August 30th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My Take: Beck’s rally was about restoring virtue and God's place

Editor's Note: Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, California, is a radio commentator and author of Heaven and the Afterlife: What Happens When You Die?

By Jim Garlow, Special to CNN

What was the theme of Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally? As someone who attended the combined six hours of the Friday and Saturday events, the themes were obvious.

For starters, a call to decency reigned. Not some bland, gray, boring form of mundane living, but rather the centuries-old respectable virtues that gave us the America we now enjoy.

Sometime around 1960, morals jumped off the bridge without first attaching the bungee cord. The result is a nation with everything from devastated families, drug- and crime-infested communities to a hedonistically driven national debt.

So remedial was this message that a Jewish rabbi—who received multiple ovations from the overwhelmingly evangelical Friday night crowd—called for a return to “manners.”

Equally basic to life was Beck’s simple exhortation to “tell the truth.” Every person should know by the first day of kindergarten. For Beck to need to call for something so basic is reflective of the moral anarchy and chaos from the failure of a generation to properly parent its own offspring.

The incessant removal of a moral base is killing us.

The blocking of reverence for God has taken away the understanding of objective truth—the Ten Commandments and acknowledging God in our schools for starters—freeing humankind to wallow in lawlessness.

Restoring Honor was about extolling virtue, the very traits that propelled this nation to rise from global obscurity to world leader. The verb-noun combination “extol virtue” is as desperately needed as it is quaint sounding.

One of the ways that virtue was extolled over the weekend was the spotlight on America’s military.

Persons who had made enormous personal sacrifices—one young soldier with both hands missing, another whose face had been blown off in Vietnam, along with a mother whose military son had been killed—were among the celebrated heroes.

The bedrock of the day was a total reliance on and thankfulness to God. This is not—as liberals love to say—“wearing your religion on your sleeve.” This is living one’s faith from one’s mind and heart. Above all, the crowd was there to honor God. And they did.

Despite the pre-rally discussions of Beck’s Mormonism, the rally’s litany of evangelical speakers gave it the Jesus-centeredness of a Billy Graham Crusade. All theological references were clearly evangelical and biblically based.

And Beck supercharged the crowd with radical confidence in individual human potential. Towards the culmination of Saturday’s three-hour event, Beck cried out that “one person can change a nation.”

Some might have thought he was referring to some yet unknown but emerging national leader. He was not. His next line: “and that person is you!”

Beck empowered people. His confidence in the American understanding of the human spirit was reminiscent of the writings of the Founding Fathers.

On the stage, African Americans were as predominant as whites. Native Americans were also included. Friday night’s Kennedy Center rally, also evangelical in tone, had no white male pastors as speakers. The lineup of African Americans, Catholics, a rabbi and female speakers garnered about 30 standing ovations.

In macro tones, the tragedy in our culture is the incapacity of many to grasp that our current tensions are no longer merely “right vs. left” but more seriously “right vs. wrong.”

Ripping up babies in the womb is a barbaric act. It is wrong. Destroying the definition of families so that children lack either a mommy or a daddy is narcissistic and just plain stupid.

Spending excessive amounts of money the nation does not have is economic suicide. Excessive taxation is oppression.

Robbing people of the cherished concept of “the consent of the governed” is nationally devastating. Smothering creativity and entrepreneurialism with bureaucracy is a denial of the longing for productivity in the human spirit, a violation of the image of God stamped deep within us.

America, by margins of 70 percent to 80 percent believe in the values that made us, whether it be in maintaining “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or “In God We Trust” on our coins. Americans have grown weary of the oligarchic cultural elite oppressing the masses.

To discerning persons, the rally was not about Glenn Beck. It was not about Sarah Palin. This rally was about freedom, honor, our American heritage, and sacrifice. And foundationally, it was about God.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jim Garlow.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Frogist

    Another needlessly vague article. Why don't these alleged moral leaders who so extol honesty come out and say what they are saying? You mention "ripping up babies in the womb", do you mean this rally was for anti-choice? You talk about people destroying the definition of family, do you mean those darn ga-ys? Also for something so non-political, to equate Left with wrong seems like an oddly political statement. As does talking about taxation and government spending. Honestly, just because you don't mention red and blue states or which party sponsored this (tea party), doesn't mean it wasn't political in nature.
    If you want honesty, Glenn Beck, how about you start with yourself.

