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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. J

    Glenn Beck is an emotionally unstable opportunist who knows how to create static and further his aspirations. Suddenly he is being billed suggestively as an emerging religious leader? He certainly knows how to succeed at keeping himself relevant (I hate to sound cynical, but his partner in this was Sarah Palin, who certainly knows how to keep herself in the spotlight) and considering how effectively he pulled it off to be able to have the media redefine him so quickly demonstrates both Beck's skill as a manipulator and the media's eagerness to create a buzz over unsubstantiated issues to keep people watching. This is all very sad.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:35 am |
  2. BPatrick

    ...so this is The False Prophet." Interesting...

    August 29, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  3. JOSH

    I love Glenn Beck! he speaks the truth! There's a lot of haters out there. Dang!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:34 am |
    • dena

      Dang?? Really is that a word? I just have to know how many teeth are you missing??

      August 29, 2010 at 12:41 am |
  4. Steve

    Over 300,000 people were impressed yet a few spout non-sense here on this opinion page. These are such nay-sayers. But I find it interesting that Fox attracts a conservative crowd, and you'll find conservative agreeable comments at their website, in contrast to CNN's liberal slant and these comments above on this page. Yet look at the viewership of CNN vs. Fox. The overwhelming majority of people watch FOX and shun once popular CNN. Talk about being marginalized. How about being informed instead of just opinionated?

    August 29, 2010 at 12:34 am |
    • Observer

      The reality is that FOX has NO ONE to compete with when it comes to slanting news to the right.

      CNN has to compete with ABC, CBS, NBC, and MSNBC, not to mention most of the leading newspapers. Add them together and tell us how FOX is doing.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:37 am |
    • JOSH

      You anti-beck/anti-religious/anti conservative people are ridiculous....you know nothing about Beck because you cant see anything through all your hate. Anyone who is conservative, your view with hate. Add in the fact that your boy Obama is falling flat on his face just drives you all to more anger and hate. Give it a rest for once. The problem in this country is progressives and their agenda of bringing down the USA and what made us great...... I wont bother to list those since you all are too ignorant to understand anyway.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:39 am |
    • Reality

      More information in the 21st century:

      Mormonism- A business/religious cult based on Joseph Smith's (and G. Beck's) hallucinations which has bought respectability with a $30 billion business empire, the BYU "mission matured" football team and a great choir.

      Then there is this:

      1. There was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no bases.

      2. There was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      3. There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      4. There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completelys fails as a religion.

      5. There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      6. Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      7. Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everwhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:42 am |
    • Observer

      Conservatives really shouldn't pick on Obama while his approval rating is TWICE what Bush's was and he isn't REMOTELY close to the record 70% DISAPPROVAL rating that Bush ended up with.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:42 am |
    • LMD

      What you do not see on CNN is diversity in opinions, They all say the same thing,follow the same rhetoric and write the same lines,,I Agree,I Agree...The other outlets,as seen here,as you have come also.have a varied range of opinions. Have you ever tried to post an opposing opinion on FOX,I have and it has never made it through.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:42 am |
    • NoFortunateSon

      Steve, the AP is reporting that the crowd size was 87,000. Which is still a lot.

      While Fox draws more primteime viewers than CNN, the CNN web site draws far more viewers than Fox.

      Feel free to search these topics as you wish, but reality will provide you with little solace here.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:51 am |
    • Elaine

      Of course fox has great ratings. They make up stories and this sort of rally. If they stuck with the truth, who would watch?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:52 am |
  5. LMD

    Is there a poll or headcount somewhere that says ALL liberals are on the dole? That all Liberals are non working shiftless lazy bums? Seems to be a major cry from the GB clan. If you are going to toss that out,please use facts and figures to show it. And where does it state that ALL liberals are GODLESS or lack education? Or do not have honor? Or send their children off to war? Please,as a matter of courtesy post these"facts" so that we may all then know them. Facts are hard to refute (unless like GB,he does not fact check)..

    August 29, 2010 at 12:33 am |
    • Peter

      LOL I've never met a conservative that believes this. You made me laugh though and I thank you for that.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:50 am |
  6. lnagol

    You guys are a bitter, jaded bunch! So a guy turned his life around, and made a living being funny, and now making people think about their history, and perhaps their faith. Gollee gee, what a terible guy. This isn't hard guys. You are over thinking it, which is why you dont make millions giving people a sense of hope. I don't see a downside here.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:33 am |
    • Elaine

      Over comming alcoholishm .. impressive.
      Making up lies to win ratings and $$$ ... NOT.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:54 am |
  7. mypitts2

    Beck is obviously a shyster. But if his contribution to national discourse is to tell people to pray and be nice to their families, I'll take that over his race-baiting.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  8. Diane

    The ANTI-CHRIST has spoken....

