August 28th, 2010
08:50 PM ET

At rally, Beck positions himself as new leader for Christian conservatives

Among those surprised by all of conservative TV host Glenn Beck's recent religious talk - including at Saturday's Washington rally, where Beck said that "America today begins to turn back to God," - is the Rev. Richard Land, a Southern Baptist leader.

"I've been stunned," said Land, who directs public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention and who attended the Saturday rally at Beck's invitation.

"This guy's on secular radio and television," Land said Saturday, "but his shows sound like you're listening to the Trinity Broadcasting Network, only it's more orthodox and there's no appeal for money ... and today he sounded like Billy Graham."

Beck's speeches around his "Restoring Honor" rally have brimmed with religious language: "God dropped a giant sandbag on his head" to push him to organize the rally, he said Friday.

On Friday night, Beck held a religion-focused event at the Kennedy Center that was billed as Glenn Beck's Divine Destiny.

Beck's speech Saturday also evoked the feel of a religious revival.

"Look forward. Look West. Look to the heavens. Look to God and make your choice," he said.

Beck has also begun organizing top conservative religious leaders - mostly evangelicals - into a fledgling group called the Black Robed Regiment.

The organization, whose charter members convened in Washington this weekend, takes its name from American clergy sympathetic to the Revolution during the 1700s.

Beck's emerging role as a national leader for Christian conservatives is surprising not only because he has until recently stressed a libertarian ideology that is sometimes at odds with so-called family values conservatism, but also because Beck is a Mormon.

Many of the evangelicals who Beck is speaking to and organizing, including Land, don't believe he is a Christian. Mormons, who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, call themselves Christian.

"There's a long history of tensions between Mormons and evangelicals and some of that is flat-out theology," says John C. Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. "Mormons have additional sacred texts (to the Bible) and a different conception of God."

"It's also competitive," Green said, "because evangelicals and Mormons are both proselytizing in the U.S. and around the world."

Some evangelicals criticized Christians for partnering with Beck this weekend because of his Mormon faith, provoking a number of evangelical political activists to pen defenses of their decision to join Beck.

But Evangelicals and Mormons have also stepped up cooperation around conservative political causes in recent years. In 2007 and 2008, presidential candidate Mitt Romney reached out strenuously to evangelical leaders, winning endorsements from the likes of Bob Jones III, a Christian fundamentalist.

Evangelicals and Mormons led the successful push to pass California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, in 2008. Activists from both traditions say they can set aside theological differences in the name of moral issues.

"The evangelicals participating in the Restore Honor event are not endorsing Glenn Beck's theology, nor is he asking them to," said Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, who attended Saturday's rally.

"Together, we and millions of our fellow citizens are calling America back to its Judeo-Christian values of faith, hard work, individual initiative, the centrality of marriage and family, hope, charity, and relying on God and civic and faith-based organizations rather than government," said Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

But Beck has sometimes upset religious conservatives. For instance, he said recently that opposing gay marriage is not a top issue for him.

Since launching his 9/12 Project last year, which is meant to "bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001," Beck has gone in a more religious direction.

The second of the project's nine principles is "I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life."

The Southern Baptist Convention's Land, who hadn't talked to Beck before a few weeks ago, has started getting questions from the TV and radio personality about theological issues.

"I think he's moving - I think he's a person in spiritual motion and has been," Land said.

"He has said as much to us," Land said, referring to fellow pastors. "That he has moved in the direction of being more spiritual, more concerned with cultural issues and seeing that politics isn't the answer."

In discussing religious values, Beck generally speaks from a nondenominational perspective, avoiding specifically Mormon or evangelical references.

Beck's religious rhetoric appears to counter the prevailing conventional wisdom that the power of religious conservatives has been eclipsed by the Tea Party movement's small-government conservatives.

But Green says that "groups of religious people who care about social issues have not gone away."

