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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. adam

    Bibles, flags and social tyranny........this is the real "darkness" we are wandering into.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
  2. CC

    These comments are what I expect. Negative as usual from the CNN crowd.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
    • Murphy

      thats what you get when you post on a fanboy cite

      August 28, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
    • Ryan

      The negativity is just a mirror like reflection of the subject matter, as for your comment about CNN specifically, I am willing to bet that you will find a much greater amplitude of articulated and thought out comments (both for and against) on this site, than you ever have a chance of finding in the "Romper Room" like comment sections of Fox News articles.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  3. Kyle

    oh my goodness.....and that is an example of why we are where we are....

    August 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
  4. Emilio

    This guy is as phony as they come. America has too many political and religious opportunists who are mouthing platitudes that assuages emotions of the dull and the ignorant, but in the end it's the money that they hear speaking to them, and that is their god, mammon.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
  5. frootyme

    Calling this joker a Christian conservative is an insult to real conservative moment.
    Beck is simply an extremist of his own views. Sorry, he doesn't represent Christian conservatives.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
  6. LLC

    I agree with the last post, I read these rants and understand completely why I do not watch CNN and do not listen to half of what the left says. This nation needs to move back to the Godly principles of our founding fathers. I am well educated, not an idiot or a sheep following some crazed wanna be messiah. Sorry folks, Beck has it right, if we don't turn back to God, morals, and truth we will fall as Rome did. I believe God has something better in store for all of us, whether we are on the left or right or what our politics is, it does not matter. Our ultimate destiny is in God's hands, eventually we will all see this truth, whether we want to or not. God Bless the United States of America!!!!

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

      Which godly principles are you alluding to? Is it the biblical principle of genocide? Or is it the biblical principle of the enslavement and oppression of an entire race of human beings? Or is it the biblical principle of actively destroying the future of the people in the third world?

      August 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
    • The Deep Toucher

      This is completely ridiculous. Our Founding Fathers were oblivious to "truth" and "morals." To abide by a law stipulating that a human being can be commodified into 1/3 of a person betrays the lie. Every man created equal? The fact that founding fathers raped slaves betrays the lie. This harkening back to Revolutionary Days is a con, a ploy, a straw man. The American culture enacted by our Founding Fathers was morally and ethically repugnant. The fact that all you bat-guano crazy tea party people simply gloss over these facts proves indisputably that you all care little for "truth."

      August 28, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
    • The Deep Toucher

      Furthermore, you are completely backwards on your characterization of the so-called fall of the Roman Empire. Firstly, it's simply absurd to talk about the fall of Rome as function of moral degeneration. The geopolitical and economic complexities of the era simply resist such reductive analysis. However, for the sake of argument, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Rome fell AFTER it converted to "godly" principles.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • Sheain

      Rome fell after AFTER Constantine forcibly converted the empire to christianity.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
    • The Deep Toucher

      Forcibly? Are you serious? How do you think the Saturnalia became Christmas? Constantine sought to alleviate religious tension by means of consolidating holidays. He wanted a peaceable transition. Your comment is just silly.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
    • MadisonMan

      The founders of our nation almost all believed in God, and believed that the founding of our nation was divine destiny. They nearly all believed that our nation, under the Constitution, could not continue to exist unless its people were religious and believed in God. No one disputes any of this who has read any of their writings. They all argued that belief in God should be taught in public schools and religious belief should be encouraged by the government. The "wall between church and state," so often alluded to by atheists who have never read any Jefferson was for the Federal government – Jefferson believed strongly in state governments supporting, encouraging and teaching religious belieft, including in public school. To argue that we do not need God in the public sphere and that we should be a secular nation is in direct contradiction to what the founders believed. So by all means make the argument, but do not claim any support from the founders of our country. I tend to believe they were better educated than any of you, so until I am convinced otherwise I believe they got it right.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
    • freewoman

      Emmil

      I think it is slavery.. That great institution that built Rome.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  7. chedar

    Never know, there maybe enough stupid american that will vote for thsi idiot Beck he will become a candidate running for president. That will be the day/