    August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  9. Anonymous

    1950 called, they want their dress sense and ideology back.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  10. Reality

    GB is just another Christian/Mormon "propheteer"/profiteer.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  11. Observer

    Vote Palin 2012 – 2014 1/2

    August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  12. opinionguru

    Why is Mormonism a non-Christian religion?
    Mormonism teaches that God is only one of countless gods, that he used to be a man on another planet, that he became a god by following the laws and ordinances of that god on that world, and that he brought one of his wives to this world with whom he produces spirit children who then inhabit human bodies at birth. The first spirit child to be born was Jesus. Second was Satan, and then we all followed
    Mormonism teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross itself (and receiving it by faith) is not sufficient to bring forgiveness of sins. It teaches that the forgiveness of sins is obtained though a cooperative effort with God; that is, we must be good and follow the laws and ordinances of the Mormon church in order to obtain forgiveness.
    It is not Christian because it denies that there is only one God, denies the true Gospel, adds works to salvation, denies that Jesus is the uncreated creator, distorts the biblical teaching of the atonement, and undermines the authority and reliability of the Bible.
    Pray for the misled
    QED

    August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
    • Reality

      The real Mormonism:

      A business/religious cult based on Joseph Smith's hallucinations which has bought respectability with a $30 billion business empire, the BYU "mission matured" football team and a great choir.

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

      HAHAHAHAHA You have no knowledge what so ever about the LDS church. HAHAHAAHA your a lammer.. Neither you nor the person above this post have any clue aout the LDS church.. HAHAHAHA freakin maroons you both are.. Maybe you should got to UT or BYU and study the what the church is and what it has done for your country (U.S.A.). Maybe you should read a tad bit more bofore you put yourself out there looking like a ASS..

      August 29, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • Reality

      Any sightings of Mor-oni yet ? He has no wings so travel is slow for this "pretty, fictional thingie". But you can hear his horn for miles and miles so Be Ready!!!

      Tis the great angelic con game. Joe Smith was the latest to pull it off with his "angelic" Moro-ni. The significant stupidity and gullibility of it all!!!!!

      "Some scholars have theorized that Smith became familiar with the name "Mor-oni" through his study of the treasure-hunting stories of Captain William Kidd.[2] Because Kidd was said to have buried treasure in the Comoros islands, and Mor–oni is the name of the capital city and largest settlement in the Comoros, it has been suggested that Smith borrowed the name of the settlement and applied it to the angel who led him to buried treasure—the golden plates. Complementing this proposal is the theory that Smith borrowed the names of the Comoros islands and applied them to hill where he found the golden plates, which he named Cu-morah.[3]

      August 29, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  13. Anton Yost

    Two words for Beck ( Delusional Moron)

    August 29, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  14. Piper

    BECK=[Fascism is] a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal ideology to generate a populist mass movement through a liturgical style of politics and a programme of radical policies which promised to overcome a threat posed by international socialism. A fascist movement is dictated by the most wealthy classes and organizations in a specific nation which conditions its ideology, propaganda, style of politics and actions is the vision of the nation's imminent meaning and cause.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  15. dena

    Fantastic! Just what America needed another religious fanatic. Sadly, the ignorant are allowing themselves to be manipulated by his words. Beck the American OBL

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

      JC WAS A FANATIC AND A RADICAL REBEL

      August 29, 2010 at 12:32 am |
    • dena

      Think people ...use that organ in your skull. you know the on it is called the brain.
      ..yeesh

      August 29, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  16. lacifaeria

    @Michael Deitsch I'm going to show you why what you said was racist. You can deny it, but I'm going to point out why.

    "I might add that it is sad to see the Black Community turn this into a racial issue to gain publicity. This is about America, black and white. I hope those that try to keep racism alive for their own glory and profit will realize that they are hurting rather than helping their own cause."

    Glenn Beck has dropped the gauntlet several times on race baiting, including the now famous statement that he believes our biracial president has a "deep seated hatred for white people." Are you one of the few who believes that Obama hates half of his own lineage or are you willing to admit that G. Beck engages in some clear race baiting. Nevermind the idea that Glenn Beck said that health care reform was "reparations for slavery," which is hilarious if you consider that poor white people would be helped by this and that it would require you to be ill in order to collect on a reparations check.

    "When 85% of black blindly follow Obama, it is clear to me that for many the only thing that matters is color."

