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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. Kris in AL

    WHAT IS THE HANG UP WITH THE BOOK OF MORMON?

    IT TALKS OF CHRIST......IT PREACHES OF CHRIST....IT FORETELLS HIS BIRTH.....IT RECORDS HIS MINISTRY.....THE WHOLE BOOK IS ABOUT JESUS CHRIST!!!

    August 27, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  2. AL

    It is an insult for Beck and Palin to have this rally near the site and day that MLK gave one of the most important speeches in our history. So many of their followers despised MLK and his efforts to fight for equality and freedom for all Americans.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  3. Ginger315

    Oh please...for the one who asked "Where did Martin Luther come from" Well...history tells us he was a Catholic priest before he began the reformation. Catholics are Christians! If you want to compare, compare apples and with apples and oranges with oranges. Mormons are NOT Christians, they are a cult. Secret meetings in a temple, etc.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  4. Matt

    One Jesus' main messages was to love your enemy. How many Christians REALLY believe that?

    August 27, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  5. Liberty

    At first when I saw the title of this article I sighed and thought; 'Here we go again, another attack to pit Americans against each other.' But what I got from this is that there are some conservative Christian fundamentalist that are as dangerous and intolerant as some Islamic radical Imams that seek to crush any that they do not consider to be one of their own. All Americans need to reject derisive attitudes. I really hope Beck's rally gets televised in its entirety. It would be wonderful if it does bring about some healing and uniting of Americans. For those that ridicule the rally should look in a mirror and decide if they will help heal or fester our wounds. True Christians are willing to lay down their lives to preserve liberty and their right to worship God according to their own conscience. Our first acts are to resolve conflict peacefully with conciliatory demeanor and will only take up defensive armor and weapons after the other cheek has been turned and smitten.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  6. Democrat2014

    I personally can't stand Glenn, I'm sure he is a good guy, but politics and religion don't mesh well, and should never be put together. By the way, I think Mormons are good people, I have many friends that are Mormon and I can't believe how much they try to help people. If they arn't christian then I don't know why they put so many pictures of Christ in their homes.

    I looked up some of there beliefs that are fundamental: They call them their 13 articles of faith:

    1.We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
    2.We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
    3.We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
    4.We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    5.We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
    6.We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
    7.We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
    8.We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
    9.We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
    10.We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
    11.We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
    12.We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
    13.We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul–We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  7. Barb

    That those who use fear to drive their agenda...who seek to divide and categorize...would choose to hold their "festival of falsehoods" on the same site and on the anniversary of MLK's speech is the most insulting act this mob of political opportunists could perpetrate. MLK spoke of harmony and hope...Beck and his band of boogeyman-boosters are dragging America down into the gutter. When are people going to wake up to the fact that there is no honor in what Beck and his buddies are attempting to do. Old tactics of those who thirst for power.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  8. abby

    Beck (like Palin and Limbaugh) is an opportunist; he is also an extremist. He is a dangerous demagogue who seeks fame, fortune, and power. He has learned Hitler's lessons well - spread lies and fear - tell people exactly how and what they should think, say and do - and the sheep will follow. American Christians should be appalled but too many Americans are sheep - much like the so-called "good Christian" Germans who helped bring on the death of over 6 million Jews.... Think it can't happen in America? Look around you. It's beginning already.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  9. Bob

    Such contempt and hatred from people. Ye without sin.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  10. Who Cares

    Does anyone actually believe that Beck himself believes the garbage he spouts? He is making money hand over fist and as long as he gets the simple minded, and I mean those who can't think for themselves, he will continue to make money and spew the hatred and lies that he does. Most of the right wing hate mongers make millions of dollars a year from spewing their hate and lies and won't stop as long as people are stupid enough to listen to them, let alone believe them.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  11. svscnn

    A Glenn Beck rally near the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, is about as appropriate as a building a mosque at ground zero.

    Bet none of these idiot ultra-conservatives have noticed (or would admit) the similarity though.

    Just sayin'.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  12. Tom

    It's not Glenn Beck's religion that worries me.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  13. Barney

    Of course the Mormons are not Christians; I grew up with them in Utah. They do not accept the basic tenants of Christianity. They put Joseph Smith above Jesus Christ; they do not believe Jesus was the son of God and do not accept the Holy Trinity. They are a self described theocracy “business / religion”.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • anAtheist

      Barney, I didn't grow up in Utah, but I was a fully-believing Mormon for over three decades before converting to atheism. You talk as if you have some special knowledge of Mormonism, but I can inform you that you do not.

      "They put Joseph Smith above Jesus Christ" – that is simply not true. The fact that you believe this, just shows that you are as brainwashed as you think Mormons are.

      "they do not believe Jesus was the son of God" – I'm not sure what your source is, but you have been misled. This is as untrue as the previous statemnet.

      "[they] do not accept the Holy Trinity" – if by "Holy Trinity", you mean 3-in-1 beings "of one substance" who are not one god, but three, and not three but one, then, yes, you are correct that Mormons do not believe that. They believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings, independent from each other, but unified in purpose.

      I'm sure you have many other goofball opinions about what Mormons do or don't believe. Since you are obviously incorrect, I encourage you redirect your efforts to doing some good in the world instead of judging others from an uninformed position.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  14. Jordan

    Isn't there some kind of evangenlical council that can just vote on this issue and we can be done with the discussion? Such a waste of time going back and forth on the issue. Both sides obviuosly have good points, otherwise there would not be a debate. If someone tells a Mormon they are not Christian, it is not going to change their belief in Christ. This is really such a waste of time when our country has real issues to solve. I don't understand the hatred for Mormons; who cares what they believe as long as they are not hurting others and contribute to society?

    August 27, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  15. Bill

    I would challenge Andrea M and everyone that agrees with her short sighted comment to provide examples of the "hatred and bigotry" that Mr. Beck has propogated.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  16. mark plunkett

    I have no problem with Mr. Beck being a Mormon. My problem with him comes from his amazing ability to shoot off his mouth and have very few Christians stand up and tell him he is wrong.

    His comments on social justice are a perfect example. He inspires hate speech and spews venom...where is the Christian example in that? He can disagree – and even do so strongly – and I will defend his right to do so. But he goes beyond the boundaries of decency and common sense.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  17. sequoia

    Glenn Beck is a truly disgusting and deranged human being, and yet again America's evangelicals prove they are exactly like the Taliban. America's right-wing is seriously evil all around. Sickening!

    August 27, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  18. Skyblue Waters

    Sounds like Glenn is trying to hide that he is a Muslim

    August 27, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  19. godis dung!

    gods & religions are one big pile of dung!

    August 27, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  20. csmallfield

    I heard Glenn Beck was a secret Muslim and that he's not really an American. Fake birth certificate and all that. I heard from another reliable source that he eats babies.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:38 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.