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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. liz

    This is ridiculous. Lets just face it – organized religion is the root of much insane behaviour. Enough is enough. Relligulous, anyone?

    August 28, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
    • Emilio

      Well said.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  2. News1973

    This is America, and everyone has the right to religously express themselves...whether it be Glenn Beck or the Ground Zero Mosque.

    Many of you self-identify as liberals and will defend the mosque at Ground Zero, but then cast insults if Christians talk about their faith. It's hypocritical.

    Personally, I'm an atheist, but just because I don't share Glenn Beck's viewpoints, I'm not going to disparage his religion or those who wish to do something good in the name of it. Grow up a little.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
    • Emilio

      All we're saying is that these self-identified Christians stop forcing their belief system on the rest of us. We who exist in the non-magical world do not want to fear a fire-breathing, jealous, omnipresent, omniscient being, who really doesn't exist, and we don't want such a being represented in our secular world. By all mean have your beliefs, they belong to you and whomever else shares in your delusion, but for peace sakes stop accusing us of being hostile to your religion – we're not, we just want you and your type to stop this constant bombardment of lies.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • Ben

      Or there are those of us that are Christian, and agree that building a Mosque is fine, as is Glen Beck giving a speech, but simply disagree with what he stands for. Disagreeing with a message is far different the the outright denial of a religious freedom.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
    • Jacub

      @News1973

      I've tried pretty hard to respect the religions of others. Pret-ty dam hard. But I refuse to respect lies, liars, murderers, child molesters, robbers, ext0rtionists, fraudsters, con-men, grifters, hate-mongers, fear-mongers, demagogues, sadists, soci0paths, and anyone who protects them from being held accountable under the law of man, God, common sense, and sanity.
      I respect the law, therefore I defend the equal rights of people to build a building that violates no law, and people's rights to whatever belief system that floats their boat.
      But I sc0rn the evil, tw!sted plans being implemented by certain groups of people. If they hide behind a "religion", then I have the right to point out how much I hate them doing so, and to call for an end to the evil they do.
      I don't think you respect my point of view or my right to say it freely. My intent is legal, theirs is not. Simple enough, I would have thought, but illusions that hide the truth can be simple, too. I condemn your lack of discernment in this matter.

      August 29, 2010 at 7:52 am |
    • freewoman

      Both Beck and the Muslims have very strong and focused political agendas.

      Because they keep claiming they do not, is proof they do.

      They are wolves in sheep clothing.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  3. cid

    I can't help but think that this is the way Hitler started...

    August 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
    • Rob in NYC

      Oh yes.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
    • Murphy

      you are stupid. that could be said about so, so many people then, like who i expect you voted for, Mr Obama.

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

      If we were to examine the family tree of Glenn Beck I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that his ancestors were involved in the Hitler Nazi crimes. Corrupt little creepy guy is what I think of whenever I see that mug.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • freewoman

      the resemblance is amazing isn't it. very very scary.

      If Beck can manage to keep up this momentum, he may be our next Hitler.

      Will the Muslims be the new Jews?

      Time will tell...

      August 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  4. drscott

    Sure glad Beck does'nt foam at the mouth like Olberman. keep up the good work Beck !

    August 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  5. USMCsoldier

    Honor needs to be restored in this country? By whom? and WHO appointed this lunatic the person to restore it? I am a US solider and so is my wife. I do NOT feel like my honor needs to be restored, nor do I feel like Beck is the one to restore anyone's honor. The military does a great job a making people feel honorable. Who appointed him to restore honor?

    August 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Some folks are still waiting for Obama to restore our country's honor.

      Heal the sick....
      Give everyone jobs ...
      Bring peace to the world ....
      Walk on water ....

      August 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • Kitty

      Exactly! The implications behind naming the rally "Restoring Honor" are far reaching. By "honoring" the military, are they implying that the military has been "dishonored" in some way? Are they implying that someone in power, perhaps the President, has "dishonored" the nation? Any way you look at it, the rally becomes quite political, and not at all in keeping with their stated goal of an apolitical event.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • Julio

      Dude, seriously? You're a "soldier?" Are you both in the Marines and the Army?

      August 28, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
    • Emilio

      Maybe the creepy Fox News comedian was referring to the dishonor brought on by the presidency of George W. Bush. Simian George, born of privilege, was not fairly elected to the office of POTUS but he stayed there for two terms. Had the votes in Florida been counted then George would probably have turned around and dispose of his then newly acquired 'ranch', bought just prior to the election to give him and air of substance, and ride off into the sunset. That Ohio secretary of state, Blackwell, did as he promised: deliver the state to George W. Bush, by finagling the voting apparatus to ensure that the Democrats could not cast their votes, and some of those that were cast were modified in the electronic apparatus in favor of the simian.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
    • some joe

      god did.......?!

