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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. Saint Ringo

    would you let him baby sit your kids?

    August 29, 2010 at 1:02 am |
    • A-religious

      Are you kidding!?

      I won't even let my kid see him on TV. Fox is a blocked channel in my house.

      Darth Vader is a better role model!

      August 29, 2010 at 1:05 am |
    • Mark Kalafatas

      @A-religious: "Darth Vader is a better role model." Love that!

      August 29, 2010 at 1:10 am |
    • JDoe

      FORTUNATELY, WE DON'T HAVE TO BLOCK MSNBC AT OUR HOUSE...OUR CABLE COMPANY DROPPED IT DUE TO LOW

      RATINGS

      MY GUESS IS THAT CNN WILL BE THE NEXT TO GO DOWN THE DRAIN.. ..ONLY A MATTER OF TIME

      August 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
    • freewoman

      no he might eat them , then blame god teelling him to do by tossing a bag of sand on his head.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  2. Jeff

    They know very little about god, nothing about people and a whole lot about being angry...and partial... and racist.... and so on....

    August 29, 2010 at 1:01 am |
    • donna

      Jeff, don't let your prejudice interfere with receiving the message.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  3. Gop

    Don't hurt your head trying, you're too ignorant to know who he is.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  4. Jeff

    Ive got an idea Beck, you and them sell everything you own and follow Jesus... Bet you wont and get you cant.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • freewoman

      the only thing that sells better than s e x is god.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  5. Liberal Conservative

    Drug addict. Underachiever (never completed a college degree of any sort). Sensationalist. Fascist. Aryan. Idiot. And unfortunately a mirror reflection of a large part of middle America. How on Earth do his simpleton supporters overlook his fatal flaws? Silly me! I forgot! It's because they are all idiots who are lacking in education and common sense too!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:59 am |
    • WouterWolf

      College means your smart or just happen to have more money to afford it? maybe mommy and daddy paid your way or better yet yours was paid by the tax payers.. gee do you know how many products that you use each day where made by or invented by of a person that had no college? Don't go to Disney by God, Walt didn't have a college education, WoW please don't put on those blue jeans, becuase a black man with no college invented the machine to pick cotton. Damn don't ride a train as the oilers where invented by a guy that only had a fourth grade education becuase those steel wheels might come flying off. Thats the problem with most of you people, you think becuase you got a flipping college education that those that didn't don't know stuff. I'm sure with all your time spent in the college class room made you a very smart person that has nothing better to do than sit infront of a keyboard and monitor typing out grap that you can't understand due to the fact your brain is fried from all the pot and beer you suck down while you beleave you or think you are some Liberal and no best.. You don't know crap if in fact you know anything at all other that the cheap ass pot your smoking and the five bucks you have in your wallet while your living in you mother's and father's home. I bet you don't even pay them rent and your pops is still woundering why can't this kid move the hell out my house. Damn you flip maroon's..

      August 29, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  6. Jacqui H

    I love the pic that was posted for this article lol, got him flapping his double chin.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  7. nil

    Beck is an opportunist!!!!!

    He is also a Racist!!!!!!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:59 am |
    • JDoe

      RACE CARD THROWN DOWN.....CLEAN UP ON AISLE 6

      LMAO !

      August 29, 2010 at 1:10 am |
    • freewoman

      If Beck had pul;ed this stunt in the 70s, there would be a riot of all riots in DC.

      The blacks did good.. showed dignity in the face of a complete insult by an A whole.

      I am proud of them.. thank you for not kicking his b u t t .. your right, he is not worth the effort.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
  8. WouterWolf

    If you look into the history of the LDS Church you find amazing stories of thier history and the hardships that many had becuase they believe in GOD, Jesus Christ, and the Holy sprit, as well as the possibility that Christ walk among those in the America's. After all why couldn't he do what he wanted? he was Christ son of GOD. But like so many of you lack knowledge of the facts, both of Glenn Beck and that of the LDS church, your argument has no merrit or substance. Well seem only a few here get what Glen Beck is attempting to due and the rest are just being hateful, so on that note my eye's are killing me from the clare. Good luck to you all God Bless you and our Military men and women.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  9. I GIVE MY REAL NAME: JOSHUA

    It is sad to see all these so called "intelligent" kids posting here on a topic that they nor thier parents have ever known.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:59 am |
    • Theophilus

      What you talkin' 'bout Josh?

      August 29, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  10. Laila Leah

    Glenn Beck is NOT A CHRISTIAN. He is a FALSE PROPHET at best and will reap what he is sowing. God speaks of people like Beck that invoke his name as they seek and do evil. God says, "I Never Knew You" Glenn Beck. God is all about Love, not hate and separation by color.

