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. Sharon

    The rise and fall of the conflict that Glenn Beck and him honoring a black man with I HAVE A DREAM–I am an evangelical Christian–I know who I am in Christ–I know what I believe and why–and nothing can change-Glenn Beck is a Mormon-I know that–yet I support his message–should he trun it into a Mormon based only philosophy-then evangelicals can stand and speak the difference!

    When Speaker Pelosi reached out to the Catholic Church to support her on her views of immigration-THAT IS STEPPING INTO THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!
    When Pelosi was asked about her faith views-God is everywhere, but she was clearly uncomfortable about what she was saying!

    Obama views are Christian/Muslims–America isn't a Christian Nation–first President to ever say that about our Nation!
    Obama was interviewed by Charles Gibson (while he was on the campaign trail)-Charlie asked about his faith!
    Obama said he was a Christian/ then turned his head a little and added–Muslim–so Obama is a Christian–Muslin!

    There is a big difference between Christian and Muslims-Christian believes that Jesus was God's son–came to earth by a virgin birth-died on the cross–raised from the dead–conquered death-hell and the Grave! God does not force anyone to accept his beliefs–though he wishes no one to perish–The WORD CHOICE of whether to obey God's Word in the Bible–or not is left up to the individual!

    The Traditional Islam believe that Jesus was a Prophet–had no earthly father–denies the diety of his birth–and Prophet Muhauumad was the last Propet–therefore, he supercedes Christ-and it is the call of the Prophet Muhauumad that everyone must accept the faith of Muslim!

    Does America really need to start up–condemning one voice over and another! Glenn Beck can take a stand in his own belief–Evangelicals can take a stand in their own belief-as long as each one isn't afraid of the other person's beliefs–and knows that God has given people choices for their own life–what is there to fear? Any religion that is forced upon you–is wrong!

    August 27, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  2. jehosafat

    Was that criminal on the cross next to Jesus a Mormon? I forget...

    August 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  3. Christian

    An end to the argument about the beliefs of Mormons can be found in the testimony of the President – and living prophet- of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The following link is to his closing remarks at the last General Conference of the church. I encourage everyone reading these comments to follow the link and to decide for yourself if Mormons are Christians. I certainly am. http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1207-36,00.html

    August 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  4. John

    Don't any of you work for a living?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  5. Chris R

    I'm not sure why mormons wouldn't be christian. I know that they are trinitarians but there is nothing in the bible that requires belief in the Trinity to actually be christian. The idea of the trinity wasn't actually made part of the christian canon until several hundred years after the death of Jesus at the council of Nicaea. The mormons basically take the Arian view that Jesus is of similar substance but not the same substance as God. Scripture has Jesus saying "The Father is greater than I" but, on the other hand, it also has Jesus saying "The Father and I are one". I know I'm missing a lot of nuance vis a vis Jesus as Jehovah and so forth but saying Mormons aren't Christian is just ludicrous. It's like saying Methodists aren't Christian because they don't believe in transubstantiation.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  6. Christopher

    Do I believe in God? I don't know because I'm not dead yet.

    If you're an evangelical reading this, as much as you would like to shout from the mountain tops "GOD IS REAL AND I BELIEVE!!!" the undisputable fact is that you don't know bcause you're not dead yet either.

    I'd like to think that the world does not stop at the tip of my nose and that there is something larger than my concept of the universe at work but the simple fact is I don't know, Glenn Beck doesn't know, Sarah Palin doen;t know and every preacher, rabbi, Imam and cleric on this planet doesn't know.

    Deal with it.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  7. jehosafat

    Christians and Mormons: Regardless of whether you agree with Beck's salvation, it is completely apparent that he thinks America needs to turn to God. Any Christians or Mormons disagree that America needs God?
    Others: Why do you care if Beck is accepted by Christians even though he is a Mormon? To you Christians and Mormons are the same uneducated freaks that are stupid and unenlightened.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  8. Dan

    Why does glenn beck scare you libs so much. Its so funny that you talk without looking into any facts. Try watching the show you might learn something. What no whining about the war anymore..oh thats right its ok now that a lib is in there. Go ahead and bash fox news all you want the ratings speak for themselves and yes fox news ratings are still climbing.