"Some of their leaders faded but that group didn't disappear," he said. "They are waiting for new leaders and my sense is that Beck would like to be one of those leaders."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (1,965 Responses)
  1. O-ZerO

    President Obama Job Approval
    RCP Average
    Spread -2.0

    Congressional Job Approval
    RCP Average
    Spread -51.5

    Generic Congressional Vote
    RCP Average
    Republicans +4.3

    Direction of Country
    RCP Average
    Right Direction31.7
    Wrong Track61.2
    Spread -29.5

    Why did Beck draw such a crowd???? When OVER 60% of the population think you are headed in the WRONG DIRECTION, you know your head is up your LIBTARD AZZ!!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • Howie2g

      It's easy for a country to blame someone for smothers faults, ie. Bush was asleep at the job when the recession started. Greenspan was made aware of the derivatives that could bring down this country and Greenspan and congress railroaded the lady who made them aware, but ultimately admitted she was right and Greenspan admitted he was wrong, thus causing the recession due to unregulated wallstreet greed. Which happened during the Bush admin and because a new president isn't fixing overnight something that tools years to develop it's his fault? That's stupid. Our greed as corporations and the public put us here. Or did we forget the initial stimulus was bushs idea. Everybody deserves equal blame, get of the trip of blaming liberals and democrats and examine your own backyard as the democrats should do as well. Independent minded and not servant of any one party. I vote for who's right, not based on a party affiliation and sense of radical loyalty regardless of the direction they would take us.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
    • PJVA

      From Gallup:

      Lowest approval ratings during first presidential term:

      Ronald Reagan January 1983 35

      George H.W. Bush July 1992 29

      Bill Clinton June 1993 37

      George W. Bush October 2008 25

      Notice anything???

      August 29, 2010 at 2:08 am |
    • Love My President~

      It's interesting how many of you uneducated juveniles use the expression "libtard." (Although it does fit in with your 4th grade mentality.)

      Your princess, Failin' Palin', has a mentally challenged child, and regularly calls people out for any reference to being "retarded." Yet, you are clearly referencing that word. Better be careful – Sarah's gonna tell your mom!

      August 29, 2010 at 7:51 am |
  2. Dave

    He is an individual speaking his mind as gaurenteed by our first amendment right, as are all the respondents to your question. God Bless America!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  3. Ohio-gal

    What's this crap about "restoring honor"? I don't feel any loss of honor! In fact, since the "shoot from the hip" bully Texan and the "duck hunter" left office, I think we've gained honor from the over-all perspective of the globe! Does Beck think the administration that lied and sent people to die in Iraq helped give us "honor"?...just because he was like Beck, and wanted to eliminate the seperation of church and state?...I don't think so!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  4. Michael -- Citrus Heights, CA

    Jacka$$ beck is smart enough to have read Hitler's handbook on propaganda, and he knows if he repeats the same message, designed for the lowest intelllectual levels in the country, he will always have a following of people who don't want to take the time to critically evaluate what he is saying.

    Those of us who possess the ablilty to think critically have long ago debunked the message from phony christian charlatans.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • Mike in Oregon

      Beck read Hitler's propaganda? How about a little factual clarity, rather than wild accusations regurgitated from Beck-haters.
      It was actually Goebbels (Hitler's propaganda minister) that incorporated one of Woodrow WIlson's progressive buddy's book on how to effectively manipulate the masses – Bernay's "Crystallizing Public Opinion". That's right, straight from Wilson's Progressive agenda to Goebbels bookshelf.
      (BTW, Beck hates that guy, Wilson)

      August 29, 2010 at 2:08 am |
  5. steve

    Flim-Flam man!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  6. Carl

    No Christian Leader exhalts himself, if he does he shall be made a base. I hope that Beck is wise enough to know what settles on the bottom.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  7. Steve

    "God warns this man will be empowered by Satan. He will lead the world into the terrors of the Apocalypse. This coming world leader has been given many names and titles in the Bible, including one of the best known, yet most misleading – the 'Antichrist.' Although he will be against faithful Christians and will mock God’s Word, the world will view him as a great leader and a man of peace. This man will be Satan’s counterfeit messiah. He will use deception and lies to "spin" his web of deceit and to conceal his true motives."

    August 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  8. Peturbed Listener

    Yes I know. I cannot spell. Forgive me. Or don't.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  9. Jimbo

    Sieg heil, Mr. Beck.

    A blinding display of faith.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  10. Jim

    500,000???? Wrong. No estimates are topping 100,000. But I'm not surprised people are just parroting what Beck says, that's all his followers can do. Not an independent thought in their heads.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  11. chris

    there's one problem with calling Beck a leader among Christian conservatives... HE'S NOT A CHRISTIAN!! The mormon "god" is not the God of the Bible, and the mormon "jesus" is not the atoning Redeemer spoken of in scripture. If Christians choose to rally behind Beck's political views, that is one thing, but we must not be sucked in to the idea that this man is a Christian, and therefore give him an ear on spiritual matters. He may have a brain for the political scene, but his soul is lost, and we should pray for him.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Eric

