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. Greg

    He was a guitarist for the Yardbirds; very talented.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  2. rb

    Every time people buy into the divine destiny notion a whole lot of people end up being killed
    Are we talking about what happened like 800 years ago?
    and sorry about the spelling im a product of our great educational system

    August 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Wayne

      RB, not only 800 years ago but 200 years ago here in America. It is happening right now in the Middle East and in Africa. It happended in Europe during the reformation. It is happening in Iran. It happened during the crusades. If there is one lesson history teaches us is that once people or nations think they are on a mission of God, regardless of their religion, people end up dying. And, no you are not a product of our educational system, you are a product of your own choosing. Doesn't Beck talk a whole lot about taking personal respnsibility?

      August 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
    • Ryan

      Unfortunately you're just a product of your own ignorance and laziness (with some poor parenting thrown in there no doubt)....but hey, pass the buck all ya want. No one is going to take you seriously now anyways.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:20 am |
    • Kyle

      REFERING TO RYAN....No, I was made to go to public school, therefore I am able to speak about the education or the lack there of that happens in the public school system....you on the other hand appear to have been taught in a controlled environment, with the lack of ability to think independently, or the tools to do so...which is it? It would be best if you kept YOUR comments to yourself...it shows you are a SHEEP....and you lack the neurons to think as an individual....or have smoked so much dope you dont know what is reality, or what is secondary to your drug abuse....

      August 29, 2010 at 1:27 am |
    • Ryan

      REFERRING TO KYLE: Waa-waa-waa I went to public schools and now I'm an idiot, waa-waa-waa. LOL. There is no excuse for you, only a life time of ignorance unless you take matters into your own hands and, for God's sake man, educate yourself. Don't be a victim, despite all the fun you seem to be having playing the part.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:29 am |
    • Kyle

      RYAN.....I make more in a month than you probably do in a year. Sorry you missed the rally, next time swap a shift at the piggly wiggly so you can make it. MAYBE then you will be well informed...and not believing what the writer of this aritcle wishes you to beleive...they must have some degree of professional jealousy...because what is stated in this article IS NOT what went down when i was there. PERIOD DOT COM

      August 29, 2010 at 2:50 am |
  3. Andrew

    Beware of false Prophets! Glenn is just an opportunist, he's the same foolish idiot. I'd guess God or whoever is laughing, a thunderous chuckle. How dare any religious group determine what we shall think or whom to pray to. What shall we Americans do replace the central Democratic Government for a Theocratic Nationalist State? If, such a course emerged towards a Theocracy, our freedoms would be marginalized. Black Rode Regiment? Sounds like some sort of cult.. what is this Iran? The secret SS of Nazi Germany? I thought the true threat was progressives Glenn??.. I now see the truth. This egotist is now slowly becoming the anti-christ.. Be warned! The Bible tells of false prophets.. and you thought Obama was the second coming.. nope Glenn Beck has gone mad, telling the masses God pushed him to do this rally, right? It's a trap, a scheme, to crush Democracy.. and head towards a marshal law state. If you thought the church asked for donations.. just wait until they are the central government.. you think the current government taxes are to high.. hahaha.. you're all in for a big surprise.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Educated American

      Who wants to protect democracy? America is a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  4. Wayne

    Every time people buy into the divine destiny notion a whole lot of people end up being killed

    August 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
    • freewoman

      its called the power of a theocracy. All the churches are hurting for money.
      Bring on the fear, the guilt, the old time morals – that never really existed –
      Beck had many agenda's for his god and pony show.
      After all all it took was a sand bag on a dirt bag to get this s c u m bag to pull it all together.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  5. wanna2know

    It's amazing seeing the new Beck. Must have been penetrated by the Lord and freed of his anger and hatred towards minorities, liberals and foreigners. Perhaps he will bring all of God's children together to be free at last, free at last.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
  6. rb

    By reading all your post I see why this country is in deep trouble. Keepm burying your heads. You will one day relize the error in your ways

    August 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • Ryan

      First of all, the saying is "error 'of' your ways," but that is a minor issue. It is you my friend, and all of those like you, who are hiding your heads (in the Bible and FoxNews), and who are unwilling to think for yourselves or verify any information...at all. But hey, that has never been a strong suit of religious types now, has it?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  7. rudy

    I think Beck is sincere. However, sincerity doesn't make you more correct or see more clearly. Otherwise suicide bombers, paying the ultimate price of sincerity, would be the wisest and most righteous on the planet.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • preacher

      good point

      August 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  8. Trying to divide electorate on social issues as a distraction

    Glen Beck is trying to get everybody fighting about social issues – a Republican famous trick to deflect attention
    from their policy. please stop. The religious right has grown steadily for the country for 50 years. Has this created any jobs, or sent your kids to college. No. Point taken.

