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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. Kohaniem

    Who is the god of the catholic?

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

      God the Father and Creator of the Universe, The Son Jesus- who is mans absolute salvation from sin through Jesus sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit-the spirit of God living is those who accept Jesus as the son of God. Mystery Solved.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  2. Religious freaks

    Glenn Beck is an actor. He is all about the money and fame...Ablsolutely, positively clueless

    August 29, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  3. Bob

    Cheryl..... Are you frigging serious...... Keith " everyone who is not a progressive is a racist " Olbermann makes sense to you???? Story 5 is about a racist Congressman, who won't bow to the altar of Obama with him.... So on and so forth, until he get to the something for nothing crowd.... The worst persons in the world are racist TPM...... To story 1, a racist somebody... Same act every night.... The Eugene Robinson comes on and agrees with him....

    Don't forget to catch Shultz, Mathews and Maddow, same crap, different time slot....

    I know facts are very difficult for Big Gov't supporters.... But tell me, Why does L.A. need a 1/2 million dollar school, wjth an olympic swimming pool and a movie theatre... When that district has a 50% drop out rate... Since the DOE was formed. and public schools were moved out of the state control... Our public schools have been failinging miserably.... 70 yrs of entitlement programs have made the slums larger and the gov't bigger....

    A friend asked me the other day. How did trickle down economics work for you, Bob.... Answer, I had a job ever since I graduated from high school.... Until the Dem's took Congress in 07... It took me a yr. to find a job.... driving truck cross country to pay my bills... And have never collected unemployment, or any other form of welfare.....

    I will take Glen Beck over the biggest divider ever to hold public office... One Barack Hussein Obama....

    August 29, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  4. 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 200,000 to 400,000 other Americans rallied reconfirms our civil rights as Americans, no matter the color of our skin. It feels good to be an American.

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

      While I hate what Glenn puts forth into the national discourse most of the time. I agree that seeing people exercise their rights is a testament to the USA. Now is we can get everyone to extend such rejoice to others. (esp. to non- Christians)

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

      The size of the crowd has been downgraded to the more reasonable 87000.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:26 am |
    • thehomelessguy

      It is one thing to state your opinion and beliefs, it's another thing to mislead, distort the truth, and manipulate the weak and vulnerable. These are the things the Beck is about. He is beyond the pale.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
    • Rick in WV

      Has anyone tried calculating attendance with assumption of standard distribution of obesity as among white Americans. I bet that three Beck's estimates off. Judging by the footage, there wasn't much diversity off stage.

      August 29, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
    • Rick in WV

      Has anyone tried calculating attendance with assumption of standard distribution of obesity as among white Americans. I bet that threw Beck's estimates off. Judging by the footage, there wasn't much diversity off stage.

      August 29, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  5. altposaune

    Really?

    August 29, 2010 at 12:12 am |
  6. Kohaniem

    So which god was he referring to? The god of Hitler?

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

      Wow, are imaginations are running wild aren't they?!?! Come up with something a little more original

      August 29, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  7. Hotpants

    Lets try this again LSM,

    Join the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and many more for this non-political event that pays tribute to America’s service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.

    Our freedom is possible only if we remain virtuous. Help us restore the values that founded this great nation. On August, 28th, come join us in our pledge to restore honor at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

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

      What honor?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:15 am |
    • WouterWolf

      a6 look it up..

      August 29, 2010 at 12:35 am |
    • donna

      a6...Don't allow your hate to miss the point. The point is that they wish to restore Liberty through Honor. Honor is accepting personal responsibility for one's actions rather than acting irresponsible and expecting the government to take care of you. This is what turns all good people into slaves. The civil rights movement in America is not about slavery but about freedom. Freedom requires responsibility. Responsibly requires moral courage. Moral courage requires integrity. Integrity requires character. To build one's character requires virtue, virtue requires values, and values requires faith. Achieving these things leads you to uphold your honor throughout your life.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:50 am |
  8. Brian James

    Dear Glen Beck and flock, please fast forward to the special kool-aid part.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Fly737

      Are we going to the same Kool-Aid pot the Obama drinkers were at?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  9. trainwreck

    glenn beck is the man who said churches should fire any leaders following the teachings of Jesus

    August 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
  10. Kohaniem

    Regardless, Hitler was still a catholic and married a catholic

    August 29, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  11. Fly737

    Great! the liberals are getting squirmy! Keep it up Beck, lets see who has the last laugh in November.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • a6102658

      Idolizing a Snake Charmer, ....hooray for you!!!

