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. Mark from Middle River

    "The very worst moment in American history.. when everyone was scared and in mourning? Really? "

    actually sosad, I did not hear his speach but I do not know how you veiwed the days after 9/11 and I can respect if you felt scared and mourning. The mourning I did not really feel and the scared no never. I saw my fellow Americans really step up and step up big time. One thing 9/11 did was bring us together. Some reported a video of people running when the first tower came down. It was not white or black or Christian, Muslim or whatever. It was us, all of us. When the ems and police came to ground zero again it was us, all of us.

    I can respect if you felt as such but maybe it is the fact that "scared" and in constant tearful " mourning" is exactly and all that the terrorist wanted us to feel andfor myself I would not give them that victory.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  2. Carson

    "Christo Nazis!!!!!! Nothing more needs to be said. Let them take over and kiss every freedom you have goodbye!" Are you insane? Have you not realized how many freedoms the crazy liberals are stealing from you every minute?

    August 28, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
    • gk

      Name three.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  3. fkldjk

    Beck is an opportunistic Republican who is going to BS his was into some political position by placating the religious right.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  4. mikeh

    at least none of you idiots can be accused of putting your lame reputations out there for people to criticize. are any of you actually capable of thinking for yourselves? white,christian, must be bad. who do you think will lead you from your hell. huffington? soros? john stewart, cause hes clever. obama? save your selves you morons. thats becks point.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  5. zbd

    Beck is a royal insane jerk.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  6. abby

    Who is Beck? well, he's a Mormon, a reformed drunk, a self-proclaimed leader BUT I tell you who he reminds me of - another fellow who claimed he know what was causing his country's problems and that he knew how the nation could "solve" its problems - he too blamed the current government of his time, blamed "outsiders" and non-Christians, etc. for his country's problems - he used a bad economy to his own benefit - he too used the media of his era (the radio), held rallies, wrote a book - all outlining that he knew what was wrong with his nation and how he knew how to fix it - everyone just had to follow him -

    and they did -

    and 12 years later Germany was in ruins and over 6 million Jews were dead -

    August 28, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
    • MadisonMan

      Hitler as an atheist would not have tried to encourage his minions to believe in God. I love these people using atheists to try to slam religious believers, when the atheists are the ones killing millions of people (Khmer Rouge, Hitler, Stalin).

      August 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Ryan

      Madison, who told you that Hitler was an Atheist? No, really, I would love to know, because it would only take you is five minutes to learn the truth. If you would only look for it, and not think that it will be placed oh-so lovingly in your lap by the shiny faces on Fox News, you might actually find it.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:06 am |
    • David in Texas

      Ryan, I believe you are correct about Hitler's religion. As far as I remember, Hitler was a roman Catholic. He was baptized in Austria. He was even an alter boy and later confirmed by his church as the 'soldier of Christ'. Even in his book "Mein Kempf" he said that he is doing Lord's work by fighting off Jews. Where do people come of saying he was Atheist?

      August 29, 2010 at 2:42 am |
    • Josh

      ABBY....you have got to be as DUMB as the day is long....DO EVERYONE A FAVOR...WHEN YOU GET YOUR GOVERNMENT CHECK....GO SIGN UP FOR SOME HISTORY CLASSES....BECAUSE YOU BELEIVE WHAT YOU HEAR...NOT WHAT HAS HAPPEND IN HISTORY!!!!! idiots like you is why I suppport the morning after pill

      August 29, 2010 at 6:26 am |
    • freewoman

      Hitler was a catholic. he was also very superstitious. goes with his psyco mind. He was also a Jew his mother had Jewish heritage. He used the Jews as the early christians did as scape goats to rally the troops to create a empire of hate. He needed the Jews to blame like all dictators need an enemy.
      Militant preachers like Beck need enemies too. so they create them, they are called, fake christians, Atheists, etc. it is the same old formula used time and time again. Just like the Romans did the Jews.
      Will we ever stop being tricked by this same old mythic madness control trick.
      When the Age of Stupidity ends and we leave the supernatural behind in the graves of the fools.

