“Social justice” is suddenly a topic of vigorous debate—and certainly not alien to Catholics. For what it’s worth, I’d like to weigh in.
I’ll begin candidly, with a statement that might sound uncharitable: The modern Religious Left has perverted “social justice,” if not hijacked the term altogether. It has so misappropriated and mangled the term that many Americans—including popular commentators like Glenn Beck—now reflexively think “socialism” when they hear “social justice.”
Indeed, enthusiastic practitioners of social justice tend to advocate Big Government collectivism, pursued through a single, seemingly ever-expanding federal government. And although “social justice,” in its origins, does not mean socialism, many liberal Christians, Catholic and Protestant, have veered to that extreme.
Speaking of extremes, the radical left has taken notice, employing the language of “social justice” to appeal to gullible liberal Christians, especially in education. Think about this: Sixties Marxists like the infamous Bill Ayers—the former Weather Underground terrorist and fugitive—now write books with titles like Handbook of Social Justice in Education, Teaching for Social Justice, and A Simple Justice.
I have seen these books on the syllabi of education courses at Christian colleges. Yes, books by Bill Ayers.
America’s militant secularists know which buttons to push to dupe liberal Christians.
Can you see why folks like Glenn Beck are suspicious?
That said, here’s a word in semi-defense of some “social justice” Christians; that is, those not duped by the likes of Bill Ayers:
I don’t think we can say the Bible explicitly prohibits all public welfare. Nor would I argue that government has no role addressing the needy. The Catholic Church doesn’t take those positions.
For us as Christians, as Catholics, the question is not whether to help the needy, but the best means. Join me next time as I consider that question.