    August 31, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  2. JohnQuest

    lostrelic, Thanks I never listen to his show, now I see I have not missed anything. How or why do people still listen to this (fill in the blank).

    August 31, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  3. lostrelic

    This is the true Glenn Beck


    August 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  4. Q

    "The blocking of reverence for God has taken away the understanding of objective truth...". In addition to simply being false, this statement is also completely nonsensical. Objective truth has never been derived from wholly subjective interpretations of mythology.

    August 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  5. Todd Beaucoudray

    The Ten Commandments. LMAO! I love the obession over ten rules, most of which aren't even criminally offensive. It's also absurdly funny considering the same set of books the ten commandments are in have over 800 other commandments.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  6. Steve J.

    Garlow is just another Fundie clown who thinks he can fool the rubes by falsely claiming Biblical authority.

    August 30, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  7. Awakening

    This man's comments are absurd. How is assaulting the humanistic origins of this country saving it? How is call everyone to put their faith in an external superpower "empowering". How is attacking good families good for America? If you want to be empowered, study how karma operates in your life and how you can be the change you want to see.

    As for the moral decay since the 60's, what was so moral about the age of segregation? The age of oppression of homosexuals? The age when my catholic grandmother was excommunicated for marrying a Jew? I think those were evil times and I'm glad I didn't see them. I hope we never regress to that state of pitiful fear and ignorance.

    We are closer to being morally on track than we have ever been. Once we recognize the validity of gay relationships.

    August 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  8. Jane

    Both Friday night's program at Kennedy Center and the Saturday Rally gives me HOPE for our nation. It was all FANTASTIC!! May God continue to bless Genn Beck, our leader "for such a time as this!"

    August 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  9. john caddidy

    you are kidding, right? are there any editors left at CNN, or did you guys just entirely capitulate to lowering your standards in the base pursuit of clicks? no wonder fox is cleaning your clock

    August 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  10. NL

    Here you go, a list of the 10 most happy countries in the world.

    The Bahamas

    Plenty of socialism in Scandinavia and Canada, and they're more secular than we are too. Must just be all that cool, clean, mountain air that puts them over the top, I suppose.

    The US is listed as number 23.

    August 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • NL

      oops, that was meant for MKS post insisting that "progressivism, modern liberalism, leftism, and secular humanism – as stated in all versions of the Humanist Manifesto – have failed to improve the lives of humans on this planet."

      August 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  11. Selfish Gene

    How, exactly, is Wall Street "productive"? They make money by subsidizing risk and gambling with other people's money.
    How is the military industrial complex "productive"? Creating weapons to baptize the middle east, all on taxpayer's dime.
    Go ahead and blame poor people. They created the economic mess. They should have worked harder.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Good book, RD is my hero , along with SH. I like your post I don't think any of the "religious" zealots will get it.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
    • Steve J.

      How, exactly, is Wall Street "productive"?

      Hey, it's hard to figure out ways to evade regulation.

      August 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  12. RIch

    Ask yourself... who profits in a free market society? The productive

    Who profits in a socialist or subsidized society? The lazy

    August 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Dan, feel free to chime in about how you have this great idea.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  13. RIch

    How did any of you obvious libtards survive to puberty? Seriously. By your own logic, you should have burned yourself to death in a fire, from failing to learn that fire burns.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Time for you to wake up and grow up. Politicians who are promising you 'any physical thing' are bribing you with your own money, or are you too stupid to understand that.

    The answer is the free market, the question is both Capitalism and Socialism.

    As for Beck, stop getting your news from hack sites like Media Maters, the Huffington post, or John Stewart, all of who are profiting on your stupidity.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Free Market, trickling down on you since 1980.

      August 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      So we should only get our "news" from reliable sources Rush, Glenn, Ann, and the rest of the crew at Fox, or the Center?

      August 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • Steve J.