    Being a Christian IS NOT synonymous with CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN. Real Christians only affiliate themselves with GOD, not political parties.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:59 am |
    • freewoman

      I bet it was that bag of sand on the head that gave it away,

      Wonder where he go that from anyway?

      Who gets ideas via bags of sand?

      I would have preferred bags of money. Bills that do not say "in god we trust' I want mine to say "in our government we trust"... never happen.. but its a thought.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
  11. Mark Kalafatas

    "By their fruits shall you know them." – Matthew 7:16. What we are witnessing is the normal progression of a dying political movement. Throughout history, when political movements have become marginalized, they have also become more radical. The country is changing. Beck may represent what America *was* but he certainly doesn't represent what America *is*. As long as the Republicans trumpet the Becks, Bushes, Palins, et al., and as long they preach "divide and conquer" they will always finish second to the "brotherly love" message of the Democrats. What the Republicans need is a new message that gives no account whatever to the hateful rhetoric of the Christian right.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  12. Dianne

    Maria Kevers, please let me help you.

    Ignorent is spelled ignorant. "Liberal get your head..." should be "Liberals get your heads..." Blame is a word, blaim is not. Onfortunately is not a word, unfortunately is. O is really Oh. Congress is capitalized. "In charge" is actually two words. A deficit is not a defiset. Leftesis – no such word. "You own more than you think." What on earth are you trying to say?

    Perhaps less ranting and raving and more education will allow you to realize that Beck and Palin, and their followers, are buffoons. You might even join the part of the world that can actually think!.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  13. Observer

    You've got to give Beck credit. He'll say "here's what I don't know" and then prove it.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  14. Shawn

    Isn't he the guy going blind from putting Vick's Vaporub under his eyes to make himself cry on TV?

    August 29, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  15. Jim

    some type of Opium

    August 29, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  16. NancyLV

    You people that say things about the mormon religion don't know a thing about the religion again you only believe in hearsay. How many of you have really investigated the church? If you have then you would kknow that none of what is being said is true.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:58 am |
    • GoodAtheist

      NancyLV, I read that Mormonism was founded by a person (John Smith) who was, prior to his life as a prophet, accused, in court, of being a charlatan and a scheister. I read that Mr. Smith claimed to find gold tablets in the ground that were of divine origin, and that only he could read. (How convenient). Mormonism sounds even more retarded than the run of the mill religion.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:05 am |
    • freewoman

      all religions are jokes.. with deadly punch lines...

      August 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  17. GoodAtheist

    Is it not possible to talk about American politics without mixing-in religion? It is such a shame that mysticism still hobbles our great nation.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:57 am |
    • JDoe

      IS IT NOT POSSIBLE FOR AN ATHESIT TO MAKE A COMMENT WITHOUT DEGARDING AND INSULTING PEOPLE

      BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ?

      CAN ATHEIST EVER SHOW KINDESS FOR PEOPLE WHO HOLD DIFFERENT BELIEFS THAN THEIRS....OR IS IT A RULE THAT

      THEY MUST BE SO HATEFUL AND ANGRY ALL THE TIME....I WOULD JUST ONCE LIKE TO MEET A KIND, JOYFUL,

      AHTEIST....JUST ONE TIME

      August 29, 2010 at 1:08 am |
    • Ted Linguini

      @ JDoe....you are hilarious. So incapable of responding. Can politics exist and be discussed without religion being interjected? The answer is "no". Supersticious morons like yourself will ensure that.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:22 am |
    • freewoman

      Atheists do not hate the mythics.. we think they are funny minded.

      Your myth belief is usually set by geography. If a;; you christians were born in Irmn.. you would be Muslims.

      If an atheist was born there we would be dead. .

      August 29, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • freewoman

      proof reader failure..

      If all you charistians were born in Iran you would be Muslims.

      If an Atheist was born there, they would be killed.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  18. Jesus has no political affiliation

    "Satan's mentally challenged younger brother." –Stephen King, writing in "Entertainment Weekly"

    "Finally, a guy who says what people who aren't thinking are thinking." –Jon Stewart, on the "The Daily Show"

    "Even the leather-winged shouting heads at Fox News look like intellectual giants next to this bleating, benighted Cassandra. It's like someone found a manic, doom-prophesying hobo in a sandwich board, shaved him, shot him full of Zoloft and gave him a show." - Buffalo Beast, naming Beck in its annual list of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America

    August 29, 2010 at 12:57 am |
  19. miker

    Obama is asleep at the wheel and we are heading for the ditch! If obama ever wants to win again he should dump Biden and get Beck on the ticket!

    August 29, 2010 at 12:57 am |
    • givehimachance

      You know you may be on to something with that idea..........................................

      August 29, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  20. nil

    Beck is withdrawing from alcohol today. As you can see he is a bit delusional.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:55 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.