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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. pacsman1972

    Between Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly.... I am ready to move to another country. Palin's version of "America" is a world where she can live alone. GOODBYE AMERICA!!! I WILL FOREVER MISS YOU!!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  2. reggie

    This is rediulous! all this guy is trying to do is sell his book. GIVE ME A BREAK. He has NO CREDABILITY AS A RELIGOUS LEADER.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  3. rhumba

    This is just about the scariest article I've ever read. Beck continues to remake himself into whatever plays on the biggest fears of his scared and angry followers. The trend right now is a return to religion because times are hard. Beck is right there ready, willing, and able to be their messiah.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  4. Michael Brummitt

    Glen and Palin are mixing the Kool-Aid

    August 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  5. shrimp poboy

    LOL! Glenn Beck is laughing all the way to the bank on this one.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
    • LMD

      Yup,,just like other cult leaders he will bleed them dry.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:02 am |
  6. eddie harris

    if you are white and support cnn, you are the equivalent of black person wanting to join the kkk.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
    • chuckly

      and here you are supporting CNN by reading their story's and posting a comment!!

      August 29, 2010 at 12:04 am |
    • Emilio

      You mean CNN is not "fair and balanced" enough for you?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  7. Dave

    Glen Beck is a symptom of the ignorance and the frustration of a part of the American population who are looking for an answer. People want to believe and the guy is somewhat convincing until you start to "think". Then he just looks like a bozo. Due to the large percentage of ignorant people in this country, Glen has a good sized audience. Mostly poorly educated frustrated middle and lower class Americans looking for answers as to why their kids can't find jobs, and why they keep making less and less money each year.. Remember, 20% of the population thinks that Obama is a Muslim. That same 20% are the same group of idiots attending his Rally in DC this weekend. Beck makes about as much sense as Mama Grizzley – Sarah (get my gun) Palin. Having them on the same stage is only natural.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
    • True Texan

      Unfortunately (or fortunately) sir, that 20% is larger than the voting population in U.S. He just needs to mobilize them. Scary?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  8. dena

    Beck is utilizing \ religion to manipulate the masses through fear preaches extremism. Beck is the American Tailban

    August 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  9. Ryan

    What, are you in fifth grade Kyle? I mean really....grow up.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
    • Kyle

      dude.....are you mad because someone who is not a sheep is pointing out the obvious? I am sorry that you lack the tools in life to be a wealthy individual or to be able to distinguish between what is real and what is PROPAGANDA....Maybe if you could have gotten off at the gas station job you hold and actually went to the rally that we went to yesterday you would better understand what REALLY happend. Who was there, what religions were represented and most of all....what TRUE AMERICANS want to stop from happening to this country......dont be mad because YOUR president has fooled everyone who voted for him....he is a FACADE....and if your even beginning to debate that his AUNT...NOT his grandmother is in this country illegally, I would like to nominate you as the poster child for why siblings shouldnt pro create....cuz we all know theres no fixin stupid...and your definitely stuck on it friend. Put the drugs down man geezz

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

        Gentleman: This President became the Editor of the Havard Law Review because of his talent. Your skin color has nothing to do with any personal effort but it was giving to you. Cut the shades, this is about racism. Your seems to be unaware of how many European countries have socialist governments and have not turned into comunist regims. Besides, the USA will never have a socialist government because the President represent just one power and the Judicial is your Right Wind hands and the other is divided. Take a deep breath and think that White people will have a White President again. This is not the end of the world... Let a good-intentioned and decent man to saven this country from the disaster that those who are sold out to the Wall Street billionaires put into a Recession. And Mr. Beck is as religious and sincere as I am blond with blood eyes!

        August 29, 2010 at 2:46 am |
        • Mike in Oregon

          What "talent" did he exhibit to get into Harvard or be named editor of the HLR? Why can't we read any of his Harvard writings, or perhaps his thesis (or even see his grades or courseload)? As for European Socialist countries not turning to true-communism, that is accurate...but they are failing. (And thanks for admitting that he wants to transform us into a Socialist country).
          It is NOT about race (except for his defenders) – I would vote for LtCol West in a heartbeat (look him up). What is is about is redistribution of wealth and the demonization of achievement. (Research Cloward and Piven sometime...insightful liberal thinkers).
          Also, in case you haven't noticed, the other two branches of government are rapidly becoming irrelevant – Supreme Court is becoming a rubber stamp to political agendas, and congress is being bypassed by Executive Orders (i.e. EPA ruling that CO2 is a "greenhouse gas"). Hmmmmmmm

          August 29, 2010 at 3:08 am |
        • Jaded

          @Mike in Oregon

          Your post is undeserving of thanks. You "conveniently" seem to forget what your "Bush" did during his "administration."
          It was during the "Bush" years that we all saw the systematic destruction of the Const!tution and the subversion of our country. If you have a problem with the way things are going, go talk to R0ve, Chen-ey, and those "folks".
          They, and others like them, are the ones who are doing this to the USA. Treas0n plain and simple...and you are "aiding and abetting" them.
          Hmmmm.

