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. mike

    Why does beck remind me of hitler or charles manson!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:07 am |
    • brad

      Really he does? Listen to him for one week...and then make a such a statement

      August 29, 2010 at 12:09 am |
    • mike

      My last comment probably will not be posted(typical left-winged media) but I have listened to beck and yes he sounds a lot like hitler or manson or any other psycho who brainwashes the masses to do their bidding

      August 29, 2010 at 12:24 am |
    • freewoman

      I wonder if Beck is reading any of his fan mail here?

      August 29, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • freewoman

      i guess those little girls in Texas who are married?? to those dirty old Mormon men are imaginary wives

      August 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  2. bleeding heart liberal

    It's George Bush's fault. Honestly. Everything for the next 25 years will be his fault.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  3. cuteykev

    Hi everybody! :o) Grifters and flim-flam men do that. They're a talk show host in one town and a righ'reverend in the next town over. They're the new used car salesman in the county one day and the Music Man another day in the next county over. And the sad part is that the tinkerer in his shanty cart attracts the rural folk (or the Tea Partiers in this case) who don't know much better. Maybe tomorrow he'll come out and cry about his time in the public toilets. Or perhaps he'll release a rap album! Maybe he'll tell people that he can fly. I'll make popcorn as we wait to see what and who he'll be next. :OD

    August 29, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  4. iPwn

    Keep it up Beck, I'm sure someone will put a bullet in you, this was the wrong speech to give.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • Fly737

      ts the liberal spirit! keep it up....

      August 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
  5. Sharon/Baby Boomer Queen

    As Glenn Beck would say: Just reporting the facts. Well, here are some about Glenn Beck. Those of you who want to follow him...well...buyer BEWARE!

    Glenn Beck...From Wikipedia

    While working at WPGC, Beck met his first wife, Claire. The couple married and had two daughters, Mary and Hannah. Mary developed cerebral palsy as a result of a series of strokes at birth in 1988.

    The couple divorced in 1994 amid Beck's struggles with substance abuse. Along with being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, Beck has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    By 1994, Beck was suicidal, and imagined shooting himself to the music of his fellow Washingtonian, Kurt Cobain.

    However, he cites the help of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in his sobriety and attended his first AA meeting in November 1994, the month he states he stopped drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis.

    After getting clean, Beck would claim that he had gotten high every day for the previous 15 years, since the age of sixteen.

    In 1996, while working for a New Haven-area radio station.,

    Beck briefly attended Yale University. Beck took one theology class, "Early Christology," and then dropped out. This was followed by Beck going on a "spiritual quest" where he "sought out answers in churches and bookstores."

    As Beck later recounted in his books and stage performances, his first attempt at self-education involved six wide-ranging authors:

    Alan Dershowitz

    Pope John Paul II

    Adolf Hitler

    Billy Graham

    Carl Sagan

    Friedrich Nietzsche.

    During this time, Beck's Mormon friend and former radio partner Pat Gray argued in favor of the "comprehensive worldview" offered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an offer that Beck vehemently rejected until a few years later.

    My Father used to say, "If you wallow with the pigs, you are likely to get slop on you." This report from WIKI suppots that theory.

    ~The Baby Boomer Queen~

    August 29, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • WouterWolf

      It's sad that you know very little about the LDS church.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:12 am |
    • Elena A

      I think every child should be educated – here are the after-effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Wait.. I thought Mormons are supposed to abstain from all that.. Anyway, clearly, drugs do fry your brain.. I am glad I said no.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:48 am |
    • freewoman

      good example of a little knowledge in the hands of a fool is very dangerous.

      August 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  6. Emilio

    I hope Glenn Beck sucks every nickel out of the pockets of his sheeple followers, I really do.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  7. Kohaniem

    If Beck is rallying Americans to return to a god, he better choose wisely because My God of Torah is a harsh, jealous God that doesn't value tolerance and doesn't love you heathens by 'default'

    August 29, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  8. Tony83703

    If there is any such thing as the Anti-Christ, Glenn Beck probably fills the bill.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • Kohaniem

      JC was anti-My God of Torah and he died a miserable death because of his blasphemy

      August 29, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  9. gwaters025

    I really am tired of this elitist mentallity, it seems so frequently nowadays to see the liberal argument begin with...wow you are really stupid aren't u, koolaid drinker...etc. In my opinion the only people worthy of being labelled at least somewhat stupid are those that attack these issues strictly from a black and white perspective. At the end of the day entierely liberal or conservative is wrong, one is clearly meant to balance the other, trouble is that never seems to happen. My personal opinion Beck has gone a little too far into religion for my taste, though I wouldn't discount him entirely, the man makes a lot of valid points, try watching his show, or just rant at how stupid everyone is for thinking he has anything to bring to the table, I have those arguments frequently with other people, Beck is racist, he's horrible...frequently from people who have NEVER even watched his show...man, if that isn't stupid...sheepish behavior I'm not sure what is...