      August 28, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
    • Former Soldier

      You are a liar. You are either a soldier or a Marine. Noone would call themselves both. This country does need it's honor and pride restored. Do not claim the honorable mantle of military service in an effort to discredit conservatives. This country is a representative republic, not a democracy. We have lost our way and if we continue on the path we are on that Progressives are pushing us down, we shall become nothing more than a sad footnote of history like Rome.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • USMCMarine!

      Soldiers are from the ARMY.

      Marines are MARINES.

      You are one big fat liar. To call a Marine a "soldier" is to order a knuckle sandwich, served up with a side of black eyes.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
    • Ryan

      Did any of you idiots ever take a second to think, maybe he's in the Marine Corps and his wife is in the Army, or vice versa....no why think about anything. I'm sure it just makes your tiny little brains hurt ooo-soooo-baaaadd, doesn't it. That's ok, you kids have an hour before bed so go put in your Glenn Beck pacifiers and just hug your wooby and everything will be ok. WAKE UP PEOPLE...quit focusing on the irrelevant (as Beck would have you do) and try and form an intelligent response to the (or any) comment....or just go play with your toys and let the grownups talk.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:43 am |
    • adrian butash

      Hey USMC.I am Corps too. Back off. Don't strut and talk down...straighten up. Stand tall. Respect others.

      Semper Fi

      August 29, 2010 at 3:02 am |
    • adrian butash

      USMC.I am Corps too. Back off. Don't strut and talk down...straighten up. Stand tall. Respect others.

      Semper Fi

      August 29, 2010 at 3:02 am |
  6. amcooper

    who are we? if this guy is seriously making a call out for us to get back to God, then so be it. Anyone can have a change of heart or a divine revelation....I, too, wish we can get back to focusing on God in America. We need to more than ever!!

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

      When did we leave God???
      I guess you think Obama is the " Antichrist" ???

      August 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  7. Ryan

    Role. Blah watching the UFC, can't spell.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  8. ben

    I think most people that are commenting have never heard him speak or watched his show. In his show and books, he has all the references to prove his points. Start watching his show and stop getting your opinion from the "dailyshow" before judging this guy. This was a separate ralley that isnt conventional for him and Im amazed that more people are afraid of christains than radical muslims.

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

      I second that...its amazing how mouthy some people can get and they talk up a storm about something they never even watch or follow. They are puppets of the media. PEOPLE Think for yourselves seriously!!! Just because its on the ews does not make it true or correct. Are you that ignorant! I listen to liberal media all the time, and I take what I can get from it, but really, the liberals keep turning this into a race issue and that isn't there!!! Unfortunately there some extremist that are but that makes a fraction of those that attend the Tea parties, and so far what I have seen is peopling confronting those that are being extremist. Its amazing when conservatives get together, its all about racism and violence, yet history shows more violence come from the left liberals, not he conservatives. Blog away πŸ™‚

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

      Were you to ever watch a show, or read a book, other than becks, you would surely see the error of your ways.

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

      I have watched his show.. dozens of times. He's a hypocrite who is just trying to fire up people to get his ratings higher.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  9. Ryan

    He is whoever he needs to be at a certain time. He plays whichever roll will add to his base and thus his power and bank account.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  10. drscott

    Give em hell Beck we love you guy !

    August 28, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
    • Emilio

      Spoken like a true idiot. What is wrong with the brain you all claim that your god gave you? Perhaps atrophy has set in and the little gray matter within your cranium is shrinking through lack of use.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
    • freewoman

      its called brainwashing ... strip a brain of its natural abilities and replace it with myth madness.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  11. calvin wc

    Or maybe you should ask his first wife he divorced back in 1994 when he was hooked on drugs and alcohol

    August 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  12. Mark from Middle River

    Crankshaw – and many folks hate Sarah palin and GW Bush. I do not know what hate is anymore, it's almost like the overused word "racist" and "bigot". So many folks are used to labeling anyone who disagrees with their point of view, that the labels have become useless.

