BECK’S ATTACKS ON CHURCHES, ‘SOCIAL JUSTICE’ GET NOTICED…. We’ve had a fairly prominent role in highlighting Glenn Beck’s criticism of churches who value “social justice,” so I’m pleased to see it start to get some additional attention. Take this report in the New York Times, for example.

Last week, the conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck called on Christians to leave their churches if they hear preaching about social or economic justice, saying they were code words for Communism and Nazism. […]

In attacking churches that espouse social justice, Mr. Beck is taking on most mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, black and Hispanic congregations in the country — not to mention plenty of evangelical churches and even his own, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you’re just joining us, Beck told his radio audience to “look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church web site,” and then “run as fast as you can” if the words are there. He added, “Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

When this caused a stir, Beck returned to the subject and doubled down, insisting that the notion of social justice is “a perversion of the Gospel,” and “not what Jesus would say.” It prompted the Rev. Jim Wallis, a prominent evangelical figure and president of the Sojourners network, to suggest that Christians steer clear of Beck in the future.

It seems especially inconvenient that Beck, a Mormon convert, seems to be condemning his own chosen faith tradition. Philip Barlow, the Arrington professor of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, told the NYT, “One way to read the Book of Mormon is that it’s a vast tract on social justice…. A lot of Latter-day Saints would think that Beck was asking them to leave their own church.”

Just today, Beck seemed to realize that he may have gone just a little too far with this one. The deranged host told his followers that “some people don’t mean Marxism” when they use the phrase “social justice.” He added that social justice in which “you empower yourself to go out and help the poor” is permissible in his book.

How gracious of him.

Beck has obviously said some insane things over the years, but he usually targets his perceived enemies and those he considers part of an elaborate conspiracy to control/destroy civilization. By targeting houses of worship and religious traditions that commit to social justice — which is to say, most of the world’s major faiths — Beck appears to have pushed his luck. Matt Yglesias compared it to the time “McCarthy decided to go after the Army,” which sounds about right.

For its part, the Catholic League and Bill Donohue, who tend to be pretty assiduous when it comes to incidents like these, seems completely unconcerned about Beck’s remarks. In a statement issued today, Donohue said, “Beck didn’t say Christians should abandon their religion. He recommended shopping around to find a more conservative parish if one is dissatisfied with hearing left-wing sermons. Nothing new about that.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.