    August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • The Deep Toucher

      I listened to Glenn Beck for years when he only had his daily radio show. He was far less radical. Something happened to him; he has gone completely insane, and most of the charges of racism and intolerance, frankly, are spot on.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • Emilio

      That's right, you are really stupid. It is an empirical fact that the conservative brain is wired differently to that of the more logical liberal brain, and that makes you less smart, i.e. you're really stupid.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • Ralph

      I'm really tired of the over-use of this word "elitist"! It's usually used (in the past few years anyway) to belittle people with education and intelligence! Who on God's green earth could be more "elitist" than a rich boy who used humans as toy soldiers and set them off to Iraq to impress his daddy? Who could be more "elitist" than the whole Bush family, as they sip martinis on their oil money yacht off the coast of Kennebuckport? Who could be more "elitist" than John McCain and his multi-millionaire wife? This word "eliist" is highly over-used (and parroted by the FOX News crowd) and the definition has been taken sorely out of context!

      August 29, 2010 at 12:19 am |
    • gwaters025

      Emilio, thank you for making my case, please go troll elsewhere, the liberal community could surely use your talents elswhere. Frankly I find it difficult to argue with you on matters of intelligence when you failed to read or properly respond to the post with a constructive opinion or a fact even. More importantly, I did not claim to be a liberal or conservative, my arugment by it's very nature is to promote discussion on both sides not just one, I would call you stupid as you have me, but I'm not on here to name call with 15 yr olds, seek life elsewhere, thanks.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:22 am |
    • gwaters025

      Ralph, I had no idea that conservatives had hyjacked the word elitist, I simply view anyone on both sides of the isle that constantly label people stupid for having an opinion that differs from their own as an elitist. You have a lot of passion against conservatives, can't say I blame you. Honestly had the same problems with previous higher ups, Bush was no exception. My entire argument is this...shades of grey, black and white gets all of us no where and fast.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:28 am |
    • bogey_golf

      Well said 025. I'm not completely sold on all the conservative views but I am very afraid for my country. The USA was founded on the Constitution and whether we like it or not, God was a large influence. Say what you want about Beck because its your "Right". Independents like me are finally waking up! American-Mexican.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:28 am |
  10. Yvette

    You can't be patriotic because it makes you seem like a white fanatic. You can't be spritual because then you seem like a white racist bible thumper. You can't live your life with morals and values because that's just not liberal and not the direction you clowns want for America. There's no inner peace without a little help from God and that may be why we've, as a nation, become so damn self centered and clueless. The feel good generation...the one's that keep prozac one of the most prescribed drugs, you've all become numb to real feelings. I suggest you look up once in a while and ask how the hell we got ourselves in this mess to start with. Look around...our values have gone out the window and God has been put in the trunk and only needed when you are on your death bed. Guess what, America is on it's death bed and we desperatly need an intervention even if it is from some talk show host that may be going blind? but can see the road ahead quite clearly. BTW, I'm hispanic and support AZ!!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • NoFortunateSon

      America is on its death bed? Who put us there? And what exactly did this man offer today besides platitudes that will help us get out of our predicament?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
  11. FLYER

    I am a military pilot and it is awesome to see a media type like Beck step up and support the American Dream. It is sad to see others make this rally an issue regarding civil rights. The fact Beck and 200000 to 400000 other Americans rallied reconfirms our civil rights as Americans, no matter the color of our skin.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  12. chilliepepper

    Man sure alot of hate toward Beck on this blog. Beck had a great messages and Dr. Aveda King was there giving the same message. But i didn't see anyone railing agaist her message which was the same. We must all come together as a people or perish as fools as Dr.King put it. While the race baiter Sharpton had his anti Beck rally which had a angry tone. Mostly about Beck. Got to keep that racial divide for whatever reason? MONEY? Obama is no better than Sharpton in race relations. DIVIDERS! You far left liberals on here have been brainwashed to hate even with a very positive message. SAD

    August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  13. Kate

    Color me surprised. This is just the beginning of Glenn Beck's political "ambitions". And, the sad thing is, they will fall for it. Glenn, you just sealed the deal with the devil. You and your people must be proud.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  14. Kohaniem

    Beck speaks of 'honesty', of turning back to a god. But which god? Back to the god of the christians? Back to the god of the jews or back to the god of the muslims? If Beck were honest he would have clearly defined which of the several gods he was referring to. In fact none of the above gods have anything to do with My God of Torah!

