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August 27th, 2010
12:47 AM ET

Some evangelicals on defensive over partnering with Glenn Beck, a Mormon

A handful of prominent evangelical activists are defending their decision to attend television host Glenn Beck's conservative rally in Washington this weekend after some Christians complained that evangelicals shouldn't be partnering with Beck because of his Mormon faith.

Video: Glenn Beck rally stirs controversy

"There is no need to 'de-Christianize' each other over the matter," wrote Jim Garlow, an influential California pastor, in a five-page memo this week arguing that evangelicals can attend Beck's rally and partner with the television and radio personality in good conscience.

"Glenn Beck is being used by God - mightily," Garlow wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNN. "The left loves to slam him and do so viscerally and often with vulgarities. Glenn is not perfect... But his expose on America's sins is stellar."

Garlow - who partnered with Mormons in California to help pass Proposition 8, the state's gay marriage ban, via ballot initiative in 2008 - is one of several high profile evangelicals on the defensive about participating in Beck's rally, called Restoring Honor.

The rally, which is to be held near the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, is to be headlined by Sarah Palin.

Christian critics of the event have taken specific aim at some evangelicals' participation in a prerally event Friday at the Kennedy Center called Glenn Beck's Divine Destiny.

Beck, who many evangelicals say is not a Christian because of his Mormon beliefs, says on his website that the Friday event "will help heal your soul."

"Guided by uplifting music, nationally-known religious figures from all faiths will unite to deliver messages reminiscent to those given during the struggles of America's earliest days," his site says of the event.

Brannon Howse, a conservative writer and founder of Worldview Weekend, which organizes Christian conferences, criticized evangelical participation in that event in a column this week.

"The Apostle Paul warns Christians against uniting with unbelievers in spiritual endeavors," Howse wrote. "While I applaud and agree with many of Glenn Beck's conservative and constitutional views, that does not give me or any other Bible-believing Christian justification to compromise Biblical truth by spiritually joining Beck."

Much of the criticism - along with confusion about the propriety of evangelicals politically linking arms with Mormons - is less formal and more rooted among in-the-pews churchgoers than evangelical elites.

"Jesus Christ's Church has universally rejected Mormonism's Anti-Trinitarian theology and its claim that mortals may become God," David Shedlock, a contributor to the evangelical blog Caffeinated Thoughts, wrote in a post this month. "Beck asks Christian leaders to 'put differences aside,' but Beck himself daily peppers his broadcasts with Mormon distinctives because he cannot keep his beliefs to himself."

Evangelical defenses of attending the Beck rally are largely aimed at ordinary evangelicals. Garlow circulated his memo in an email titled "In case some criticize you for attending the Glenn Beck Rally – since he is a Mormon."

Many Christians say that some Mormon beliefs, including that Mormon church leaders are prophets and that the Book of Mormon is sacred scripture, are incompatible with Christianity.

Mormons, though, consider themselves Christian. The Mormon church is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Many conservative evangelical activists argue that evangelicals and Mormons should set aside theological differences to partner on moral and political issues.

"For Christians concerned about Glenn's faith, I would ask the following questions: What fruit do you see produced by Glenn," David Barton, an influential evangelical activist who is joining Beck's rally, wrote on his Facebook page recently. "Good or bad? If you judged Glenn only by the fruits he has produced, would you still hold concerns over his faith?"

"Christians concerned about Glenn's faith should judge the tree by its fruits, not its labels," Barton, a former Republican National Committee consultant, continued. "After all, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton openly call themselves Christians... Although these individuals have the right labels, they have the wrong fruits."

Other evangelical activists have gone further, arguing that Beck's faith isn't that different from that of mainstream Christians.

"I have interviewed persons who have talked specifically with Glenn about his personal salvation - persons extremely well known in Christianity - and they have affirmed (using language evangelicals understand), 'Glenn is saved,' " Garlow said in his memo, which was dated Wednesday. "He understands receiving Christ as savior."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Mormonism • Politics • Sarah Palin

soundoff (1,239 Responses)
  1. Beelzebozo

    I concur with the pastor. Beck is a mighty tool.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  2. Karen

    Instead of judging him as to whether he is or is not a Christian, maybe people should be looking at their own salvation.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:56 am |
    • Matthew

      I salvate when I see a juicy steak 🙂

      August 27, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  3. M. Pat

    spouting bible verses and profound words and ideas, and sitting in a church no more make someone a Christian than barking makes you a dog or sitting in a garage makes you a car!! Actions, actions, actions! Finger pointing does not count as an action!

    August 27, 2010 at 8:56 am |
    • LDSinSC

      "Even the Devil will cite scripture for his purpose" William Shakespeare
      I think I messed up on the quote, but you get the idea.

      August 27, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  4. Bob

    Glenn Beck is a manipulative weasel. He's got all Christians believing that he is sent by God to restore America's Christian honor. Evangelicals by their faith believe that any faith that does not teach the Bible and an adherence to a Christ-like life are on the highway to hell. Could God be so narrow minded that he would destroy over half of the world's population?

    August 27, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  5. Steve

    This article is very funny. Imagine one group of people so sure of the myth they believe in, not accepting someone who believes in a slightly different myth!