          August 29, 2010 at 6:29 am |
        • Wazzup

          Do you have any examples of "systematic destruction of the Constitution" or are you just reading from usual liberal talk points?

          August 29, 2010 at 8:05 am |
        • Reality

          G. Bush as president continued our War on Terror and Aggression:

          A summary:

          Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed as of 8/10/2010 mostly by Shiite and Sunni koranic-driven suicide bombers.

          – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

          – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

          – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

          – Libya has become almost civil. Recently Libya agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the victims of their terrorist activities. Apparently this new reality from an Islamic country has upset OBL and his “cra-zies” as they have thre-atened Libya. OBL sure is a di-sgrace to the world especially the Moslem world!!! Or is he???

          – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

          – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

          – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

          – Bin La-d-en has been cornered under a rock in Western Pakistan since 9/11.

          – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

          – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols will follow soon.

          – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

          – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

          – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.

          – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

          – And of course the bloody terror brought about the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

          August 29, 2010 at 8:36 am |
        • reality

          You are a nutty freak...worst part is you actually believe this drivel.

          August 29, 2010 at 8:41 am |
        • Jeff

          Mike, have you ever even watched Beck? Read the Constitution? I have and Beck is correct on many of these issues. Our country has been hijacked by the left / progressives, and we are going to take it back. It must horrify those of you on the left that think there are actually those of us who are willing tell the truth and fight to restore the promise of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Sure Beck has his issues, but I believe he cares about the future of America and sees it sliding into socialism. Too many "Americans" are already convinced that the "Government" is the answer, and have their hands out. We have been reminded of this all week on the news, as it is the 5th anniversary of Katrina. We have spent almost 18 billion dollars to rebuild New Orleans and they still have their hands out for more, and I have not heard one word of thanks, just complaints that the money is not flowing fast enough. We missed a great opportunity to resettle most of these people in other areas and return much of the New Orleans area to swamp, as nature intended, but that was not politically feasible, due to the biased coverage of the media, most of which were and still are falling over each other other to blame the Government for ratings.

          August 29, 2010 at 8:49 am |
        • Jon24

          You're actually bringing Bush into this? Get over him!

          August 29, 2010 at 9:20 am |
        • Bonita

          Get over Bush??? I would LOVE to get over Bush but my 401K and all of the dead soldiers in two useless wars won't allow me to forget this moron! Get over Bush??? The depreciating value of my home and the lack of employment opportunities doesn't allow me to 'forget Bush/Cheney." Get over Bush? You mean the person who got away with WAR CRIMES and caused the World leaders to hate us with a passion so deep that we live everyday in fear??? Sure.........I'll get over him, when he is imprisoned for all of the harm and destruction that he is responsible for from 2000-2008!

          August 29, 2010 at 10:23 am |
        • Reality

          Bonita,

          Hmmm, Clinton was the one who allowed the banks to run wild with our money. With respect to war crimes, Clinton missed the opportunity to take out OBL. Obviously, he allowed his s-ex-ual desires to interfere with being commander and chief.

          August 29, 2010 at 10:41 am |
        • KyleIsStuckOnStupid

          Ha ha...ha ha ha....hahahahahahahahahaha

          1. Grab neck firmly with both hands
          2. Tug hard
          3. Remove cranium "A" from anus "B"

          If steps 1-3 fail, repeat procedure until cranium has been removed from rectum.

          August 29, 2010 at 10:44 am |
      • Joyce

        I think you will find out that Beck, not the president, is the one who is fooling people. How can you say the things he has said and all of a sudden in one day claim to be so religious. As we have seen in the past, most all of these preachers llike him are in it for the money. Notice I said most not all,

        August 29, 2010 at 9:27 am |
        • Bonita

          Joyce, these "ignorant followers" of people like Beck, Hannity, Palin and FOXNEWS don't have the mental ability to know the difference, but I give you credit for your attempt to educate the uneducable! These "lonely souls" are looking for a platform to be a part of that doesn't take much to become involved, a place to express their "unwarranted fear" of CHANGE! They cry out a different message everytime.......all points to their inability to conform to the 21st Century and what it takes to succeed as a Nation that was destroyed by Republicans.