      August 29, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  7. Jay

    Let me be clear. I'm a conservative, and I'm a Christian, and Glenn Beck is not my leader. He's a decent guy, shares a higher percentage of good information than Rush Limbaugh (who doesn't?), and he's reasonably intelligent. Still, some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth is either improperly researched, or simply wrong. Interesting guy to listen to for about ten minutes a week, but not the leader of the Christian Right.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
    • Susan

      Jay, seriously, Glenn Beck doesn't want to be your leader, or your pastor, or convince you to change your faith. He only asked everyone from every faith to turn towards God and be a better father, better wife and to love your children. He isn't building any mega church to himself. He just gave an amazing speech as a proud American. Don't read to much into it, like he is trying to form a following, he isn't interested in having you follow him, but he asks you, Jay to follow your God. Did you hear his speech. Check it out on CSPAN. He is a proud American and he is a very decent person and he loves his country and family and fellow man. Please don't make like he is up to something horrible, or trying to turn you away from your faith. Keep your faith, but turn to your God and be a better friend, husband, neighbor and father and be a better American. Just because he has a deep faith in God and shares it, that shouldn't scare you. I rather listen to a man like that, then a man that tells you to embrace all that is evil in America, and tells you to be devivise and to be a bigot to your fellow man.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • David in Texas

      Susan, with all due respect, stop shoving your God down peoples throat. I respect you for being a devoted Christian, and I have absolutely no problem with it as long as you keep it to yourself. However, you have no right to tell the entire country to become religious and follow your God because you like it that way. Stop mixing religion and politics. There are millions of people in this country who are secular and millions who follow other religions, why should everyone all of a sudden become a nation of your God? It seems to me that you have absolutely no respect for the others, and the only thing you respect are your own values. Seriously what is the difference between you and the Islamic fundamentalists in a country like Iran who shove their extreme ideology down peoples throat? Read the constitution again and again till you get it, others don't think like you and they don't believe in the same ideology as you do, and this is perfectly OK, you need to learn how to respect that which you clearly don't. You are choosing Glen Beck and Sarah Palin not based on whether they are fit to lead this nation politically, but because of religious reasons and this is absurd.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:23 am |
  8. Kyle


    August 28, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
    • Elaine

      Fox has high ratings because they are great story tellers. They make stuff up and that brings in the viewers. Very entertaining. Unfortunately idiots like you believe all the nonsense.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:27 am |
    • Kyle

      RIGHHHTTTTT Elaine....righhtttt....come to Tennessee and I will donate my time to help with your frontal labotomy (free of charge since medicare/medicaid wont pay what they already owe me)...or wait....its already been completed.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:54 am |
    • Ryan

      Really Kyle, that is your response. Well, you're not perpetuating the ignorant redneck stereotype at all, now are ya.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:01 am |
    • Josh

      Hey Doc, i got your back, looks like that Ryan guy needs to come to your cliniic...his S.T.D. must have went to his brain.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:23 am |
    • Kyle

      looks that way doesnt it. OR he is a drunkard...look at his spelling.

      August 29, 2010 at 2:29 am |
    • Ryan

      My spelling is fine (as you can look up for yourself), your illiteracy however, is vexing Kyle. Josh, ooooh Josh, do you think you could mature enough to respond in an intelligent (as much as you can muster) and relevant manner (3rd grade is over pal, if you even made it that far). You and your little friend really don't realize how ridiculous you look, do you?

      August 29, 2010 at 2:42 am |
    • Josh

      Hey Dr Kyle, you see he didnt address being a drunk. Ryan after reading some of your comments, its obvious to me that you have one of tow things wrong with you, A: your mom didnt hold you enough as a child or B: you have an inferiority complex and your a BIG MAN behind your computer...gulp gulp, have another one Otis, gives us job security.

      August 29, 2010 at 3:16 am |
    • AshtonN

      Fox news reports all sides of a story? Right. That couldn't be further from the truth!

      August 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  9. halhiker

    I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.

    Adolf Hitler

    August 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  10. NoWay

    He should have invited the rev Fred Phelps and his hate congregation – they would have fit real well with the military tribute.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  11. Cavemansgreatgrandson

    Beck is my brother and Palin is my sister! – They will lead this nation into God's Cave

    August 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
    • freewoman

      the entrance into hades was a cave.. perhaps thats where we are all going in an handbasket...

