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. Mike Brooks

    What a snide headline. Of course, some *Fundamentalists* question Beck's Christianity. These are the same toxic scoundrels that made and distributed "The God Makers", picket Mormon churches, and harass Mormon children. That toxic collection of professional gasbags also think Catholics, Methodists, anyone who doesn't look like them, aren't Christian's. One of their leaders sponsors the "burn a Koran Day" and you condemn him for that. The author (and CNN's editorial staff) makes me wonder just what you really believe.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  2. lateris

    Who cares.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  3. NEON whip

    it's horrible to have same s-ex marry same s-ex, but it's definitely alright to have many same s-ex wives...?? you're a fu-cking deluded moron.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  4. oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

    I'M NOT SURE I HAVE EVER MET A CHRISTIAN if by Christian we mean a 'little Christ' as the name refers to – It was a derogatory term until about 400 AD – before that they were called – 'followers of The Way' Jesus said in John 14 "I am the Way the Truth and the Life" I don't LIKE Beck but he is as much a follower of Christ as are the 90% of Americans who worship Money and call themselves Christian.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  5. FLM

    Judge these people by fruits, or perhaps as fruits.
    Sounds like a good idea to me

    August 27, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  6. demo joseph

    And they have the nerve to talk about salvation in the same breath as the name Glenn Beck. Religious as... H....s – All this is set up for is to draw fools with money.... They believe in God as I believe that Glenn Beck is, was or ever will be saved. Bull Sh...

    August 27, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  7. Chris C.

    ALL religon was invented to keep people from rapeing, killing and eating each other. Before there were Czars, Presidents, Kings and rulers and nobody was in charge people were like animals. Religon was the only thing that could put enough fear into people to make them not kill one another. I reitterate, ALL religon was invented to put the fear of damnation into people so they would behave. Some people need religon to behave, some of us do it because it is the right thing to do.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  8. David

    No doubt the majority of people on here have not watched Glenn or bothered to listen to what he is doing.

    Many of you are scared and very misinformed.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  9. vegas01

    There is no reason to deny common ideals merely because some matters may differ. They are not conducting a religious service, but a conservative rally. The conservative values being represented transcend specific religious doctrines as was indicated by our founders who crafted our conservative principled republic. They were not all of one religion, some professed no religion at all, but the unity was found in the commonality of the conservative societal and governmental principles that did not required a particular religious doctrine to be held.
    To shun a fellow supporter of restoring limited government because they are Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, etc., is counterproductive to the effort to restore such, and diminishes the evidence of the majority in favor of restoration of the founder's limited government model as outlined in the Constitution.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  10. John in Mississippi

    The fact of the matter is the bible is the greatest novel ever written.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  11. jim

    It is NOt a political rally. MLK denied the divinity of Christ. Brothers and sisters of Christ. Don't cast you pearls to swine, as Paul recommended.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  12. David

    I truly believe every word of the Apostle's Creed. I believe in Jesus Christ and that he will come to judge "the quick and the dead". But when He comes, I don't think in judging an individual that he will say "Oh, wait, let me confer with Glenn Beck, or any other preacher or right-wing activist on who will be allowed into Heaven." All of these individuals would have us believe that they will somehow participate in the final judgement and Christ will consult with them on right and wrong. I suggest they read Matthew Chapter 7, ver. 1 through 6. Pay special attention to verses 3 and 4 and verse 6. And then ask God what do they mean in your life. As Christ said ... in the latter days many will come in my name ... but they are wolves in sheeps clothing and I say to you I do not know them

    August 27, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  13. Apostate

    Mr. Beck's church considers non members to be "apostates." Evangelicals would be apostates. Liberal Christians would be apostates. Today's christian fundamentalists by and large reject the Mormon faith. Building ecumenical bridges in a land of sectarian self righteous walls seems implausible. Realistically, a mass rally with such divergent incompatible costituencies can only be one thing- a corporatitist political ploy to turn back the clock of moral time to a simpler time of sexism, bigotry, and monopoly captialism.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  14. John in Mississippi

    The fact of the matter is the bible is the greatest navel ever written.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • John in Mississippi


      August 27, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  15. pamlinson

    Nice try CNN, but America can see past your smoke & mirrors. God's speed Glenn Beck, we stand with you!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  16. Sir Craig

    Why does evangelicals arguing about Mormons sound a lot like The Brothers Grimm arguing about Aesop? "My fairy tale is more valid than yours!"