    I bet that you're one of the post-racial individuals who would be angry at someone saying that if you were against Obama or pro-McCain, that you were being racist. Here's why you just proved that you were. Blacks have OVERWHELMINGLY supported the Democratic party, esp after the Dixiecrats left and moved over to the Republican party. However, if a half-black man was up for office, according to your racist rhetoric, there could be NO OTHER REASON why so many supported him EXCEPT for the half-black part. So which is it? Either 85% of blacks voted for him because he was half-black AND white people who voted for McCain or just against Obama were doing it JUST BECAUSE he was half-black, or you actually entertain the possibility that 1. black people are individuals and have individual reasons for supporting Obama and 2. whether he was Obama or Clinton, 85% of black people would have supported a DEMOCRAT president? Let's see how racist you aren't by which line you agree with...

    "So who is really promoting racism in the USA. Most white folks got over this a long time ago."

    And that's probably because white people haven't had any real loss to their privilege. Let's look at it. Are police unfairly profiling white americans? Are white americans with college degrees experiencing the same rate of unemployment as their non-white counterparts? Are white americans still the ones mostly in control of media and business and educational institutions? When white americans actually do get arrested, prosecuted and sentenced; are their periods of incarceration equal to hispanics and blacks, even over a similar substance (crack v cocaine sentencing disparity had it so that 5 grams of crack was equal to 500 grams of cocaine)? When white people enter the workplace, are they told that their natural hair was political and it had to be chemically altered in order to be acceptable? Do white americans receive the same level of healthcare as non-white americans do? So when you wonder how it is that white americans have been able to "get over it", make sure you acknowledge that white americans have always and still have it remarkably good in comparison to non-whites. I'm pretty sure that has something to do with the ability of white americans to get over it.

    "It's the black leaders that what to keep this division going for their own gain. It's sad because we expected more from a black President."

    So you blame a biracial president for racist people being unable to deal with having a biracial man in charge? It's his fault because he's what....not white? Should he invent the time machine to go back to his mom, tell her to make sure she's taking a picture as he pops out her uterus and, oh yeah, make sure the father of her children is white so people can be sure that it's not because he's half-anything else that they hate him?

    It's the black leaders? Wrong. What a major problem is is so many people in absolute denial about what racism actually is and hoping that by giving black americans a lil biracial cookie in Obama, that it totally trumps all housing, employment, penal, and educational discrimination that STILL continues-which is hilarious in and of itself. Do you know why? Because just by having the idea "We allowed you blacks to have Obama so STFU" you demonstrate just how superior you think you are and the level of privilege you've accepted. Taking the stance that you've given us equality means that we never had it. And by choosing to look at the President as an equality token, you imply that it's something we don't deserve.

    So much for your relinquished racism.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  17. Kohaniem

    REPENT SINNERS!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  18. NoFortunateSon

    The size of the crowd has now been estimated at 87,000, which is a lot of people. Smaller than a Big 10 football game but bigger than a MLB game. I don't know why people are pretending there was like half a million when you clearly can't see that many people in the aerial photos. It sort of makes them look foolish, like they wanted this to be a bigger event than it was.

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

      So the million bozo gathering was a mere 87K? With the so-called "vast grass root movement", and it's advanced publicity, could only turn out 87 thousand hicks? The only movement these people have are bowel movements, and thank whomever that the American people do see through these carnival barkers for what they are.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:38 am |
    • Peter

      Your comment is the funniest thing I've heard all day. Thanks for the laugh. We know as fact that the area surrounding the reflection pool holds over 200,000 people. Surrounding the pool are trees and then lawn. Those areas are over twice the width on both sides and were nearly completely full except for small spots. When you look at the trees, people crowded tightly under that area. We couldn't even get close enough to hear or see the screens.

      The line to the metro yesterday was over 1/4 mile long, several people wide and took 3 hours to get onto the metro. That was only one of over 80 metro stops. You do the math.

      But tell yourself that there were less than 100,000 if you like, it doesn't change the facts. 65 days till election day. I hope you will also vote and use your freedoms.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • NoFortunateSon

      Peter, that's what the AP is reporting. Do a search. But if you look at the aerial photos, it's clear that the area was not packed to capacity.

      And what does the 2010 midterm election have to do with this rally? Beck said there was nothing political about this rally, and I heard nothing political in his speech

      August 29, 2010 at 12:49 am |
  19. Monte

    I have listened to hima few times. He has an interesting point of view. He drills down and connects a lot of dots. He certainly seems to have a lot of people here scared to death. He's just a media personallity. The devil? Antichrist? Are you people nuts? I have heard and seen a lot more dangerous people in positions of much greater power than Glen Beck. Get your tails out from between your legs and focus on where the real darkness is. It surely is not Glen Beck. The name calling is a bit childish.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  20. Reality

    More:

    Analyses of Jesus’ life by many co-ntem-porary NT scholars have con-cluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embe–llishments (e.g. miracles) added by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pa-gan se-cts.

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

      THE NT IS BLASPHEMY

      August 29, 2010 at 12:31 am |
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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.