    August 27, 2010 at 8:55 am |
    • Beelzebozo

      Welcome to the world

      August 27, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  6. ortizimo

    really? who cares. Religion is politics at its finest. Only the righteous or better yet those who think they are are allowed to supress others with guilt. What is he doing? Setting the stage to run for office? There's got to be something else here. Everything everyone does has a hidden agenda.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  7. We_Are_One

    🙂 "Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.” 🙂
    his is the first lesson to learn: be determined not to curse anything outside, not to lay the blame upon anyone outside, but stand up, lay the blame on yourself. You will find that is always true. Get hold of yourself.
    🙂 All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything. 🙂

    August 27, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  8. Amanda Mullineaux

    Sattan, yes, you could absolutely attend any Mormon church in the country. You could come every Sunday and be welcomed. Yes, you could bring your partner. Are you having sex with your partner? Is gay marriage legal? A Mormon bishop has the same authority as a JP to marry. If it is not legal in the state, no he would not marry you. He may not either because we do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, as do many CHristian faiths. Further, we do not believe in having sex before marriage, and we do believe you need to be living church standards at the time of baptism. So if you are having sex, you would need to stop. And to the person who said the Mormon faith is a cult. HAHAHA, um, wow...so I'm curious, what do you know about our religion? How many times have you attended our Sunday worship service? I'm curious how much you have investigated since you seem to think you are well-versed.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  9. Judith

    Beck has no true beliefs other than an obsession with enriching Glenn Beck. All the rest is the smoke of mirrors of a first rate confidence artist. He totally trashes the Christian faith with his doctrine of enriching oneself and trashing Christ's primary mission of social justice. He's a digusting blowhard with zero credibility.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  10. CyberPimp

    What is with all the hit pieces on Glen Beck lately on CNN. Do they not realize that they are making him a bigger spectre than he actually is. The more sinister they try to portray this man, the more powerful he becomes. The right did a simlar thing with Hilary Clinton...this will actually increase Becks popularity, hilarious!

    August 27, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  11. Cleareye

    Beck is the phoniest media personality around today. He is a Christian like Osama is. The man is not able to discern the difference between reality and fantasy and probably thinks he is really a Christian. Anyone relying on this guy for information is in trouble.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  12. LDSinSC

    Sattan; Interesting question, but you make it sound like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the ONLY church that will not allow same-sex marriages. How many Baptist Churches allow it? Catholic? How about Islam? Lets say you and your partner move to Iran, what do you think they will do to you? But what about me? Lets say my boyfriend and I want to live together before marriage? What do you think my chuch would do? I would have to make a choice on what is more important, my physical desires or my Savior. "No man can serve to masters". You can either live for yourself, or live for the Lord.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:50 am |
  13. Judith

    I don't believe Glenn Beck has any true beliefs at all, except a firm belief in further enriching Glenn Beck. His take on Christianity is sick indeed, as he denies the mission of social justice that was a primary teaching of Jesus Christ.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  14. No way Joe

    This is pure desperation on the part of the dems. The sand is slipping quickly through their fingers. They are bankrupt in the arena of ideas to fix the economy so they attack.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  15. Geoz

    So the purity should be just before the ouster of GB or after? I just want to make sure I believe the right thing. Can some one tell me what that is? Sarah? are you out there somewhere? I just can't think about what is right without you. Rand? Someone? Anyone?

    August 27, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  16. PHIL

    DaveinLouisiana-Do you ever watch fox news? All they do all day is bash democrats and mud sling. Ive watched every news network there is and i can say with confidence that CNN is the most balanced.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  17. Mathew

    This quote in the article cracked me up:
    "....The left loves to slam him [Beck] and do so viscerally and often with vulgarities...." PLEASE! Beck and other right-wing commentators base their entire message on insults and sneers.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  18. We_Are_One

    "Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas, or sects, or churches, or temples or mosques ; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which is spirituality; and the more this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticize no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, or names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realization. Only those can understand who have felt. Only those who have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be great teachers of mankind. They alone are the powers of light."
    Give up all that hateful malice, that doglike bickering and barking at one another and take your stand on good purpose, right means, righteous courage, and be brave.

    The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.
    All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.
    Anything that makes you weak, physically, intellectually, spiritually, reject it as poison. It cannot be true. For Truth is strengthening. Truth is purity.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:45 am |
    • Blue

      Amen. Now if only the ears your message was intended for weren't deaf.

      August 27, 2010 at 8:55 am |
    • bblack

      Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ........to turn from evil is true understanding.....

      you have too much faith in man......The greatest fallacy of man is his intellect. The more he knows the more he destroys .....not only himself but the very world which he had no part in making.

      August 27, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  19. sue

    And so Christians are supposed to turn against him because he is Mormon? What about the fact that he is a complete nutcase! Or a fraud who is laughing all the way to the bank? Or because he and the like are sending this country down the same path that the Nazis did in Europe? Or because he is denigrating Martin Luther King? Do you want the whole list or just the top 10?

    August 27, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  20. JLT

    Glenn Beck uses religion as a tool, in the exact way that Charles Manson did, to seduce and manipulate his followers. Beck is a very confused and angry person and his zeal for political power and a broad following are becoming dangerous. Examine his past: This is not a man fit to lead people. He has suffered from ADH, substance abuse and is a college drop out. Shouldn't the bar be a little higher for the leaders of the Republican Party? Everyone is human and prone to mistakes, but the people we choose to lead should be held to a higher standard. Beck falls far below that standard and does far more harm than good (please name his last significant positive contribution to America?).

    August 27, 2010 at 8:43 am |
    • Frogist

      @ JLT: Glenn Beck can use tools? I didn't think he was that evolved...

      August 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.