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

      Wow, are you kidding?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:09 am |
    • freewoman

      so many gods too little money to make them happy

      August 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  15. Sphere

    God is a tool used by would-be leaders to control the masses. He's nothing more then a made up figment of the masses to explain everyday happenings as 'divine'. If there was a God, you wouldn't need to follow a self righteous, self proclaimed 'leader' to worship him. All you do is give the person/persons/organization the power they want by feeding them.

    God is the greatest troll who ever existed, because he simply does not exist.

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

      The Single Strand will tell you how and why...

      August 29, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  16. WouterWolf

    I'm amazed at all those that think they know Glenn Beck, belittle him you may, but what have you done to help out your country? umm? Most of you posting trash about a man that has brought back knowledge of our past history is something we shouldn't just toss in the towel on. If each of you would stand up and do something usefull to help out mankind or better yet your country, then maybe we would not need a Glenn Beck to point out what is missing from our text books. Seen when did doing the right thing become wrong. Why is it, that when a person or people try to help those that are seeking truth there is always some one failing to understand the message. The more you read the more you find you don't know, like so many of you on so many different blogs, don't get it. You would rather sit on your butt and let someone else do the dirty work for you while you back bite everything they do. Your like the person that would smile at your face then knife you in the back once you turn. Surely with all you back bitting that you do, I hope that your life is full of happiness, becuase you are worth little to anyone else. From all the junk that is on TV, Beck brings some sound thoughts. But again, what have you done for this country, what have you done for the world, and what will you do if infact he is right? What if? do your research!!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:03 am |
    • pacsman1972

      Is $50,000 a year in taxes, voting, saving lives in the ER not enough? Do you need to be my "spiritual leader" as well? Oh yeah, this isn't Iran... or is it? Give me a break..

      August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • LMD

      Hmm,lets see I have worked since I was 14,married a a vet,raised 4 educated(on my dime) children,have 2 children in the military(1 being redeployed very soon),donated to many charities,worked clothing drives,food drives,paid my taxes,sent letters to our soldiers,sent care packages to them as well.have voted since I was old enough,have read the bible,(am now agnostic),and I could go on,or is that not enough?

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

      What has Glenn Beck done for this country besides talk?

      And I really wouldn't be trusting a television personality to bring you history. There are books you can read yourself.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:13 am |
    • Rick in WV

      I've done my research for the last two years! Beck is inconsistent, irrational, and illogical. He is definitively bigoted when talking of socialism, liberalism, communism, etc. by trying to distort his listeners'/viewers' views with a straw-man target he manufactures out of cherry picked excerpts and major loss of context. I've listened and watched him then go on incoherent attacks on said targets only to fall back half the time on either the destruction of the nation or the rise of Nazism, expecting his audience trust his analysis without thinking for themselves. Then you call CNN bigoted because they reported on it, I can't even make this rant on FOX News website (and I've tried many times). I don't think he should be the one challenging us to anything. This nation was built on Deism not Christianity. He can't even figure that out!??! All he's done is polarize Americans with fear and nonsense over trivial stuff for his own financial and egotistical gains

      August 29, 2010 at 12:13 am |
    • pacsman1972

      Well said Rick in WV...

      August 29, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • mmemery

      Please. People who listen to Glenn Beck regarding American history is like the student who buys the Cliffs Notes version of "Romeo and Juliet" and thinks he knows all about Shakespeare.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  17. John

    Watch the movie, "A Face in the Crowd," with Andy Griffith, and you'll know exactly who Glenn Beck is.

    I recently wrote an extensive piece about Beck's adoption of Hitler's philosophy regarding crowd manipulation and political PR. It's shocking how much of Beck's doctrine is taken directly from Hitler's playbook. You can read all about it at thingsishouldnthavetotellyouDOTblogspotDOTcom.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  18. Observer

    Glen Beck does not have to be anyone other that a human being who wants good for this country. He does not have to be Black. I am proud of this man.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  19. chili con carne

    I believe he is the antichrist.!!!!!!!!!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:02 am |
  20. cmr

    Beck is great! And look at just how much he can drag out the nutbags on this board who always do nothing but rip apart Christians.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:02 am |
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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.