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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. Alex

    POLITICS MAKES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS!!!

    Jesus said "Give to Cesar what is Cesar's and give to God what is God's."

    Any "Christian" wishing to justify, orient, and sanctify politcal ideology on the basis of Christian beliefs will ultimately end up sacrificing the gospel. Take a good look at the comments on this article. If you see people despising Christianity, most do so because they feel Christians are trying to take over the government to ram Christianity down their throats. Jesus never did such a thing. When the people were so impressed by his miracles that they were planning to make him King, he walked away from them. When Christ preached that one must eat of his flesh, and everyone left him because they thought he was talking about cannibalism, he told his disciples that they could leave also if they so desired. Not one soul will enter the kingdom of heaven because of compulsion. If we are to stop this world from further moral degradation and be the salt (preservative) of the earth, it will only be because they see our lives as lights shining amongst men. Sinners will repent, souls will be won, and men will praise God when they see how lives are transformed by the power of God and the Spirit of Christ.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  2. lwh

    Is that Mormon or Moron?

    August 27, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  3. PepintheSHORT

    The numerous inconsistencies that lay within this article are abundant. Glenn Beck is a hate monger using his NON-Christian faith to gather his adherents and misconstrue the teachings of Christ. He is a Mormon and stating that "He understands receiving Christ as savior" is a lie. Mormons DO NOT accept Jesus Christ as savior, yet rely on pseudo-spiritual and theological teachings passed down from their "prophets". Check into their fundamental teachings. Christians should not align themselves with a cult that teaches that Satan (Lucifer) and Jesus Christ were BROTHERS. If you don't believe me, read into it for yourselves. Of course the icing on the cake is their belief in the afterlife where upon death, if you gained hierarchy within the "faith", you ascend into the universe onto a planet making "spirit babies" for all eternity!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  4. Reagan

    Jesus loves me....but then again, he loves everybody...

    August 27, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  5. truth2power

    Beck vs. the evangelicals? Thats a festival of crazy on both sides!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  6. Love thy neighbor

    As far as I understand it - Christians are people who believe that Jesus Christ is their Savior and believe that there is no other way to be saved. Mormons believe that - so I think they are Christians. Who cares if they have different ideas about the nature of God. Any honest religious person will admit that they do not truly understand the nature of God, so why be so judgmental about it. To those who say that Mormons believe in more than one God - I think most Christians do. Ask any Christian and they will tell you that they believe in God, the Father AND God, the Son. 1+1=2.
    Also, I applaude anyone who strives to love and serve their neighbors, obey the laws of the land and generally be a good person - be they Muslim, Catholic, Jew, Methodist, Mormon or Atheist. And, in my experience, Mormons do all of those things very well.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  7. rip

    I began reading this discussion thinking I had nothing better to do. Thanks to you all for setting me straight. It appears I have entered a darkened room full of people flailing away with sticks.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:47 am |
    • SueZque

      Ditto.

      August 27, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  8. Frogist

    Personally, I totally agree that there is no need to "de-christianise" anyone so long as we equate christianity with humanity. In that I am in full support. The problem is that some of these same people are so quick to "de-christianise" muslims. They talk about people saying such mean things about Glenn Beck, but refuse to acknowledge they have done the same thing about whole minority goups throwing about falsities and generalizations like candy. Maybe they reap what they sow. They are so hell bent on deciding who is worthy as a human being that they would discard not only muslims and jews but their own kind. The irony is sweet.
    I also find something about the term "Glenn Beck Divine Destiny" to be distasteful on a number of levels. It's as if they are deifying him but not recognizing that goes against their own tenets of taking no god before their own. And politicizing their religion which is the same thing with which they negate Islam as a religion. They question Glenn Beck's christianity but call him a Mormon which he is, but when they question the president's christianity, he is a muslim even though he has been to a christian church for 20 yrs. I find it all too hypcritical.
    I wonder when they say they are having religious leaders of all faiths if islamic, hindu, pagan, shinto, buddhist leaders will be there too? And if they are appearing, how would they be received?
    Also adding Sarah Palin in there is just... mmm ... that's some good idiocy!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  9. Whatever96

    There is no God, there is no Devil, there is no heaven, there is no hell. It's really that simple. Go ahead and have your faith in God and heaven, but know that your faith does not make it any more real. Tons and tons of physical evidence prove there is no God, and ZERO evidence of his existence. You believe because you were told to believe from the time you were born. It's called BRAINWASHING.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  10. yukonmukon

    That's correct, Deep Space Nine fans are not real Star Trek fans. No, wait! I mean, Mormons are not real Christians. Or whatever.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  11. Dan

    I was told by evangelicals that the reason why they dont believe Mormons are Christians is that Mormons believe not in the Trinity but in 3 separate Gods...the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are 3 instead of 1. They also believe that people can become Gods (in the next life?).

