Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Bishop William Willimon
One of America’s most widely known and published preachers earlier this month used an invitation to a Washington, D.C., pulpit as an opportunity to blast popular TV and radio host Glenn Beck.
At the Washington National Cathedral on April 3, reports Jeff Walton of The Institute on Religion & Democracy, United Methodist Bishop and former Dean of the Chapel at Duke University William Willimon stated plainly, “I can’t stand Glenn Beck,” calling him News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch’s “talking dummy.”
Willimon reportedly complained that the Fox News host “laces his televised boo-hoo hooying with prayer” and has “a conspiracy theory for everything.”
“This mish mash of hate and foolishness Beck markets to a $23 million empire,” Willimon said, “when more than 200 advertisers refused his show, Beck appropriately was picked up by a diarrhea medication.”
Willimon took specific aim at comments from Beck in March of 2009, when the host criticized “social justice” theology, which, Willimon said, “Beck says you’re too stupid and blind to see as code for communism and Nazism.”
However, the phrase “social justice” is in fact widely used by the left today as a euphemism for wealth distribution.
“It’s America, Glenn Beck, and I think Episcopalians should be free to be as liberal and progressive and social activist as they please,” Willimon reportedly retorted. “To heck with Glenn Beck.”
“Beck’s excuse is, he suffers from [Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder],” Willimon reportedly continued. “Hey, Glenn Beck, I suffer from ADHD, and you don’t hear me standing up in public and spewing out sarcastic venom, do you?”
Willimon is a bishop in the United Methodist Church, serving in Alabama after leaving his position at Duke University in 2004. He has authored more than 50 books and has garnered a reputation as an outstanding preacher, being named in a 1996 Baylor University survey as one of the 12 best preachers in the English-speaking world.
The Institute on Religion & Democracy President Mark Tooley describes his organization, which reported on Willimon’s sermon, as a “watchdog of the religious and evangelical left” that was formed out of concern that churches were “openly supporting Marxist causes and opposing democracy and human rights.”
The IRD’s Walton reports that Willimon’s intent in bashing Beck was to demonstrate that Jesus Christ loves everyone, even those that oppose the “progressive” wing of mainline Protestantism.
But a reader of VirtueOnline.com, a popular Anglican website, took issue with Willimon’s harsh public ridicule of Beck:
Mocking a public figure by name in order to display the love of Jesus Christ? This preacher seemed more interested in making a headline and entertaining the crowd than in truly preaching the gospel. The UMC is full to the rim with unapologetic political and social liberals, who seem never to have anything in their tone of voice that suggests that they know that they could be ultimately mistaken.
In his sermon, Willimon paraphrased John 3:16, positing, “God so loved us nice social activists in my church, that He gave His only begotten Son … no, the Bible says, ‘God so loved the world.’”
“Jesus Christ came not just for me and my buddies in the faith,” Willimon said.
Walton reports Willimon retelling a story about theologian Karl Barth, who was asked if those who go to heaven see their loved ones there.
Willimon said Barth responded, “‘I really do.’ And then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘And if I know anything about Jesus, we’ll also probably get to see everybody we hate.’”