      Have you even met a mormon? Stop posting on CNN last weeks mormon hate rant given by your local hillbilly preacher. There are not too many guys named Jesus Christ out there, and I believe Beck believes in the same one you "say" you do. Please stop preaching on CNN what you think you know about the LDS faith.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • chris

      yessir, I dun met me plenty of them there LDSers. I even read me plenty of books on the subject, and have done right much researchin about those fellers. and you know what??? they ain't Christian. but thanks for the re-spond, friend.

      yours truly,
      hillbilly chris

      August 29, 2010 at 12:44 am |
  12. O-ZerO

    How is that "Summer of Recovery" working out for you SHEEP???? LOL!!!!!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Love My President~

      Well, let's see – I have a great new job and my 401(k) and my portfolio have recovered very, very nicely from the George Bush years 🙂 Thanks for askin' !

      August 29, 2010 at 7:47 am |
  13. Texas_CT

    If Glenn Beck were really religious he'd be in tattered clothes, helping the poor somewhere....not "getting off" on his new-found religion in front of a big crowd. Jesus would be ashamed.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  14. Ronnie

    Christian conservatives? Another right wing wacko!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  15. MadisonMan

    When you don't have anything intelligent to say, attack someone's beliefs. I can think of beliefs that might be viewed as strange in almost any religion. But would not use those beliefs to attack someone who disagrees with me.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
    • iagree

      Well said MadisonMan. It is frighting how many people are so eager to turn what could be informative, educational discussions into 5th grade recess name calling contests. 🙁

      August 29, 2010 at 1:30 am |

        Like I said, lots of "grown ups" putting thier two cents in.

        August 29, 2010 at 1:36 am |
    • Kyle

      It just amazes me what this article says...and what REALLY happend at the rally....you wouldnt get it from reading this....amazes me how many folks will sign off this website and believe what they just read...when 80% of it is FALSE!!!!..

      August 29, 2010 at 1:39 am |
    • mtdHouston

      Then you are the odd-man out. History has shown the opposite consistently.
      Screw Galileo and Hypatia, is the norm. Being hysterical and hypocritical is power advantage.
      What religious planet do you come from?

      August 29, 2010 at 5:22 am |
    • mtdHouston

      Then you are the odd-man out. History has shown the opposite consistently.
      Screw Galileo and Hypatia, is the norm. Being hysterical and hypocritical is power advantage.
      What religious planet do you come from?

      August 29, 2010 at 5:23 am |
  16. DrVonBrain

    Let's see...Beck preaches a mix of "support the troops" and "Christianity". How war and Christianity go together, I don't.....but wait...just look at history.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  17. frank

    He's nobody!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  18. Tosin

    Every Judeo-Christian immigrants that enter into this country never stay conservative even if they start as a conservative. They see HYPOCRITIES, CHEATERS, HATERS who call the President RACIST, money HUNGRY and WEALTH driven Conservatives ...less desire to help the POOR, the WEAK and those who cannot sustain themselves i.e Unemployed, Black farmers, Hispanic farmers. Shouting Jesus or calling people to live a life you are not living can only be attracted to people who fit the same mode.

    Beck rally today brought as many people to his movement as the additional MANNA that came from heaven today....NONE. Thats the God honest TRUTH and this is all a waste of time and waste of space on CNN.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  19. Chris

    For those of you that just want to criticize Beck for whatever reason, look at yourself. Some criticize his past (alcohol/drugs), some criticize just becaue he is on Fox (didn't care when he was with CNN). Why aren't you criticizing Sharpton too. Every word out of his mouth is hatred. "We won't let him(beck) take this day from us", sharpton said today. Sharpton is being divisive and Beck is at least trying to provide a forum to bring people together. I am embarrased that Sharpton calls himself a Reverend. He speaks against what the Bible teaches.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
    • LMD

      I for one will criticize both Beck and Sharpton,as they are both out for themselves and lining their own coffers. Neither one speaks for me,or actually cares what I think. As long as they make headlines,are able to lead people like the cultists they are,do you really believe either one will seriously care what happens at at election time.Of course not. They will still be on tv wagging their tongues and making up stories to get ratings.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  20. Emilio

    On the face of it, if one believes in the anti-christ, then Glenn Beck could almost certainly be that creature, THE ANTI-CHRIST.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
    • DJ McFly

      You Mean .......OBAMA?

      August 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • a6102658

      DJ McFly: No, Glenn Beck...silly

      August 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
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About this blog

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.