          August 29, 2010 at 10:31 am |
      • KyleIsStuckOnStupid

        I want to see your IQ certificate.

        I'll bet it says "15".

        August 29, 2010 at 10:41 am |
      • Alpha 1

        Kyle, I love reading your words. Your post- 1:34 am–just go to bed maybe you'll feel better in the morning!!

        August 29, 2010 at 10:44 am |
      • Deinert

        I think your attacking someone you don't agree with is the point. Our politicians do this all the time and it never solves anything. Attack the message not the messenger.

        August 29, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  10. Jennifer

    Everybody wants to rule the world.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Beck is someone who is not a democrat........how refreshing.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  12. LMD

    GB should take a page from this man's run for the presidency:

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

    I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
    This was JFK concerning religion,at a time when becoming the first catholic was a taboo

    August 28, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  13. Michael Brummitt

    Glen Beck is like Joseph McCarthy a fear munger and needs to be called out for what he is we need a good guy like Joseph Welch to call him out.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  14. True Texan

    He is very good. This lengthy thread is the proof that he is very good at getting attention; one way or another. Who is idiot?

    August 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
    • bailoutsos

      You? for adding to it?

      August 28, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
    • Dave

      You is..

      August 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
    • The Deep Toucher

      I don't think anyone reasonable is doubting Beck's genius. And I think we can call it genius at this point. He is still a super DB.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:02 am |
  15. LCS

    I think Greg is thinking of Jeff Beck the guitarist.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  16. chuckly

    Did anyone ever stop and wonder why these rightwing nutjobs get so popular?
    Because right wing voters cannot think for themselves at all, they are afraid too.
    So they all tune into the likes of Beck, Rush, Hannity, O'reily etc.... so that they know what to think each day.
    They don't have a clue how to make their own decisions.
    Left wing shows and announcers don't get as big because they are only viewed spiratically because the left knows how to think for themselves and don't have to watch religiously just to know what to eat in the morning.
    It's rather pathetic...................

    These popular nutjob hosts know this and play on their viewers fears and leave the viewers feeling that they cannot make a step in the day without first finding out which foot first the host tells them to step with. These hosts are "god's" to their listeners,and the poor listeners are hooked on these shows like soap operas, and couldn't breath a breath if they couldn't get their fix each day!!

    August 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
    • a6102658

      They are Weak Minded Sheep

      August 29, 2010 at 12:09 am |
  17. bailoutsos

    Palin and Beck 2012 - Every issue that America has will be solved within 30 days of them taking office.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
    • True Texan

      idiot x2 to you for lengthening it. woops! i added another one. let's see who is the last idiot standing!

      August 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
    • NoFortunateSon

      Well, the apocalypse isn't really what we're looking for in terms of solutions.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
    • dena

      Really?? Please enlighten us on ALL the issues they will solve??

      August 29, 2010 at 12:02 am |
    • a6102658

      I will love to see that, Americans will be crossing the border with Mexico, just to get away.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  18. yellahammer

    And Al is a reverend??

    August 28, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
    • freewoman

      Al is p i s s e d.. Beck broke the most sacred rule of the myth masters.

      Do not take a day that is declared a holy day for any other myth as your own.

      especially if you take money too.
      Beck knew what he was doing.... he broke the holy day commandment and they will make him pay... one day he will pay. you can count on that.

      August 29, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  19. Surthurfurd

    Why do so many people who profess to be Christian deny Christ's messages? We ignore the plight of the poor, sick, and abused to the point we seem to relish in claiming some moral right to blame those mentioned in the Beatitudes for their condition.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  20. rexregalis

    The Black Robed Regiment sounds about as Anti-Jesus as can be...not anti-Christian of course, since they've been murdering, raping & generally spreading foul hatred for two millenia, but seriously, you 'evangelicals' need to get a grip. CRAZY...like scary bible thumping nut jobs who want nothing more than for fire to rain down upon the world...American Jihadists at their best. Makes me sick to my stomach. Thank god I'm an Atheist...& a compassionate human being. Glenn Beck is the pen-ultimate right winged boob. If the religious revolution rocks this nation to it's secular core, I will be on the front lines fighting the zealots. May wisdom, calm logic & a sense of universal brotherhood win out over the ignorance of the Judeo-Islamic-Christian Evil.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:52 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.