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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. NYTN

    Why is it that I've never heard of these so-called "influential" evangicals mentioned in this article? Where do these people come from?

    August 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  2. Rice Pudding

    Coach P, FYI:

    1. The "white salamander" story came from a letter that Mark Hoffman, a convicted forger and murderer, had "acquired" in the early 1980's. The letter, written by Martin Harris, claimed that a salamander (a creature during the early part of the 19th Century that was commonly associated with the occult) appeared to Joseph Smith and transformed itself into an angel when Joseph was about to get the plates. This, of course, counters the claim that Joseph Smith got the plates from an angel "sent from God" named Moroni.

    2. As you well know, polygamy, while abhorrent to many in the West, has been practiced for millennia in the ancient world, and is still practiced in many cultures today. Even the revered Abraham, the "father of many nations," was a polygamist. To make a correct judgment on this issue, we need to distinguish between cultural norms and religious belief. Joseph Smith, the great contrarian, understood very clearly the consequences of introducing plural marriage in an outwardly puritan culture.

    3. On the issue of African Americans (blacks, Negroes, or "Darkies") being an inferior race, read a recent statement from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "It is morally wrong for any person or group to deny anyone his or her inalienable dignity on the tragic and abhorrent theory of racial or cultural superiority. We call upon all people everywhere to recommit themselves to the time-honored ideals of tolerance and mutual respect." Notwithstanding the issue of the priesthood prior to June 1978 along with misconstrued statements on race, no LDS church leader has advocated that African Americans will be denied all the rights, privileges and opportunities of salvation to the highest degree.

    August 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Jerry D

    It's nice to know that PT Barunum's Legacy lives! Only this huckster sells his suckers " restoring America's honor" while USING God's name. What about America's honor during the Bush regime?

    August 28, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  4. OPSOLO

    shame, shame, shame,

    there alot of posts by people who are Christians but their comments make their faith HIGHLY questinable. I don'
    t know if Glenn Beck is an evil person. What I do know is he states more truth than alot other news networks. I don't know his heart so I can not make the statement he is evil. There was a post by an atheist that was more sound, rational, educated and more Godly than alot of posts by confessed christians. The one I refer to is by " No God, No Religion ". He made it clear he was an atheist BUT his last statement about PATIENCE was very godly. He is correct, no one can prove or disprove with smoking gun evidence who is God or there is no God. Whatever we believe, we take it in faith that what we believe is true. I am a die hard Christian who has a best friend who is a Muslim. We use to argue about what faith is right or wrong til we almost lost each others as freinds because of what we believe. We spoke about it as HUMAN BEINGS and came to the conclusion to love and, resepct one another no matter what. It is my belief that that this is what GOD want all humans to do. Take a minute and think what kind of world would this be if ALL human beings lived by that concept. I think faith base people get it wrong when they INTRUDE and FORCE what they believe on others. I believe homosexuality is a sin, but if someone wants to marry in the same sex, im not going to stop them. I say this because fornication is a sin as well, who stopped me from fornicating before i came to God?? God allowed me to sin and make my decision just as he does with others. SO, IF GOD, allow someone to choose their actions ( granted if its not a crime ) why should I impede or another ?? Patient, love and Tolerance is the key

    PEACE !

    August 28, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  5. Ruzana

    o the moderator: I honestly andwith an open mind ask you: what do you mean by telling me " your comment is awaiting moderation? I just expressed the reality that if we cannot stop diviciveness our society will crumbled. Only the fact of being American should inspire us to work for the betterment of our country. The rest wee historical facts

    August 28, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  6. Ruzana

    Gleen Beck is the only voice that speak up against what is wrong with government. We should have many of them being objective and imparcial. The media in general is shameful trying to veil everything that is against the American People.
    Regarding faith, it should not matter, as long as patriots like Gleen Beck call the American People to defend our country our constitution and our American Values. If you reject the patriot because of belief the we should have rejected the Fathers of our country many were Free Masons starting with George Washington. Stop divisiveness and let's get united as Americans for the betterment of our country.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  7. ybs

    Evangelicals and Glenn look so wholesome! I just wonder how often do they beat off; and from where did they learn this fine art – their folks, church, bible, etc.?

    Moral hypocrisy exposed! 🙂

    August 28, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  8. ybs

    So, how often Glenn beat off before and after his show - not IF but how often? 🙂

    enough said about religions!

    August 28, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  9. ybs

    When will humans realize that all religions are a pile of dung surrounded by sheep that pontificate about its virtuosity?

    August 28, 2010 at 8:50 am |
    • ybs

      Justifying eating it [dung] however you want, the putrid stench lingers!

      August 28, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  10. Watersisland

    OOoohhhh! I thought they said--"Because he's a M-O-R-O-N"!!!

    August 28, 2010 at 2:24 am |
  11. doug

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

    August 28, 2010 at 1:45 am |
  12. Ohio lady

    It's not about Mormonism, it's about Glenn Beck thinking he can speak for all Christians. I am one, and I wouldn't be caught dead going to that rally. I am praying that one of these days the REAL Glenn Beck will be exposed and the truth will be revealed about him. It's too bad people are so gullible as to believe hucksters like him. Give us the news CNN & FOX & MSNBC. We don't want your political agendas.

    August 28, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  13. Mary

    1. sodom and gomorrah
    2. Define Christian.
    3. If I were a Mormon I would hate to be defined as an Evangelical Christian. Mormons are way more Christ-like.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
    • ybs

      Right! They all beat off or touch themselves! 🙂

      August 28, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  14. John

    A Mormon! That explains his "holier-than-everyone" attitude, and his "stockpiling" mantra. I'm sure the LDS elders art thrilled with the fat checks from his mandatory tithing. They can fund another Proposition 8! How does it make you feel that you and all of your ancestors will be retroactively baptized with him? Isn't it enough that we have to suffer his ravings in the present life?

    August 27, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
  15. Michael Honohan

    All Christians can go to hell and take their Muslim and Jew friends with them. There will be no peace in the land while these factions who have been warring for centuries are allowed to flourish.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  16. Michael Honohan

    Two kinds of retard!

    August 27, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
  17. doug

    There is a very funny story about Glenn Beck at http://newspile.weebly.com/

    August 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  18. ted

    wonder if any of these "christians" will talk about the native americans they slaughtered while also talking about their american values. it is so hypocritical it makes me sick. all this crap about the founding fathers and their values, where is the reality check? glenn beck is an idiot.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  19. coltakashi

    CNN demonstrates once again why they are losing viewers to Glenn Beck and Fox: They try to distract attention from the real message of Glenn Beck's event at the Lincoln Memorial by trumpeting religious animosity, smearing both Mormons and Evangelicals in the process.

    Mormons in the US have a range of different political views–witness Harry Reid and Mitt Romney–but there is one thing you will not see: A need for a Mormon Church leader to tell Mormons that they should not be afraid of associating with a person of another faith in a political or patriotic get-together. Mormons routinely cooperate with Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews in efforts to help those in need, such as the relief efforts in Haiti and after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. They teach that all men and women have the right to worship God in the way they believe is right, and that no one should suffer discrimination because of his or her religious faith or lack thereof. Mormons don't call other people names because of their religious affiliation. While Mormons put great personal effort in telling others about their beliefs, they do not coerce people into joining them, since one of their cardinal beliefs is that God has given moral freedom (and accountability to God for use of that freeedom) to all humanity.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  20. TheRationale

    Shh, people, be quiet. Let the religious idiots fight themselves. The rational folks will take over when they're all gone.

    August 27, 2010 at 7:14 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.