      August 29, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  12. johnrj08

    Beck obviously wants to create an evangelical political movement with him as the titular pontiff. He's no longer a pundit or a commentator. He's a preacher with a secular message that calls for a pre-Civil War America. None of the individual rights which have been guaranteed by the federal government would apply, as states rights become pre-eminent. The collective bargaining that created the greatest middle class in world history would be forbidden and women's rights would be set back a century. If you're African-American or non-Christian, forget it. You're out of luck.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  13. Sine

    Holly Beck Sh&^! He is off his rocker. Someone needs to tea bag his crooked little halo.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  14. Brian, West Palm Beach FL

    Glenn Beck is a man with a job. Liberals hate jobs and hate him.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • halhiker

      There was someone else who always faulted liberalism. Perhaps you've heard of him.

      Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction.

      Adolf Hitler

      August 28, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
    • Elaine

      Fooling right wing morons is not a real job.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:25 am |
    • MinRKist

      If one loves what they do, they will never work a day in their life.
      Beck and Palin can gauge how effective they are by the volume of the lefts whining.

      August 29, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  15. Susan

    I watched Glenn Beck's speech today on CSPAN and was so inspired by what he shared. I don't care what CNN says and his critic's say to insult him, when they don't even know what his talk was about. Did you hear his message. Glenn is truly a man of honor, not perfect, but striving to teach people about American history. His talk today was so inspiring and uplifting. His words make me want to reach future and build a better tomorrow. He isn't a racist, he embraces all faiths and told all the different faiths there and all the faiths around this great country to bring honor back to our country. He shared that we should love our families, our countries, to shun those that are bigots and those that what to divide us.
    He encouraged us To be true to ourselves to our fellow man. I would strongly suggest anyone who hasn't heard his speech to take a few minutes and click on CSPAN and hear it for yourselves. I promise you it will stay in your mind and heart and will inspire your soul and bring you closer to your God no matter what faith you embrace. I was very touched by what he said, and I refuse to let others try and turn it into some bad or dirty, he is a true proud American.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • benson

      I completely agree with you, but know that you are on CNN and most people here will not agree, unfortunately they form their opinions on what CNN tells them rather than researching for themselves.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • Elaine

      You are an extreme right winger, so everyone else, even thouse in the middle, will look extreme to you. You have been brainwashed with lies through the likes of Beck. Lots of people watch Beck and see right through the phony that he is. It isn't like we didn't watch but are cutting him down anyway.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • Dan

      Agree with you, Susan. It's about time for our best and brightest to stand up as leaders. As ALL leaders have their detractors, it is always best to listen to the message directly from the source and evaluate personally, rather than succumbing to "group think" and allowing one's opinions to be formed by others. Beck HAS made a few blunders in the past. Who hasn't? But overall, his thought process is in the right place, as is his heart.

      There's much wrong with America. America, the soon to be world's second largest economy. America, whose leaders last year proclaimed that printing more money and giving most of it to banks, auto companies, and businesses would solve economic problems.

      Let's see another round of trillions be printed and given directly to families. May as well. Pouring bad money over bad money seems to be the only way this administration can think of to possibly stay in the good graces of voters for another term in office. Problem is, voters have seen the emperor's new clothes for what they are. Smoke and mirrors. Destructive spending. But what do they care? They'll have made their millions and be collecting their pensions for decades... while America crumbles.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:10 am |
    • Bill

      Beck speaks to people who are for the most part white, in mid-life, conservative, and strongly Christian. That is a lot of people but our country is very diverse and he not connecting with millions. He turns a lot of people, like myself, because I do not fit into the Tea Part profile. He spouts a lot of conservative clichés that I've heard over the years by other conservative speakers.

      He reminds of Billy Graham but Billy Graham was sincere. Beck is a showman who carves attention and is feeding into the Evangelicals who were manipulated and used by the Bush Republicans. Beck, like so many conservatives, wants to take the country back to the 1950s, Pleasentville. Try as he might this will not happen. Cultures change, especially in a Democracy, regardless of how much preachers, politicians, newscaster etc. try to prevent it.

      If this were 1000 years ago he'd be at the head of the Christian soldiers as a Crusader marching into heathen territory trying to convert the world into Christianity. We all know what a disaster the Crusades were.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  16. Tonyb

    Sadly- we are a nation of morons and this guy has a voice. amazing.....