    God is NOT mad at you. The country's a mess becasuse WE the sheeple have let people like Beck divide us and argue about wedge issues while all our jobs were sent overseas, while tax codes were changed so that nurses and cops pay higher taxes (pct of income) than the Walmart Heirs.

    Give thanks to God all you want, but you don't need a multiple millionaire (is he an actual billionaire – he may be) to tell you why God wants you to do without benefits, not complain about your job being gone, have no health insurance – not that is not what God wants. Democrats have it down much better on these things even if I don' tagree with their liberal wing on much.

    Tea partyers I don't mean to antagonize you, but wake up and smell the coffee. You've had Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, George W Bush and countless Republican house leaders who had the majority for 20 years until recently. They did the same stuff – spouted about gays, guns, religious wedge issues to get people who couldn't afford to vote Republican voting Republican.

    this is not hard to verify. you have an education. use it.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • Brett

      Yep and now that the democrats are in office were in the biggest debt in the history of mankind. Bush does not touch the amount that the current administration has got us into. Stop drinking the cool aid and see what other countries are saying about our curret government. They are trying to become what the US used to be while Obama and his people continue spending us into the history books. It appears you have been decieved and you don't even know it! Yes Republicans have had their problems, but far fewer than the current administration. It's only been two years and they have un done what took decades of hard work from the people of this country.

      August 28, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
    • News1973

      Seriously, you really think the democrats are doing anything better than the Reps? I think you are the one who needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

      The Democrats play race at every turn to divide people. Didn't you see Al Sharpton's counter-march? I rest my case.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
    • Ryan

      Really Brett, one of the main reasons that our dept appears so much bigger now is because G.W.B. was running both wars off the books (no accountability for spending) and once Obama got into office he did the right thing and started including the wars and all of the stimulus money (started under and caused by Bush) into the ledgers. That is why we have this ridiculous debt. But hey, everything I said can be verified with a little research....but you wouldn't want to trouble yourself with that now, would ya. It much easier to just believe everything that comes out of Beck's mouth huh.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:12 am |
    • pepelebag

      Come on,? Glenn Beck for president. If i guy like this were in office our country would be much better off. He is right God is the only one who can fix this mess. I am Not a teabagger i just believe that OBAMA SUCKS!

      August 29, 2010 at 2:08 am |
  9. Chris

    I was Wash. D.C. for the weekend and I had a chance to attend the Glenn Beck Rally...All I can say is that it was a joke. The people who attended this event are so gullible....I am so glad he didn't sell swamp land in Alaska, it would have sold in 2 mins.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  10. rinsac

    Christo Nazis!!!!!! Nothing more needs to be said. Let them take over and kiss every freedom you have goodbye!

    August 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
    • News1973

      I don't believe in any Religion, but I applaud anyone who actually has the courage to live their values.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  11. jmac

    Have any of you actually watched the guy before jumping on the hate band wagon?

    August 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
    • mrsister

      It's because we have watched Beck that we are on the hate bandwagon. It's so easy to see through his lies, and not because we simply disagree with him and think he is lying. It's because with just a little research, you can prove he is lying or at the very least misrepresenting the truth. Sometimes, he even admits he was wrong, but that doesn't stop people from believing what he originally said. Once the seed of an idea is out there, it's nearly impossible to get back, and he knows that and uses it to his advantage.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
  12. ProfBill

    Beck is a con man and he will milk these fools for every dollar they have......Now he's peddling the "hard" stuff....religion. Remember religion is the opiate of the masses...

    August 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  13. dothack

    Beck's direction this year has been extremely different than that of his first. I kinda miss the crazy Beck and his chalk boards but the more spiritually minded one is rather nice. I too have been wondering about his faith as what he's been saying sounds more like the words from someone you'd see on Daystar. However the man seems sincere and like this article said, isn't trying to go after my wallet.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
    • Rusty Nail

      ... yet!

      August 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  14. Joe, San Diego

    Not even amazing anymore, how folks just listen to Glenn Beck so easily persuaded by what he says and what Sarah Palin says... When Beck found out he might be going blind he wanted to be deeply religiou$ and $prinkle God in hi$ daily me$$age $o NOW he i$ all about the faith
    The intelligence level in America has dropped terribly... ratings television is all about rating... Jerry Springer guests having their own reality show, saddened to say a huge mass of Americans (Ricky Bobby, Sarah Palin and Joe Dirt-types) quite easily believe the crap...

    August 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  15. lmn

    You children are a great add for birth control!

    August 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • Kevin Carney

      Thank you!