      The answer is the free market,

      And the question was, Name the largest racket in the world

      August 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  14. Frogist

    @MaryAnn: You assume I have hatred, am obviously younger, know not what I say, walk around with blinders on, and I am filled with pride and intellectual arrogance. Seems like a lot of judgemental talk from someone who has never met me. Not a very Christ-like trait, is it? Also since you seem to want to be like the great Beck himself, how about you keep the left/right rhetoric, like "lieing lib's", out of the discussion. After all, I thought this wasn't political.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  15. Dan

    Glenn Beck organized an incredibly successful rally to honor our Military and God.

    Why do you America hating leftists have such a big problem with that?

    August 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • NL

      Nothing wrong with honoring the military, we owe them a lot, but paying lip service to honoring the military in order to talk about the need for God just isn't something that everyone believes in. That's what the big problem is and you can love America and point that out at the same time.

      August 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I wasn't there but my impression was that he wasn't honoring God, per se, but holding a public rally to convince people that they should honor and that we as a nation are supposed to officially honor God. And, by using the phrase 'Restoring Honor' he was by implication saying that America is not currently honorable.

      I disagree with his assessment.

      August 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • TammyB

      There you go making generalizations again about the leftists (Dems). Well, I AM a Dem, not exactly left, pretty much in the middle, definitely not a Rep, however, and as patriotic a person as you'll ever find. My father was in the military for 28 years, I support veterans (do you?), and have fought for many rights for my father as the government was taking them away (under Reps and Dems, I might vehemently add!). Our government blows, both parties blow, and media blows. That about covers everyone, including you and your party. At least I don't blame just the right and left...they are both to blame for the state of the country. Open your eyes.

      August 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  16. Mary Ann

    Mr. Garlow,

    Your commetnary was a wonderful sumary of the events. The hatred spewed in these other posts by obviously younger people is so sad – the lack of faith, hope and charity. What a lack of respect for our Creator – God forgive them for they know not what they say. They have such strong opinions but have they read the bible? They sound like they walk around with blinders on. Have they tried to have a dialog with God? God knows your heart. The more you seek him to more he reveals to you. If you are seeking Him to prove Him wrong you will never find Him or Wisdom. Humble yourself, rid yourself of your pride and intellectual arrogance. Don't believe what the lieing lib's tell you – God IS in control, you just have to let go and let him drive. When you hit rock bottom, when your humanism fails and are at your lowest point remember what this says and just give God a chance only then you will see clearly. Humans can only see the past and present God lives in the past, present and future He has no "time" He just IS. He knows why he made you it is up to you to find out what you are supposed to be doing for Him. Joy from anything human is fleeting but joy from God stirs the soul and is eternal . Find it.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Mary Ann, I don't know what to say, you believe that you have no control over your life and that no one else should have control over their own lives either. You put your hopes into something you can't you know even exist, more to the point in order to believe in the Bible and thereby consider yourself a Christian you have to believe that the world, the universe and everything in it is less than 10,000 years old. I would think that if anyone is older than 12 they would know that we have civilizations that are older than 10,000 years. I think the non-believers are not the issue, it's the impossible things the believers have to believe that causes me the most concerns, I don't want my children learning these obvious untruths.

      August 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • NL

      Mary Ann-
      I, for one, am not exactly young. When I was younger I would have been in your camp, but I'm older now and I actually read the bible pretty regularly. I read more of it than I use to, that's for sure! Guess what? It's just a book, like so many other ancient books. Read them and you can see the similarities. Compare God in the bible to myths about other gods and you'll see similarities too. God is just a god. They all behave pretty much like power-influenced humans do.

      Saying that God's in control is like saying that the stars are in control, but do you let your horoscope dictate what choices you make in this life? Some people believe in astrology just as much as you believe in God. I'm betting you're skeptical of astrologers too. There's just as much evidence for astrology as for Christianity. I'm just wondering why you don't apply the same level of rational thinking to your chosen faith? Surely Christian beliefs are logical and strong enough to stand a little rational criticism, right?

      August 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  17. MKS

    Progressivism, modern liberalism, leftism, and secular humanism – as stated in all versions of the Humanist Manifesto – have failed to improve the lives of humans on this planet. Indeed, all of these philosophies have degraded humanity. Nazism, Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism are but attempts to enforce many of the above philosophical prinicples.

    The Judeao-Christian ethic really does help. It helps individuals, families, communities and nations. It raises the level of kindness.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      World History book. Get one.

