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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. Doctor Doo Little

    God will use anyone or anything to alert a nation to return to HIMSELF, a message or a call for us to take an immediate
    U-turn to exodus the world system into HIS Kingdom in the Name of our Risen Christ. Don't mock but stop and listen to HIS voice. Beck is a vehicle. If his call is awakening your spirit then go for it. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you, HE will show HIMSELF if you invite HIM to come into your life.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:21 am |
    • Ted Linguini

      How long have you been off your meds?

      August 29, 2010 at 1:24 am |
    • Liberal Conservative

      You sound remarkably like a thoroughly brainwashed nitwit. Congratulations for surrendering your soul to vile and corrupt people who only want to take your money on Sunday. Unfortunately people like you are so malleable, bendable, that you adopt whatever strict "Christian" worldview that is shoved down your gullible throats. Wake up! You are being made a fool of by unscrupulous people!

      August 29, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  2. God

    Hey CNN!!! Christian is misspelled on the very front page as "Christain".

    Analysis: At rally, new Beck emerges"I've been stunned," said the Rev. Richard Land. The Southern Baptist leader is among those surprised by Glenn Beck's recent religious talk. And Saturday, Beck positioned himself as a new Christain conservative leader. FULL STORY

    August 29, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  3. hendrsonNV

    Hold your breathe everyone, Obama is going to give a speech in a few days.... A few words and the world will be ok..... buzzz buzzzz buzzzz as the morning alarm clock goes off....

    August 29, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  4. donna

    Don't allow your hate to miss the point.

    The point is that this movement wishes 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 1:19 am |
    • givehimachance

      Great post

      August 29, 2010 at 1:35 am |
    • Matt in Des Moines

      Brilliant and spot-on post. Donna gets it.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:40 am |
  5. Jasy

    Wow!!! Scary, downright scary!! Lord Help us in America if Glenn Beck truly has political aspirations! I have watched his shows; first on CNN and now on Fox. He spews hatred and racism. Anyone with common sense can see that, regardless of liberal or conservative. Let him and Palin continue whatever Political aspiration they have. It will truly backfire. America may be full of a bunch of Conservative and Racist wackos, but they arent stupid. Prime example is Obama winning the Presidency. So Beck, continue ranting and raving like the madman lunatic you are. You and Palin will make it easy for 2012!!!!

    August 29, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  6. SergioLapel

    Glen Beck will be irrelevant in 5 years. He is hanging on by a thread, pandering to the close-minded, stoking their fears and inflaming their intolerance. By giving this guy so much attention, CNN is betraying the people. Hopefully, they're ripping him apart on air. If not, they're doing this country a disservice by covering this. Glen Beck is a weasel. A snake oil salesman. A fake. Remember that the people who agree with him were HUGE Bush acolytes. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Ashcroft! This is Beck's America. The Imperialist "might-makes-right" power that everyone in the world hates...for good reason! He is a scoundrel.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  7. Ted Linguini

    I liked his first album better. "Loser" was a great tune. This is more of a "concept" album I guess.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  8. Drew

    Get out of your liberal bubble and LISTEN or WATCH Glenn Beck's programs a couple of times. You might be surprised that what you see and hear isn't the same as what CNN, New York Times, Huffington Post, LA Times, Newsweek, CNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR reports. Just give it a try.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  9. Amen

    Sharpton is on CNN right now parading his new stomach-stapling. Beck ain't right, but this guy ain't right niether.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  10. blahblahblah

    If Beck was as insignificant as everyone replying to this article wished, I don't think they would hate him so much...

    August 29, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  11. aranhas

    People are still fighting about whose religion is Christian and whose isn't? Jeez! This is the 21st Century. Do they really believe that a God, a one true God, really thinks one religion is better than another? Stupid people.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  12. graham

    "National leader of Christian Conservatives"? Boy, he is gaaaayyy!

    August 29, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  13. pinkters

    guys newsflash god doesn't exist =O

    August 29, 2010 at 1:13 am |
    • freewoman

      CORRECTION–Gods do not exist..

      Gods are like snow flake no 2 are alike.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
    • freewoman

      CORRECTION–Gods do not exist..

      Gods are like snow flakes no 2 are alike.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  14. shanedawg

    I think he's the guy from the price is right

    August 29, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  15. Ellie

    Yeah, who is this guy and why does anyone care that he's found religion?