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

      I would relish seeing a Beck/Palin ticket (or vice versa) going against President Obama in 2012. Nothing more, need be said.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:08 am |
    • freewoman

      would the republicans really be that stupid again to have a dumb and dumber ticket?

      oh my.. they need to get rid of they guy behind the curtain, he is making a laughing stock of America.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  8. Not Surprised

    And this surprises who? When Karl Rove started pandering to the extreme Christian right, he created a monster. He promised them a strong stance on gays, abortion, etc. and the Republicans delivered nothing. Now they are turning to huckster turned "high priest", Glenn Beck. Next stop, a repeat of the inquisition, under the heading of "The Reformation"

    August 28, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
    • Navy wife

      Karl Rove, another mormon with an agenda...... Glenn Beck won't get the nomination but he would love to be Mitt Romney's (another mormon with an agenda)'s running mate. Glenn Beck cries his crocodile tears but we remember how he treated his first wife and children. Sorry Glenn, can't vote for you, you are a man without honor. And speaking as a military family member of 26 years, I can't think of any military folks I know who are waiting for some media type to restore their honor. My husband's worked his butt off for his entire career, been compensated very well, and has respected whomever was the Commander in Chief at the time. Including the current CIC,. I am sick to death of conservatives high-jacking the military as part of their personal agenda. GB is the age of my husband if he is so taken with the military he could have JOINED up instead of partying his way through the 80's and 90's.....

      August 29, 2010 at 1:24 am |
    • Abudu

      Beck will never succeed. When the fact that he is a Mormon attempting to hijack the Christian right plays out he'll be cast aside as an outcast. There is no way the Southern Baptist will accept him as one of them and certainly not in a leadership position. BTW, unless Karl Rove recently changed his faith, he's still an Episcopalian.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  9. wanna2know

    I'm ready. Lets all be sworn in as mor mons together. Get your wives and children, too. Let's go.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  10. Joel H.

    David Koresh? Has that name been mentioned yet? When will these Tea Partiers separate themselves onto a large piece of land and shut themselves off?

    August 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  11. Rob in NYC

    A hypocrite and a fraud. And will appeal to the weak.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  12. Richard Abu Sentaliaganis

    Amen Hussein

    August 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  13. cliff

    "Mormons have additional sacred texts (to the Bible) and a different conception of God."

    This should be mentioned every time Beck brings up the founding fathers. His faith, the Mormon view of God, is very different from anything that could be described as traditional. It is extremely dishonest for him to disparage anyone's beliefs... especially our President as he did earlier in the week.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • Richard Abu Sentaliaganis

      Cliff really loves to watch Beck on Fox.

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

      Um Cliff, you should look up "Deism" as beleived by many of our founding fathers and let us know how that comports with your view of "traditional" beliefs.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
    • Ryan

      It certainly wouldn't portend a belief that this is somehow a Christian nation, as most Christians would have you believe...that is, the matter of the founding fathers being deists. Glenn Beck is trying to, not only jump on, but take the reins of the "Christians should run this country" bandwagon, and that is surely the last thing the founding fathers would have wanted. Nay, I would venture to say that that was one of their biggest fears.

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

      Sean: Don't worry I know the term Deism. What would the founding father's think of the church of latter day saints? That was the point I was trying to make. Do you believe the lost tribes of Israel where to be found in South America? Do true believers receive their own planet to populate with their "harem" of wives? The point is that Beck is exposing a call to morality, and that he speaks in truths, but yet he belongs to what the "founding fathers" would consider a cult. There is hypocrasy there. Your knee jerk reaction came against someone who more than likely agrees with you, so with all respect you are an idiot. I'll leave you with a quote from a founding father, who would call Beck out for being an retard.

      Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

      -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

      August 29, 2010 at 2:13 am |
    • Really?

      Do you really know so little about the Mormon religion? First I don't have a freaking harem, I have ONE wife! Second why don't stop spilling out hate speech when you obviously have no clue what you are talking about. God bless you and keep you.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  14. VA Rocks

    I consider mysekf a die hard, staight and narrow conservative. When I watch Beck, my radar says "crack pot."