      August 30, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  18. Bill

    The most vehement proselytizers seem to be recovered addicts of one sort or another: they have successfully overcome their personal demons and then feel a calling to defeat everyone else's, whether real or imagined. As far as I'm concerned, Beck is an undereducated populist tool who has managed to turn his limited assets into a paycheck with little regard for veracity or the damage done.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • NL

      Ever watch Christian TV? Most of the inspirational guest speakers like to describe themselves as people you'd hate to meet in a dark ally, ... until they were "saved", of course. Many will also describe how they occasionally "backslide" into immoral, or even criminal behavior. It's the Parable of the Prodigal Son replayed where the repentant hellraiser is believed to be more valuable than the always obedient son. Says a lot for how Jesus views loyalty, doesn't it?

      If you're a Christian wouldn't you be better off scheduling a major backslide followed by a rediscovery of faith every so often, just to let God and everyone else know what you're sacrificing? You know, play hard-to-get? It's not whether you're good or bad that'll get you into heaven anyway, it's how much God wants you, right? So, get out there and get noticed. Develop some street cred with the Christian community and you too can become a Christian "inspirational" speaker.

      August 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • TammyB

      @ NL...I think it comes from the old adage in order to appreciate the good, you have to experience the bad. Some people are just smarter than others, and appreciate the good all along. I'm not one of those people, of course, as I have always learned the hard way! But I think most people think one appreciates what they have if they once had nothing, and so Christian speakers play to that, definitely!

      August 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • NL

      I also think that some people are just naturally good-natured, and will continue to be good-natured despite whatever their religion happens to be. Of course, they may still do things we might consider bad, like shunning somebody that their religious belief system instructs them to, but in their own eyes, and those of their faith community, they will remain just naturally good. You could call them non-aggressive, but you could also call them meek. Matthew 5:5 says "they will inherit the earth" and the modern interpretation of that are those who submit to the will of Jesus, but I still think some people naturally wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly. They certainly aren't the proud and ambitious who actually do look like they're inheriting the earth, and the church. Beck wouldn't be one, so I count Matthew 5:5 as just another failed bible prophecy.

      August 31, 2010 at 8:15 am |
    • Chill Will

      @NL: I understand that some Christian speakers are not on the up-and-up but that is not true for all of them. Also, if you go back and read the parable of the Prodigal Son you will see that the celebration is about a lost son who returns home repentant and is "found". The father tells the older (angry) son that what the father has is also but they had to celebrate because of the return of the lost son. The story is not about how Jesus rewards loyalty but celebrates repentance and a return to God. Also, all Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled or are waiting to be fulfilled and you can choose to believe that evidence or not. As far as evidence of God, the Bible teaches that God's thoughts and reasons are far above our own and the creation itself is part of His witness. We can choose to ignore it and say there is no proof and just because we see "imperfections" in creation doesn't mean we God didn't create us. The Bible also teaches that man's sin corrupted creation and therefore there are many imperfections in the world today. There is enough proof in DNA to show evidence of a designer. Just because we haven't figured it out doesn't negate the reality of God. Regardless, it is still our own individual choice whether or not we choose to believe or not so we all still have to come to our own decisions.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  19. Lagitane

    I'm really glad that there were so many African Americans on stage – Wow!! I suppose that some of Jim Garlow's best friends are black too! What I'm more interested in is how diverse the crowd was, not the tokens on stage. Please – this "movement" is not ethnically diverse – their agenda is anti-diversity. The cries of "take back our country!", and even the message in this commentary about the so-called moral destruction of the US in the 60's (hmm...I wonder what that is referring to) is nothing more than a call back to the days of institutional white male privilege.

    The tone of Garlow's piece is insulting. He wants a world where white, well-off people don't have to be confronted with poor non-whites, and the women-folk "stop killing babies" and stay home while the man goes out in the world.

    Garlow – your Utopia is hell for anyone who is different from you. And THAT is anti-American.

    August 30, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  20. MACT

    I hope that the attendees really were there to boost their spirituality, but I cannot believe that was Mr. Beck’s real purpose. I cannot believe that a man who displays none of the love and compassion that should be the hallmark of a true follower of Christ is honest in his public statements.

    August 30, 2010 at 12:46 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.