    August 29, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  16. Anonamoose

    Founded as a Christian nation rhetoric is getting old. So slavery is a Christian value? Well, it was not only promoted by the Chrsitians, their Bible demands that slaves accept their condition and work happily. Christians "believe" in the condition of slavery as supported by both God and Jesus because it is celevrated in the New Testament. The United States Constitution was very clear about blacks being only 3/5ths of a person, and then only as property of their owners. Until the LIBERAL YANKEES ELITE fought a war and died by the thousands to free them, good coservative Christian southerners would have been happy to put them back in the chains and back in the fields. Y'all.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  17. 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. Some of you know what I mean.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  18. hendrsonNV

    wow, all these angry responses and name calling. Nothing of substance. It is so great to see that the far left has nothing but juvenile crying. He did it all to make money??? You fools!!!!! He raised over 5.5 million so far just by this event alone for the children of wounded and killed American soldiers. Stay in your basements and keep blogging your stench but when you EVER know what it feels like to donate to a good cause write about it (or have your own event). However you must have a paying job to donate non-government funds to the charity of choice. Beck stands for FAITH HOPE AND CHARITY. If you have or have given any of these then I applaude you. If you have none, then I am glad Beck can make a living helping others. Is Al Sharpton making money this weekend?? Do the left heros like Soros, Kerry, and Gore have millions???

    August 29, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  19. Marunchak

    Enough with the religion already! I for one don't want any more Bible believing dopes in the White House who get their foreign policy guidance from "Divine Providence". It's a bad idea for religious zealots to be in power in Iran, and it's a bad idea for religious zealots to be in the White House. At least with an atheist or an agnostic in the White House we'd have stem cell research going on. It really, really offends me that stem cells offer the potential for people with spinal injuries to walk again, yet we're unable to pursue that outcome because stem cell research offends the religious sensibilities of some idiot who happens to be in power.

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

      Life is a hell of a lot more complicated than stem cell research. Stalin, HItler, Tojo and a whole raft of historic figures and societies were atheists. Without some religious regard for human life, there is no reason to keep you alive. On the other hand, nut case religious zealots have also killed millions in the name of their god. I don't think it matters much what the religious beliefs are if a leader is a screwball. Rather than whine about religion or the lack of it, whine about leadership or the lack of it. Obama would be a loser if he was a religious nut or an atheist.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  20. John P

    I know there's a lot of Beck haters here. But, after 40 page fulls of comments, could just one of you tell me some specific quotes from Beck that are the cause of your anger? BTW...I have a green card, so I cannot vote. I sort of like it this way. It keeps me in the true center. But I just cannot understand how you on the left made 8 years of Bush jokes (some deserved), but now cannot take the heat for Obama, who's Administration has just become a disaster. Again, specifics please. Name calling and generalizations won't win anyone over to your cause.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:10 am |
    • Tim Doogan

      This is from the politifact.com website:

      He's earned more False ratings than any other.

      He's earned them for his claim that union president Andy Stern was the most frequent White House visitor; that less than 10 percent of Obama's cabinet has private sector experience; that Mitt Romney's health care plan was bankrupting the state of Massachusetts; that 45 percent of doctors said they would quit if health care reform passes; and that the United States is the only nation with birthright citizenship.

      We define Pants on Fire as a statement that is ridiculously false. Beck earned one for his claim that John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, "has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population."

      Beck also earned a Pants on Fire for his claim that the health care reform bill provided health insurance for dogs.

      Today, Beck earned his third for comments he made about the Restoring Honor rally. He claimed that the government was trying to close the Lincoln Memorial for similar rallies in the future, implying that the government was trying to silence his political speech. We found no evidence to support that. Pants on Fire.

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2010/aug/27/glenn-beck-faces-truth-o-meter/

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

      OK. Here's Beck in action:
      “No matter how much the healthcare system would try to keep me down, I’m back!”
      “We seem to be a society or a system now in healthcare that is just trying to shove the patients out that door as fast as they can.”
      “Getting well in this country could actually almost kill you.”
      “We have forgotten that the secret to health care is contained right there in the word itself – ‘care’”

      then:
      “America already has the best healthcare in the world. We do take care of our sick”.
      - Glenn Beck, 06/04/09
      “You are about to lose the best healthcare system in the world”.
      - Glenn Beck, 05/12/09
      “What does it mean for the rest of the world if we lose our position as the innovator as having the best healthcare in the world”?
      - Glenn Beck, 04/29/09

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

      I don't follow Beck, but I think I might after reading these comments. Never heard of politifact or pants on fire, but someone once said, "believe none of what you read and half of what you see". Seems like good advice to people who trust blogs and websites for their information. It might be better to actually watch and listen to the guy than to depend upon biased blogs.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:23 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.