    Whatever. When you all reach the 21st century, let the rest of us "secular progressives" know. Until then, you're simply entertainment.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  17. Mike

    What I want to know is this: Why to so many Fright-Wingers think that America has lost its honor or lost its way? Sure, we're stuck in an economic recession, but there is plenty of blame to go around for both political parties for that mess, so I don't really see that as a political thing or a lack of American will. But who have we lost our honor to? Like him or not, our president won a Nobel. Our president to greated by huge cheering crowds whenever he travels overseas. We have improved relations with many of our allies (and if you argue that point, you are simply not paying any attention!) Mid-East peace talks have resumed. Former Presidents Clinton and Carter were able to secure the release of Americians held in North Korea. We have a strong military. Our economy, though in a downturn, is still the most robust economy in the world. Where's that beef when people complain that we have lost our honor?

    August 27, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  18. Gradle

    ‎"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and waving a cross". ~Sinclair Lewis

    August 27, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  19. InformedinIllinois

    Think about this today, take it to heart and mind.
    Like any disagreement among humans>the breakdown comes when one or both parties involved refuse to take it down to the core reason for the disagreement...
    GB has taken it down to the simple natural truth, it's not about the bad democrats/republicans/liberals/conservatives/black/white/hispanic etc. It's about 'Restoring Honor'...to ourselves . It's about Americans standing up and taking responsibility for their actions and government. As a free country 'we the people' have dropped the ball, plain and simple. Now, it's time to lay our differences aside, learn from the past, grow up and move forward. It's about getting back to the basics> to God, family, neighbors/friends. It's about becoming whole again, united not divided. Plain and simple>'United we stand, divided we fall'. 'We the people' have taken our freedom for granted. We do not fathom what a special country we have. Now is the time to set our sarcasm/immaturity/blame games aside and take back our country!

    August 27, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • Rick - Ex-Marine, Liberal

      Where did your honor go? We don't realize what a special place we live in? Emotional claptrap. What BS this is. Quit speaking for "US." I served four years in the Marines because I honor my country. I've never lost that; it didn't go anywhere. Only whiners that don't get their way feel that the whole country has lost it's honor. The fact we have a democratic society and have the right to disagree should be enough to restore some of your lost pride. The fact we tolerate people that spout insanity like Glen Bleck should make you proud of our laws. Your own intelligence ought to tell you no one has THE answer. If you really love this country then do your job, pay your taxes and support your President, and work for change, not revolution. Vote the way you want to in the next election and as a true American that honors your country, live with the results.

      August 27, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  20. Inquisitive

    There are issues in the theology of the LDS church which are very different from historic Christian teachings. 1. God is a man who lives in the vacinity of the planet Kolab and became a god by living a good (pure?) life in a previous existence. 2. Any male can earn the right to become a god by virtuous living and belief. 3. As a god, he can create his own world were people will in turn worship him. 3. For women to enter heaven they must be "sealed" to a worthy male. 4. The god of Kolab came to earth, had sex with Mary who in turn produces a "son of god". 5 Good works are necessary for advancement in the church.

    While Mormons are fine people and neighbors, their core beliefs are very different than historic Christianity. AAnd I am willing to let God decide who is in or out.

    I am more concerned with what I call fundamentalistic Christianity which claims there is only one way and it is "MY WAY". When I hear of of people showing up are Tea Party and other fundamentalists rallies with AK47 rifles and pistols on their hips claimin that armageddon is near and they are ready to join the fight, it scares me. We are creating a Christian Taliban which is no better than the Islamic Taliban.

    We need people whp are willing to sit down at the table with those with who they differ and work hard to deal with the needs of our country without the name calling and false accusations based on the fear generated by people such as Beck.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:53 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.