      August 29, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  16. drscott

    Are you kidding ? I know you have watched Olberman on MSNBC , who rants and raves til foam comes out of his mouth .
    I know you have watched him and probably a big fan of his hate mongering waaaaay out left wing rants.
    I have watched both and seems to me Beck is trying to do something for the country,besides drive it into a depression like Obama and his cohorts.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • jeff

      Yes... a return to religion. Just what this country needs to solve its problems. Give me a break dude! Let me know when God finishes up with our fossil fuel problems.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  17. jrcutler

    Mormon's believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of the world.
    Mormon's believe that we all have one heavenly Father, the God of Heaven and Earth and that we were created by him.
    Mormon's believe that the purpose of life is to become like Jesus Christ and that he commanded us to be perfect, and all we gain in this life and the next is by his hand, therefore, we could never become as great as God, but he is our role-model and we praise him forever.

    I would know this, because I am a Mormon.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • MarkPA

      And Mormons believe that when you die you get your own PLANET.
      Yea, that's reasonable.

      August 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
    • annette

      Me too.

      August 28, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
    • annette

      jrcutler, me too. It's sad that so many are ignorant.

      August 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
    • LaGryphon

      jrcutler....you left out the part about you can become gods & have your own planet with as many wives as you choose & that you will be having s e x with your multiple wives to create spirit children. Also that your God lives on the planet Kolob with his wife your Heavenly Mother. And that in order to get into the highest level of your Heaven...ie the celestial kingdom you have to be a polygamist

      August 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • News1973

      I like how you liberal hypocrites defend Islam and talk trash about Christianity.

      It just shows how hateful you really are.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
    • dovecom

      and Mormons believe in socialism, theocracy, welfare, taxation w/out representation, the subjugation of women, and unquestioning belief in a faith that is so ludicrous, it invites mocking. I know, cause I am one. Beck doesn't even know what his own faith believes, let alone what the founding father's believed. He doesn't understand history but knows that you don't either. So you believe whatever he says as long as he prefaces it with, "the liberal media don't want you to know this". The founding father's work is there in black and white. We don't need to guess at their intentions. We have their expectations, their philosophy, their hopes, and their knowledge in the constitution. Oh wait, plus the amendments that were/are needed to deal with changing times. After all, they were slave owners, and forgot to include women. They were intellectuals who discussed many things. They were influenced as much by Plato and Socrates as they were by Luther and the Bible. They considered the Bible for what it was, philosophy, not reality. But Beck knows you don't know that, and exploits your ignorance to build a bigger audience. That part of America he has down cold.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
    • Brett

      I wish all mormons believe what you just said. Every Morman I have spoke with does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Does not believe in the Trinity. I have been mocked by many Mormons, and many try to argue with me even when I wasn't looking for an argument.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • Granny

      Mormons must also believe in the misuse of the apostrophe.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • BMo

      Brett – Mormons believe that Jesus is the Son of God, end of story. Joseph Smith: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

      August 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
    • njf

      @granny...Now that was funny!

      August 29, 2010 at 12:36 am |
    • LaGryphon

      BMo.....don't forget to tell everyone that the Mormons believe after Jesus ascended into heaven he went to the Americas to visit the people there. After doing so according to your Book of Mormon peace reigned in the Americas for 200 years. You left out a tiny detail.....well not tiny now is it?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:48 am |
    • MTgal

      I love it. After spending 42 years in the Mormon church, I get to jump on here and learn new things about my religion and doctrine–something I teach every Sunday to about 300 adults–from people who know waayyy more than I do. I earned master's degree, own and run a multi-million dollar ad agency but for whatever reason, I seemed to have missed the boat on some key points in the Mormon doctrine. . . Maybe you guys should consider learning the truth and not settling for rhetoric and lies.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:34 am |
    • Abudu

      Does this mean Beck will soon relocate in Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri, the Mormon's garden of Eden?

      August 29, 2010 at 1:46 am |
    • Jean Moffitt

      Granny, I was starting to get really frustrated with so many people trying to misrepresent my sacred beliefs, then I got to your comment and it changed my frustration into laughter. This one is for you granny "Mormons' are good people, so I think you all should just leave us alone, and leave Glenn Beck alone too." (notice the misused apostrophe) Thanks for the humor.

      September 6, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  18. THW

    I bet he broke down in tears, like he so often does.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
  19. Jas

    A Religious rally?? What? I've been snookered!

    August 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  20. Richard Hurley

    I guess it is people like you that know so much about people you will never meet in person. Heck it is great that you personally know Glenn Beck so well that you can say what ever you want about him. Your rhetoric along with everyone else on this site that is so hateful just proves the theory that honor DOSE NEED TO BE RESTORED. Get off the internet and go get a history lesson and stop being such a fool.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:37 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.