    August 28, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • Susan

      Did you hear his speech. He isn't a moron, he's a proud American. Does that scare you? His speech was inspiring. Did you hear it for yourself? Does it scare you when people talk about God? I feel sorry that the far left twists everything and opposes everyone that speaks about God. I guess in your world we better not oppose the mosque being built at ground zero, or you'll called us bigots, or if we dare to oppose Obama and speak out and say he is destroying our country, you'll call us bigots or racists, but it's ok for you to say that vilest things about Beck, or Sara Palin or anyone else that believes in God.
      All I can say is, God help this country. We the people aren't backing down no matter what your calling people who believe in God, and family and believe that America is still Great and We won't let her be turned into a socialist country..

      August 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
    • oh Susan

      I feel for you. The only ray of hope is that you're reading this forum. There is a latent enlightened being trying to get out of that retrograde brain. Good luck!

      August 28, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
    • dcfromct

      Susan – well put!

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

      We should change gods name to Super Daddy.

      That way we know which god you are referring to there are millions of them.

      August 29, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  17. jamed

    The reason there are so many negative comments here is because it's on a CNN website....liberals....they preach about helping people and tell you how to help people but most never lift a hand to actually help someone themselves, it's beneath them to deal with anyone in need. Self righteous, egomaniacs that love to hear themselves speak, that's most every liberal I've ever met and I know many and I'd say all have never done any community service unless it was demanded when they got busted with weed.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • Brian, West Palm Beach FL

      Liberal = angry have nots

      August 28, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • Elaine

      That comment is obviously just a false stereotype repeated by a right wing parrot. Most educated and hard working people in this country are the liberals. Beck is rich because he knows how to manipulate eager idiots. That is not an impressive skill. He should get a real job.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:18 am |
    • Apex Idaho

      20% of the country consider them selves liberal

      September 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  18. Chris

    Tens of thousands prayed today led by a man who is going to hell because of his Mormon faith, according to many churches the tea bag party attend. So are they listening to Beck or are they listening to their own church?

    August 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
    • wanna2know

      OMG, Beck is going down there? You mean forever?

      August 28, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • Tom in TX

      Religions have so far accomplished no greater deeds than bringing hell to earth. Religions have brought death, torture, oppression, brainwashing, humiliation to millions and millions of people throughout history.

      Religion is the poison and drug of the uneducated mind. People like Stalin, Mao, Hitler understood that the idiotic masses wait for nothing more than to be guided to bring hell to earth. Clowns like Beck and Palin tap into these same waters without fully understanding what they might help unleash. Stupidity is dangerous, it is the source of fascism.

      August 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
    • MadisonMan

      Invoking Stalin, Mao and Hitler (all atheists that committed the worst atrocities the world has ever seen) in an attempt to convince us that relgion deludes people? I do believe that is the silliest argument I have ever heard.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • David in Texas

      Tom in TX, I could not have said it any better. Awesome!

      August 29, 2010 at 1:44 am |
    • Ryan

      Correction: Hitler was not an Atheist, he was a Catholic/Christian, he followed Christ...look it up.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:57 am |
    • freewoman

      Beck the ainti christ...

      so funny..

      August 29, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • freewoman

      Madison man.
      might be a product of a religious school or just did not pay attention in his history class.

      Stalin and Moa had god complexes. They were their own gods therefore not atheists.

      I hear the most beautiful song ever written.. IMAGINE!

      If we had no gods there would not be any reason to kill.

      Kill the gods and let the people live in peace.
      Let the gods fight their own war.

      August 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • NL

      Hitler was a Catholic, not an atheist, and you might want to check what life was like under the Tsars and Emperors before you blame atheism for being responsible for Russian and Chinese brutality. They use to sell postcards of public executions in pre-Mao China, and then there were the many Russian progroms. Then you have to consider the Inquisition and life under the other Christian European monarchs. So, I think a more accurate conclusion is that it's having absolute power that gives license to brutality, despite the religious beliefs of the regime, wouldn't you say?

      August 30, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  19. Greg

    This is his new approach to make money. He doesn't believe a word he spouts off. He believes in the all mighty dollar.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  20. jayh

    Glen Beck is an opportunistic idiot.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:13 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.