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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. OR Chapin

    Funny... CNN has spent the past two years telling me that America is Muslim-phobic, but it appears that America is Mormon-phobic. Truth is, I don't care what your religion is. I try to stay away from labels and treat everybody as an individual based upon his/her actions. Period.

    August 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  2. Holly Thompson-Bandong

    I was born and raised into the Mormon faith, and as crazy as I may think it all is now- it is a form of Christianity. The Bible has about as much truth to it as the Book of Mormon; both written to inspire and manipulate minds. I think it's so funny conservatives can't even get along among themselves. Does it really matter where you go to church to praise the lord?
    I think God is more concerned about you "living a Christ like life" then judging those who don't share the same organized religion. One thing Mormons and Evangelicals do have in common, they are judgmental and very hypocritical. They should play the song "Imagine" by John Lennon at this conference for these conservatives, over and over again!

    August 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  3. Roy

    Garlow is all about politics, I knew him at Metroplex Chapel in DFW he was heavty into Republican politics and still is...he is even dabbling into after life books to make some money, he will compromise for politics..Barton the same. Garlow is a velvet hammer he will not play his cards upfront. Garlow even promotes Beck from the pulpit ...I am glad this memo has exposed him for wht he is an idealouge...He really does insult Jesus.

    August 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  4. JC

    LDS believe in Christ and accept Him as THE ONLY PERSON from whom salvation can come. It states that in the Book of Mormon several times.

    August 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  5. JC

    Mormons do believe in "hell", because if you feel guilt at sin, anywhere you may be will still be, hell. It could be the most beautiful place and yet be hell, because of regret, remorse, and guilt.

    "Hell", is more a state of being, than a place.

    August 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  6. JC

    The Nicean Council sponsored by Constantine did not include all of the Christian leaders of the day. There were many who decided that man deciding what "God" was/is, was ridiculous. Many didn't show up – the Bishop of Rome, for one. Constantine was still a Pagan – and just wanted unity in his kingdom, and saw the infighting of the Churches to be downright counterproductive for his view of a peaceful kingdom. He thought that this "meeting of the mind"s would help – but he also imposed penalties on those churches who didn't support the final "decision." Many religious leaders were also punished. All of the fighting about the nature of God distracted from the principles and purpose of Christianity – to teach HOW to be Christllike.

    August 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  7. canuckles

    Very interesting and lively exchange. Mormon or christian...does it really matter?? Just different sets of fairy tales. Is one superior simply because it's been around longer? How about a religion based on Aesop's fables? Seems an adequate basis for morality with a catchier name for the deity.

    In these forums, whenever the evil deeds of organized religion are discussed, the resulting counter references the many good deeds of religions. Athiests/non-believers don't deny these good deeds, they would just rather have them without having to endure the bad parts. There are many organizations that do charitable working without the moral bankruptcy, contradiction and violence.

    One final point. To everyone that identifies themselves as a christian, muslim, hindu, mormon, anything else. Write a few sentences about how much you love your particular savior, Jesus for example, how you believe in him so much despite any tangible proof. how he affects your daily life, your personal relationship with your saviour if you will. Then rewrite it, replacing the name of your saviour with Bigfoot. Read it and tell me how ridiculous it sounds. That's how I feel when you all talk about your religion(s).

    Recovering Catholic

    August 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  8. Matt

    " If you judged Glenn only by the fruits he has produced, would you still hold concerns over his faith?"

    Translation: none of his followers has actually killed anybody YET (thanks to the Oakland PD), and he hates him some Mooslems, blacks and gays just like us!

    August 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  9. Robert

    My problem with religion is not with what the Bible says, it is with what people say it says (that it doesn't). The Bible makes no claim to be the unerring word of god. Even so there are currently so many versions of the bible, each that differ significantly in interpretation. How could they all be the unerring word? So the question is which bible is the divinely inspired version?

    August 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  10. beantown10

    Ah yes....Anti-Mormonism. The bigotry that never goes out of style!

    August 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  11. doug

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

    August 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  12. Javer

    Beck is anything but evangelical. He is a very wealthy man who has found an audience that makes him wealthier by telling them what they want to hear. In short, a flim-flam artist: a modern P.T. Barnum with a side-show on Fox. Nothing more, nothing less.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  13. flagirl

    We better get used a Mormon is Washington, odd are Mitt Romney will be our next President...it sure beats a President who worships on a Blackberry and 18 holes every Sunday.

    The Democrats and Left are terrified of Beck...there must be hundreds of articles complaining about him today, and Rev. Al is afraid he will lose his income, making money off racism and his "civil rights" causes that leave White America out.

    Dr. King said ALL men and women of every color and race....does anyone remember? And what ever did happen to honor and character?

    August 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  14. Moracle

    There are several hundred "Christian" denominations in the world today, because they can't agree on interpretations of various doctrines from the Holy Bible. And yet, these religions think they (in unison) have the right to pass judgment upon another religion because it (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Mormon) interprets the nature of God differently than they do?

    How differently? By teaching that God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct personages of body and Spirit (except for the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of Spirit only), who are one, only in purpose. Rather than teach that these three are one in substance, with no body.

    How does a group of churches that can't agree among themselves on the teachings of God, reach a mutual consensus that one among them is wrong and the rest are all right on ANY point of doctrine? How can they justifiably say: “You’re not Christian, because you interpret the scriptures differently than I do!”? Is that absurd, or just ridiculous?

    Oh, by the way, ever wonder what Christ did with His resurrected body?

    August 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
  15. Moracle

    There are several hundred "Christian" denominations in the world today, because they can't agree on interpretations of various doctrines from the Holy Bible. And yet, these religions think they (in unison) have the right to pass judgment upon another religion because it (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Mormon) interprets the nature of God differently than they do?