    August 28, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • Wayne

      This is great to hear, maybe there is some hope afterall

      August 28, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
    • Ben

      Your not the only one, I may be a liberal, but I do have conservative friends that I respect who hate the likes of the Glen Becsk and Sarah Palins of the world. I know I'm not alone in having no problem with people that disagree with me over economic policy, or even moral issues. It's people out there that our willing to demonize half the country as Un-American simply for sharing a different view of the world that annoy the heck out of me.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
    • Joedoe

      Ben, it's people out there that our willing to demonize half the country as Racist simply for sharing a different view of the world that annoy the heck out of me.
      Open your eyes, the far left is not one ounce more tolerant or less hateful that the far right. Just read these letters. I guess if we just demonize anyone we disagree with – left or right, we don't have to think, we don't have to study, we don't have to be civil and we don't had to discuss and come to a consensus so that we can work together despite our disagreements. We can just say that Palin and Beck are 27 times worse than Hitler, then feel good that they're the "haters", not us. It's pathetic.
      If Beck somehow is able to bring civil discourse back to America, he will have accomplished something great. I don't care i this comes from the left or right, I just home is comes.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:10 am |
  15. simpee

    Glenn Beck has strings tied to Fox News, they in turn are pulling his strings. To me he has no creditability what so ever.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
    • Larry D. Forsythe

      S
      Just out of curiosity,how many genders did you see today?

      August 29, 2010 at 3:21 am |
  16. Kane

    He is a hyper-inflated egomaniac who, besides making a profit off of people's fears and paranoia, has become a prophet of their fears and paranoia. He is the crying, blubbering visage upon the Tea Party Hydra that has become the new face of McCarthyism.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  17. jopus

    He is a guy trying to figure out what he could say on the Mall that wouldn't offend everyone, like his Fox show does, so he decided to talk religion. Safe bet. No one can complain about that. The message is so confusing, no one can figure out if they agree or not.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  18. So Sad

    Anyone else shocked that he would say he wants to bring us all back to Sept 12, 2001?? The very worst moment in American history.. when everyone was scared and in mourning? Really? I guess it's easier to control the masses when everyone is angry and afraid. What's scary is that anyone would want to take "US" all back to that time and mentality! Does this mean he supports what happened the day before? He is in favor or terrorism and murder because it forces the masses to work as one unit without asking questions or demanding answers? What a frightening, frightening state it is that this man is in the media lime light in any way shape or form.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
    • Brett

      You obviously missed the point at what he was saying!

      August 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • s

      Sometimes there are people who don't seem to want to see the clear picture. I have watched and listened to Glenn Beck for several years. He is saying like Rodney King said years ago, "Why can't we all get along?" He is right. We watched today and saw many people of many genders and religions that were doing what we all need to do. Respect and honor those who have given their lives. Respect and honor those who are trying to make a difference. We are a nation of many different backgrounds but I think we all want what is best for our country and our children. I have been around all sorts of different people all my life. I was brought up to respect differences. Perhaps if we could use that principle instead of thinking that we are owed something, we are looked down upon, it really isn't about we, it is about all of us. Lets try to see the best in all people and perhaps many bridges will be built instead of being torn down.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
    • Yvette

      Wow...did you hear anything? We pulled together on 9/11. One nation under God or not. We stood together.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:14 am |
    • Ryan

      No Brett, you have obviously missed the point of "why" he was saying it.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:46 am |
    • Ryan

      And to you S, saying that Beck is trying to bring the country together, is like saying that spousal abuse is a way to mend a broken relationship. WOW...the blinders are going around and they are (appear) free of charge. Oh wait, I see you already have some...good for you. Beck comes out and makes a touchy feely, I love God speech and everyone immediately forgets about all his fear mongering and vitriolic diatribes against anyone he considers to be "on the left." Oh yeah, he's a real saint alright.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:52 am |
  19. Allen, Asheville NC

    WOW! Did you see the size of that crowed? Refreshing.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
    • Kissmineck

      you would be refreshed if you learned to spell " CROWD"

      August 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  20. Hussein Von Maglioni

    why does it hurt some of you so much when the liberal lefties are exposed for what they are. like congressmen feeding at the trough, just like the pigs do.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
    • Emilio

      And you're sucking on the rear end of the pigs sucking at the trough.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
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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.