      August 29, 2010 at 12:13 am |
    • Fly737

      And hooray for you, I'm sure you idolize the great chairman Obama

      August 29, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  12. Egbert

    That's because you are an ignoramus.

    Thank God for Glenn Beck. This country is STARVING for moral focus and leadership. Beck has placed his life on the line, in what may be a last chance effort, to save this country.

    I pray for Beck – for his safety and for his success.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:09 am |
  13. Dr Bill Toth

    I believe it would do Americans and America a LOT of good if we were to Re-member where we were physically, intellectually, emotionally and Spiritually on 09.12.01.
    Live with Intention,
    DrBllToth.com/blog

    August 29, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  14. Andrew

    It's the final stage of his paranoia. This isn't that uncommon among the skitzos.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  15. A-religious

    Be afraid of false prophets.

    Especially a Mormon.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  16. Uncle Jerry

    He is a self serving ass.. I would like to think of myself as a conservative and we do I go??? Palin,Limbaugh??? We are doomed!!!! What is happening to our country???

    August 29, 2010 at 12:08 am |
    • Emilio

      Sorry about that Uncle Jerry, but your brand of conservatism has expired and has been replaced by an extremist brand which we should give a name to. My guess is that it's a concoction of fascism, covert anti-christianity, and ill-will to the poor, and we should just call it as we see it: it is Nazism. America is on the verge of becoming the Fourth Reich with this bunch of yahoos in the position of leadership. When you're the sole superpower in the world anything could happen if these people get back behind the helm.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:24 am |
  17. Reality

    He is just another Christian/Mormon "propheteer"/profiteer listened to by those still trapped in the bible box!!!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  18. brad

    I love it when the so called intellectuals call Beck stupid, fake, a college drop out. Just because you're smart doesn't mean you have to be a liberal... I've never understood that notion. Seems like there's a lot of jealousy out there against a man that has found a purpose in his life. Of course if you believe in concepts such as evolution I can see why you think your life is meaningless, I mean nothing would matter in the end and you have the right to be cynical about everything. In the end we all worship something to fill a void either it will be a higher power or you're own pleasure or power....

    August 29, 2010 at 12:07 am |
    • a6102658

      His purpose in life is to get richer at your expense,he loves Weak Minded sheep like you.

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

      a6.... Sheep don't protest. These are people saying, let's stop depending on government to solve our problems, and take back our country. It's the sheep that are supporting big government. Sheeple like you.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:17 am |
    • Ronnie

      brad-You are as nuts as Beck!

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

      And what, your purpose is to? don't you get up everyday and go to work or school so that one day you may have a good life style or are you waiting for the government to help you out?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  19. john

    I'm confused. He's a Mormon. Christians don't support Polygamy, Mormons do. So, how can he be both?

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

      Here is another lack of information on the LDS church. Umm Oh I see you are trying to be funny HaHAHa.. Another person that lacks knowledge of facts.. WoW..

      August 29, 2010 at 12:15 am |
    • MadisonMan

      saying mormons support polygamy is like saying that Catholics torture and kill heretics, Baptists burn witches, and Anglicans outlaw and kill Catholics. Mormons gave up polygamy more than a hundred years ago. It is in the past.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:30 am |
    • ROSIE

      YOU ARE RIGHT, MORMANS DO SUPPORT POLYGAMY....STILL. THE RELIGION PERMITS A MORMAN TO MARRY MORE THAN ONE WIFE IN THEIR TEMPLE IN THIS LIFE, FOR ETERNITY. ( AFTER THE DEATH OF THE FIRST WIFE); BELIEVING THEY WILL HAVE BOTH WIVES IN THE HEREAFTER. IN SOME CASES THREE OR MORE IF ONE LIVES
      LONG ENOUGH!

      August 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  20. NoFortunateSon

    Glenn Beck, instead of talking about religion, how about actually doing something charitable to help your fellow man?

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

      Is this the first time you've heard of Glenn Beck? You're statement is about as dumb as saying "I wish Michael Jordan would dunk the basketball sometimes" The question would be better asked of Joe Bidden.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Egbert

      Are you really that stupid?

      Please ask your mother to help you before you make yourself look like such an idiot.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:13 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.