    How differently? By teaching that God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct personages of body and Spirit (except for the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of Spirit only), who are one, only in purpose. Rather than teach that these three are one in substance, with no body.

    How does a group of churches that can't agree among themselves on the teachings of God, reach a mutual consensus that one among is wrong and the rest are all right on ANY point of doctrine? How can they justifiably say: “You’re not Christian, because you interpret the scriptures differently than I do!”? Is that absurd, or just ridiculous?

    Oh, by the way, ever wonder what Christ did with His resurrected body?

    August 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  16. melthemean

    Quite a lively discussion and many varying opinions (yes, "opinion"). God works in mysterious ways. I admire Glenn for what he's doing and apparently others do too (ie: Alveda King). DVR his show (and for those of you who turn him off after 10 minutes, develop a longer attention span) & watch it. You'll find the truth there (with hard facts to back them up), not just the half-truths and propaganda you'll get from the msm. Mormans are used to persecution; they were forced out of Nauvoo by intolerant, ignorant people like those who're posting here. I find a common theme among these comments, too; a large majority have obviously never read, or have forgotten, the Ten Commandments (or the Golden Rule, if you prefer). There is good and evil on this earth. One of Satan's best tricks is convincing you he doesn't exist. An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” And "Mother Teresa was once asked how she coped with serving the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. She responded that what she saw in the cities of the United States was much more disturbing, because it was a "poverty of the spirit." To those of you who don't believe there is a God, then "Karma's gonna getcha!"

    August 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  17. kir

    It's funny how these Beck defenders sound so much like the Obama lovers that they despise...

    August 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • James from San Antonio

      I was thinking the same thing. Inductive arguments always fall in the end.

      August 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  18. Diane

    What draws anyone to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh? Its interesting that so many so called Christians are not only drawn to the Bible, but they are also drawn to conservative entertainers like Palin, Rush, Beck & Hannity, etc. who all send a loud message of hate, divisiveness and fear. What in their personalities causes some people to be such followers? I think they have a need to belong to a club that is familair to them and because they have a fear of things that are different they stick to their clique. We know they already have a fear of social change. Christianity is about the big Daddy in the sky who is going to protect everyone from evil and change to naturally fearful people is EVIL. But God is like a personal body guard for anyone who believes in him. Palin, Rush and the whole screwy conservative lot have just jumped on the "protector" bandwagon. And Qauyle Jr. is going to "knock some head around in Washington"! Apparently, bullies attract followers and believers. If you feel weak inside, you look for strength on the outside in the form of loud mouthed bullies who claim that they are looking out for YOU. After all Palin is a "Mama Grizzly" and she's on your side! The one thing this country doesn't need is another loud-mouthed conservative bully. It's too bad that so many people are incapable of seeing through these conservative "snake oil salesman" whose only motives are to advance their own personal wealth at the expense of hard working Americans who trust them out of fear.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  19. Diane

    What draws anyone to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh? Its interesting that so many so called Christians are not only drawn to the Bible, but they are also drawn to conservative entertainers like Palin, Rush, Beck & Hannity, etc. that all send a loud message of hate, divisiveness and fear. What in their personalities causes some people to be such followers? I think they have a need to belong to a club that is familair to them and because they have a fear of things that are different they stick to their clique. We know they already have a fear of social change. Christianity is about the big Daddy in the sky who is going to protect everyone from evil and change to naturally fearful people is EVIL. But God is like a personal body guard for anyone who believes in him. Palin, Rush and the whole screwy conservative lot have just jumped on the "protector" bandwagon. And Qauyle Jr. is going to "knock some head around in Washington"! Apparently, bullies attract followers and believers. If you feel weak inside, you look for strength on the outside in the form of loud mouthed bullies who claim that they are looking out for YOU. After all Palin is a "Mama Grizzly" and she's on your side! The one thing this country doesn't need is another loud-mouthed conservative bully. It's too bad that so many people are incapable of seeing through these conservative "snake oil salesman" whose only motives are to advance their own personal wealth at the expense of hard working Americans who trust them out of fear.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  20. nmarc

    As a gentile who grew up in Utah among the "Saints" I find their history more so than their religious beliefs to be very fascinating. The Mormons were severly persecuted for their religion and were basically chased out of Ohio, Illinois and Missouri – where their leader (prophet) was murdered by a mob – until they emigrated west to the Great Basin. Ironcially at the time it was the Mormons who were the illegal immigrants "crossing the border" in to Mexican territory. The federal government sent the US Army to the territory in 1857 to restore federal authority – Brigham Young had for all intents and purposes established a theocracy – and again during the Civil War, Lincoln ordered the Army to Utah where at Fort Douglas in the Salt Lake Valley foothills he ordered the artillery be pointed AT the city. The there was the persecution of the church leaders in the 1880s who were suspected of being polygamists. Remember the ante-bellum statement "the twin pillars of barbarisim are slavery and polygamy." And in an interesting touch of irony just as some Saints don't want a "mosque" built so close to the WTC, there are municipalities that have fought to prevent the Church from building an LDS temple in their city.

    The Saints aren't without their own misgivings. I remember in the late 60s when African-American football players from schools like the University of Wyoming refused to play against BYU because the Church would not allow males of color to hold the priesthood. People of color were later absolved (?) of the "mark of cain" because the Church realized they needed that demographic to grow the Church. Sorry I've made regional references you may not understand, but in this part of the country the LDS church is simply referred to as the Church.

    So really this argument of are they Christians or aren't they and the are they a cult or aren't they is nothing new, and will probably never be resolved.. In the interim maybe we shoudl follow the advise given by that black man named King: "Can't we all just get along?"

    August 27, 2010 at 2:08 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.