    Oh well go listen to madcow or that dingbat mathews. I wonder why they have no best selling books. You ever wonder why cnn keeps attacking fox news people? They are getting destroyed in the ratings. You libs are like the worm on a hook..you just gutless bait.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  9. Gabor47

    It is a bloody shame that conservatives divide themselves along the line of which "version" of Christianity they believe in.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  10. Joann

    Wasn't Glen Beck originallly a Christian? Well, until he married his Mormon Goddess sent from the Divine Providence!!! So maybe he considers himself "Christian" by birth.......and have it both ways!

    But we have to remember that the Mormons follow a belief that began with a young guy named Joe, who got high one night, went out into the woods near his home in New York, and thought he saw "gold" there. He then began having "conversations" with the shadows of the trees and claimed "God spoke to him"! That seems to be it!! And what followed became a "cultic" group who followed the Snake Oil he began to verbally spew!!! Now, do we see any parallel here today with FOX's Mr. Beck and his legion of followers??? Hey, he's found his "gold" to prove it.......only it is now in the form of paper and it goes in the bank!!!

    And one more thought on this topic! If Mormons proclaim to be so "Christian", where are all the crosses atop their mammoth stakes and "temples", or in their houses?????? No, all one can see is the Angel Macaroni with her trumpet beckoning all the converts to come join their nonsense (Snake Oil) Could it really be CINO....."Christian in Name Only"?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  11. Buzzer

    @NoGod,NoReligion..."many of them don't care much about religion and get bored pretty quickly with a conversation like this one." I guess you're not one of the "many" but one of the "few" given your username.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  12. J

    We all contribute daily to destroying our world, our lives and those that have lived and died before us...we all on a daily basis seek ways to destroy all that is good and forget that no matter what views we share, it is not our right to judge another–even though we may personally feel it is absolutely wrong, indifferent, demoralizing, etc. If we all spent more time helping one another in a positive way and spent more time focusing on our individuality/families, etc. and improving the way we insert our voice and/or actions into our own daily lives, the world just might become a better place to spend this temporary life and we can all try and understand how life is precious regardless of what religious, political, etc affiliations we have. I personally believe that one word alone can greatly and positively influence us all to look deeper into our souls and realize how simple life really is and can be.....FAITH!!

    August 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  13. jackpatzer

    Very funny story about Glenn Beck at http://newspile.weebly.com/

    August 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  14. Emmitt Langley

    I don't agree with his religious beliefs, but politically he makes a lot of sense. This is not a big issue. It's a case of the leftist media looking to present the impression of discord where this is none. But you'll see how united we are in December. Until then...happy dreaming!

    August 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  15. Sarcasmo

    Adults often chastise children for associating with imaginary friends, and yet we have things like religion which those same adults take sooooo seriously. People are funny.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  16. Anti-Beck

    Beck is a former alcoholic and criminal. He was in CT and he still is. What a mean spirited person and hypocrite!

    August 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  17. danbeaches

    We know more now than we did 3000 years ago. And yet when it comes to the Bible and those who declare themselves the special men of God, we go as blind as Paul claimed to go on the road to Damascus. (Even though Paul himself never says this was the mechanism of his conversion. Perhaps even worse, like Jeremiah and Jesus, he was called before birth in the womb as he notes in Galatians.) Pretty darn special! And yet we can allow that kind of perspective to be religious when today, we would get very uncomfortable with a real person saying that about themselves. What seems ok as long as it is in the distant past becomes freaky if in the present. Many who turned away from Paul or an Ezekiel may have had that gut level discomfort. I doubt anyone today would feel a religious zealot who cooked dinner with his own dung would be anything but twelve short of a dozen.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  18. Wilson James

    Evangelicals (the most narrow minded, bigoted Americans) are attacking Glenn Beck (narrow minded whack job). Perfect. It exposes the right for what it is: A self important uneducated bunch or rednecks that eat their young.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  19. Paul WIllson

    As much as I disagree with much of Mr Beck's opinons I do not believe that it anyones place to question his faith.
    Indeed to do so is to have an American Christian version of the Talibans way of thinking. America is a place of much
    diversity. And also a place where one should not question other peoples belefs.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  20. UT Longhorn

    Is everyone tired of hitting on Muslims, now you are turning on each other. Come on we need to gather all the hate and intalarance towerd the evil muslims.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:55 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.