Open letter to Glenn Beck

Dear Mr. Beck,

I have never turned any of your broadcasts off in anger, until today, at 11:25 or so.

You were discussing the latest atrocity by the Califake, and the necessity for an Islamic Reformation. And you said (as nearly as I can quote from memory), “What if there had never been a Martin Luther time? We’d be back in the Crusades.”, thus equating Catholicism with radical Islam, and in the process insulting a large swath of your listeners.

There’s so much wrong with this that I scarcely know where to start. But let’s start with those Crusades. Do you think they were a BAD thing? Yes, bad things happened during them (and some Crusaders were excommunicated for those bad things.). But would you say that 4 centuries of Muslim aggression demanded a response, or not? Anyway, they were long over by the time of the Reformation. Constantinople had fallen 64 years before the 95 Theses, and if there was a final “we lost the Crusades” point, that was it. But of course, Muslim aggression didn’t end there. Hungary fell within Luther’s lifetime. There was the great Catholic naval victory at Lepanto in 1571 … during which the Protestant Dutch were cheering on the Turks, saying  Liever Turks dan Paaps (“Rather Turkish than Papist”) Luther himself denounced the Crusades, on the grounds that “to fight against the Turk is the same thing as resisting God, who visits our sin upon us with this rod.” He saw Catholics and Moslems as morally equivalent, much like America-hating progressives today. And there was the Battle of Vienna, where the siege was lifted by the Catholic Polish king Jan Sobieski. In short, those Crusades and after-crusades battles kept Europe Christian.

And how was that Catholic Church? Evil, and becoming more evil? Actually, the eve of the Reformation was a high point in Church history. Yes, there were abuses; there had always been abuses. But popular piety and the stability of the Church had never been higher. It’s even been argued that the energized laity contributed to the Reformation, by wanting “more”, Anyway, there was the Counter-reformation and the Council of Trent, which itself was no big deal (arguably, Vatican II was more radical in practice). They clarified some doctrines in contrast to Protestantism, curbed some abuses, simplified and unified the liturgy, ordered Gregorian chant to be bowdlerized. What made the Counter-Reformation a big deal was the saints that it inspired to New Evangelization, 16th-century style….saints frequently at loggerheads with the hierarchy.

Did the Church, in combination with the secular arm, do things that we consider barbaric? Sure. EVERYONE did.  The Calvinists and Lutherans were just as enthusisatic about witch-burning and Jew-killing as Catholics were (and it was a Jesuit, Friedrich Spee, who was one of the first to speak out against the witch trials).  What about punishment and religious freedom?  There’s “bloody Mary” and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. But then came Elizabeth, and Catholicism was considered high treason…the punishment for which was drawing and quartering. Tell me, Glenn, if you can: between that and burning a guy alive in a cage, which is worse? Tough call, isn’t it?

OK, look: you got excited and said something stupid. We all have done that. But we generally only say stupid things if we’re carrying around stupid assumptions. And the stupid assumption of most Protestant supporters of Islamic reformation is that the Reformation was a good thing, and the Catholic Church was a bad thing. Thus, an Islamic reformation will replace a bad thing with a good thing.

On the contrary, this is the Islamic Reformation. What was the Christian Reformation about? It was about getting rid of “doctrines of men” and returning to the pure state of the first-century church as enshrined in a holy book compiled several centuries later. Isn’t that what radical Islam is about? Doing what Mohammed did, obeying the Koran to the letter, bringing back the glory days? If an Islamic Reformation were about everyone interpreting the Koran for themselves, and letting everyone do their own thing, it might be worthwhile…for us. Several centuries from now, we’d have an Islam split into 40,000 pieces, claiming that Mohammed didn’t really mean all that violent and anti-woman stuff (and the Koran was a forgery from several centuries later anyway), and where a few people went to the mosque to drink coffee and talk about being nice.  But that’s not the Islamic Reformation we have in front of us, and it’s not the kind of religion that will effectively counter it.

3 Responses to Open letter to Glenn Beck

  1. lonestarfree says:

    I appreciate the historical look you have presented, but I’m not sure your reason for writing it is all that valid. People say things that can be offensive to someone everyday, but that wasn’t the goal of his statement. I interpret it more like imagine if America never existed how different today’s world would be. I could be wrong, and it won’t be my first time, but I have never known Beck to intentionally disparage any christian faith since his own is considered by some to be a fringe religion.

  2. jeffreyquick says:

    Sure, I know it wasn’t intentional, which makes it easy to forgive if not necessarily less hurtful. My main point though was at the end: If you do history from a particular PoV it will make it harder to apply its lessons to other situations. If the Reformation was to make Christianity more Christian, an Islamic Reformation would make Islam more Islamy…not a good thing in my opinion.

  3. Bob Sacamano says:

    He did it again today. He was saying the problem with radical islam is that they rely too much on the actual wording of the koran and don’t interpret it from a modern day viewpoint and then equated that line of thinking with catholicism by saying five or so hundred years ago “We (I’m assuming ‘we’ meaning Christianity) had the reformation” thus implying that catholicism was the problem and therefore still is a problem – and of course the world became a better place with the reformation because people began to interpret the bible however they saw fit rather than the original teaching.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: