I Was Sick And You Looked After Me

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Glenn Beck Attacks Social Justice - James Martin
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care reform
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mary Matalin
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care reform

The thing that confuses me the most about some conservative pundits' recent attacks on the concept of social justice is the way they're framing it as a dangerous offshoot of a perverted faith. I was born and raised in the church and still believe in the primacy of the teachings of Christ, which is why it's bizarre to see talk show hosts like Glenn Beck now attacking the most basic underpinnings of those teachings. Political debates over religious topics like abortion are nothing new, but I had no idea so many people could get so upset over something as simple as the concept of charity. It's a terrible thing to do, both politically and morally. The political problems are easy to see. One of the reasons there's so much fuel for the fire when it comes to the abortion debate is the lack of canonical or scriptural writing on the subject. The word isn't mentioned in the Bible, and that gives partisans on both sides free reign to interpret that silence to their own needs. But Jesus talks about the poor more than anything else, and uses countless parables and teaching moments to drive home the fact that he has come to save the destitute, to feed the hungry, to treat the sick, and to illustrate the truth of what it means to be fully human. For modern news hosts to act as if these passages don't exist, or as if they mean different things — in the second clip above, Mary Matalin says Jesus' instructions were along the lines of, "If you don't work, you don't eat," which Stephen Colbert interjected were actually, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" — is just blindingly stupid. These words are written, and they've been a guiding force for people for centuries. That's why it's also morally dangerous for commentators to advocate an isolationist position when it comes to helping the poor, or to act as if the phrase "social justice" is a coded phrase for something other than helping out those who were born less fortunate. That's not what faith — and humanity — is about. Those railing against charity seem to be committing the mistake made by the disciples in the gospel of John, who, encountering a blind man, asked Jesus whether the condition was caused by the blind man's sin or that of his parents. He replied, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." Poor people aren't poor because they've made a mistake; they don't exist as a reminder of some curse brought down on their heads by a vengeful creator. Rather, their presence is a chance for those more blessed to extend help, to allow the grace and comfort shown to them to be spread to those in need. In the words of Deuteronomy, "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." What possible excuse could there be for withholding help from those in need?