    August 27, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • danbeaches

      Dan it is both are delusional beliefs that call for a schizophrenic stretch of the imagination

      August 27, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  12. aten

    I am an American.
    I am an Atheist.
    Notice which comes first! I have watched Beck, and Rush and co. and I can't help but notice the un-subtle way they strive to turn us against each other. None of these men have shown a shred of tolerance or understaning to anybody that doesn't share the same opinion they hold. I can't guess what their agenda might be, but it frightens me none the less!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  13. WesternNYguy

    Glenn's book's are BEST sellers and he is popular with the people who choose to actually Listen to him !!
    That speaks for itself, the American people know good when they see it!!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:45 am |
    • truth2power

      Actually, stupid is as stupid does.
      Listening to Beck makes people stupid and mean!

      August 27, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • WesternNYguy

      Your silly!! What has Beck said that's mean. He believes people have the right to be who they are, as long as they don't infringe on others. Alas, Dem's just hate all successful, rich, well to do people. So, guys like Glenn (and Rush) are bullseyes for their anger. So sad...

      August 27, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  14. Reagan

    How sad it is that so many people appear to be so uneducated and fall for all the media crap about mormons. For the record: Anyone who follows Jesus Christ and accepts Jesus as his/her Savior, is considered a Christian. That being said, if mormons beleive in Jesus and accet him as their Savior, then of course mormons are Christian. All those claiming otherwise need to get off their judgmental high horse and learn to become christian themselves and stop spewing hate and misinformation. What a joke...get educated people! Like it or not, mormons are christians....live with it!!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:44 am |
    • IndepConserv

      You must accept the right Jesus Reagan. The Jesus that Mormons follow is not the Jesus of the Bible. Some people believe that Haile Selassie is the Messiah, so if they accept him as savior are they Christians?

      August 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  15. Jeff B.

    I swear, if Beelzebub himself announced he wanted to hold a rally in support low taxes, stopping abortion and increasing our "freedoms", there would be throngs of misguided evangelicals who would show up. "Hey, he's a conservative, so he must be a Christian? Right?"

    August 27, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  16. anAtheist

    I'm an atheist who grew up Mormon. I have faith that there is no God, and I believe Jesus, the man, would be shocked to find that he's been the cause of so much division and hatred in his name. At the same time, most religious people I know, are basically good people trying to do good in this world. So, if people want to be Mormon, or Muslim, or Catholic, or non-demonational-fundamentalist-christian, I have no problem with that, and I spend zero effort tying to convince them to join me in atheism. If it works for them, great. But one thing I will never understand is how some people can so freely use their religion to bludgeon other people over the head. I find the hatred spewed towards others, right here in these posts, based on a differences in belief, to be shocking. Parenthetically, I find it ironic to see so many "Christians" decrying Mormons to be idiots because they believe things that the "Christians" don't, while at the same time, these same "Christians" simply believe in a different set of completely super-natural dogma that cannot be supported by mere logic. They take a leap of faith, yet act as though anyone taking a different leap of faith is a complete loon.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:43 am |
    • Whatever96

      Well said, thanks

      August 27, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  17. Sly

    I'm not so sure that God – any God – cares about ratings. And that's all this is for.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  18. Craig

    I can't tell you if Mr. Beck is or is not a Christian. I can tell you that Mormonism is not a Christian faith. You can do the research on that. But I beleive some Mormons are Christian.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  19. Whatever96

    Lots and lots and lots of sheep-like people in this country. The Mormons are dangerous. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  20. DenverGrl

    Why can't all you Christians enjoy your religion and leave the rest of us alone? I'm not interested in becoming a Christian. I am a Jew. I am happy you've found a path to the Devine that works for you, but it's not for me. So please stop pushing it down my throat through politics and every other method available. I am not interested in living in a Christian nation, but would prefer a secular one. Otherwise, I'd move to Israel! This is getting really old people.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:38 am |
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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.