    Folks are going to dislike Obama and Clinton and folks are going to dislike Beck and Palin. I do not think that any sane human would actually make the leap to real hatred of any of them.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
    • Ryan

      Of course you wouldn't choose to use words like "socialist" and "marxist," now would ya? But hey, most people who sling those words around don't even know what they mean, but we all know what "bigot" and "racist" are, now don't we. I'd even be willing to bet that you've been called one, or both, more than once. Your comments are inane and inarticulate, please either go to school and educate yourself, or just go back into your dark hole and watch the magic box (magic in that the people at Fox News can use it to both instill fear in their viewers, while at the same time convincing them that they (their bosses over at the GOP) can quell those fears. So sad, so sad.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  13. Eric

    Some good things were said.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
    • freewoman

      the same thing can be said for the bible, but I do not believe it either.

      A few flowers blooming in the garbage dump does not make it a great place to live.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  14. Lori

    Do NOT compare Glenn Beck to Billy Graham. Rev. Graham is a kind, loving, true man of God. Glenn Beck likes to hear himself talk and would turn brother against brother if it got him big enough ratings.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You mean get ratings like the guy from CNN who returned a award he got five years ago to a Jewish group? Seems all of them could be labeled opprotunist. So which ones are, just those on the left or just those on the right ?

      August 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
    • freewoman

      Billy is a billionaire.. he can afford to love everyone and their money.
      He also had too much power in the white house for way too long.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  15. rb

    Yea its so horrible raising money for our troops and believing in god. But lets keep killing unborn children and not think twice about that.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
    • Andrew

      I'm for the troops and very liberal minded. I don't believe in any one God.. i'd rather have an overall understanding of all faiths , cultures, ideas, ..etc. I don't disrespect ones religion based upon false assumptions and lazy research. If Glenn wants us to unite he needs to drop the hate towards progressives. I used to listen to Glenn's Radio show for years until recently he's gone mad. It's just like a weak mind to just throw out the abortion issue without considering the complexity of such a debate. pro-choice or pro-life , neither has the answer.. just pathetic rantings and protest against individuals freedoms.. yeah that sounds oddly un-christ to me.

      August 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • Eric Nicolas

      I'm with you!

      August 28, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • totheT

      Really? Who are you to judge what other people do? How about all those pious folks who threaten and, in extreme cases, bomb and kill people who work at clinics. That's very Godly of them.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  16. MarkPA

    Glenn Beck is re-writing KNOWN history to do it. (Lying for self agrandizement, as he is a supposed history expert)
    The founding fathers he ascribes his motivation to loathed and were against the use of Christianity as a foundation for this new nation.
    The wrote about this with regularity, almost to a man:

    β€œReligious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened though...t would have reconciled the Christians so that their [not our?] religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.” George Washington – 1st President of the United States – Founding Father

    "The United States is not in any sen...se founded on the Christian Religion." John Adams – 1792 – 2nd President of the United States and Founding Father.

    "Question with BOLDNESS the existence of God"
    Thomas Jefferson – 3rd President of the United States and Founding Father.

    "Religion and Government will exist with greater purity the less they are mixed together'"
    James Madison – 4th President of the United States and Founding father.

    "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." United States Constitution – Article 6 Section 3

    August 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  17. GodIsForImbeciles

    Never underestimate the passion of the ignorant, the uneducated or the willfully misinformed. Beck knows how to make money, and fleecing a pack of sky fairy worshipers is a lot easier than making a case and proving it. He's just one more snake oil salesman in the digital age, and all he's about is $$$$$$$$$.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  18. DLinz

    instead of name calling Glenn Beck etc. why not prove him wrong on the things he talks about on his show...when he talks about issues on his shows he brings videos, documents etc to back up what he is talking about..and he also tells his viewers not to take what he says as true, he advises all of his viewers to seek the truth/answers themselves...that is how you learn truth. I get tired of hearing..."following GB like sheep, GB next Jim Jones...blah blah blah" when really the ones spewing this type of venom are the ones who have never watched the show and are just going along with the mob...same as alot of people do in this country. sheep......

    August 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  19. Raul G.

    Great, all we needed now was a Western version of the Taliban...

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

      its coming....its the holy war they are all setting the ground work for.
      mosques at ground zero
      Mormons stealing King's day
      Baptists protesting Vet funerals
      Mormon claiming to be the new faith leader – in the American Christian Theocracy
      Catholic churches going broke due to loss of their bad boy priests.
      Gay families kids being rejected from religious schools
      Sharia Law coming to our courts
      Muslim holidays in public schools

      so many gods so little time and money to please them all.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  20. Alittlelate

    So, when Glen Beck establishes his dictatorship, which church will run the country? Will it be the Roman Catholics or the Mormons?

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

      He might go into a grove of trees, have a vision from God & start his own church

      August 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
    • freewoman

      the holy church of Beck.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:58 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.