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Tilting at Windmills

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August 30, 2010

THE SPEED-BUMP ON THE ROAD TO BECK'S RELIGIOUS AGENDA.... The purpose of Saturday's rally at the Lincoln Memorial wasn't exactly clear, but it seemed to have something to do with religion. By one account, the event was "overtly religious, filled with gospel music and speeches that were more like sermons."

"America," Glenn Beck told attendees, "today begins to turn back to God."

Whose God? Well, that's a little trickier. Christian Newswire seemed torn -- they like Beck's hysterical political message, but have real problems with his chosen faith tradition.

Glenn Beck promotes a false gospel. However, many of his political ideas can help America.

Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. Mormonism is not a Christian denomination but a cult of Christianity.

The country needs to get back to the simplicity of the Bible. The reason our country is in bad shape is that ministers for the most part do not share the truth. Many endorse false gospels including Mormonism.

Faiz Shakir added that this sentiment isn't isolated.

Brannon Howse, a conservative writer and founder of Worldview Weekend, said, "While I applaud and agree with many of Glenn Beck's conservative and constitutional views, that does not give me or any other Bible-believing Christian justification to compromise Biblical truth by spiritually joining Beck."

"Jesus Christ's Church has universally rejected Mormonism's Anti-Trinitarian theology and its claim that mortals may become God," David Shedlock, an evangelical blogger, wrote on a FreedomWorks forum earlier this month. "Beck asks Christian leaders to 'put differences aside,' but Beck himself daily peppers his broadcasts with Mormon distinctives because he cannot keep his beliefs to himself."

It creates an interesting religio-political dynamic that's worth watching. As we talked about over the weekend, Tea Partiers and related right-wing activists have often been split, just below the surface, between competing factions -- largely secular libertarians who focus on fiscal issues and the scope of government vs. religious-right-style theocrats who are still inclined to fight a culture war. Saturday's gathering seemed to suggest the latter contingent might have the edge.

But then there's the other fissure -- theocrats comfortable with a Mormon's leadership role in their so-called "movement," and theocrats who appreciate Beck's madness, but not his LDS membership.

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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"...can't keep his beliefs to himself."

Boy, there's a complaint I share.

Posted by: Mark on August 30, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

And somewhere in this mess is a governing philosophy?

But what about the crucial swing contigent of libertarians who focus on fiscal and scope of government who also toss and read bones?

This is like staring into an abyss.

Posted by: JRinDallas on August 30, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Deep Thought: The words "Muslim" and "Mormon" both begin with the letter "M".

Sesame Street teaches children about the letter "M" on PUBLIC television.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on August 30, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK


I think, instead of "Who's God" you meant to say "Whose God" - ?

Posted by: PowerOfX on August 30, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who gives the insatiable huckster Beck an iota of credibility on anything needs to have their head examined.

Posted by: June on August 30, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I know saying this sometimes provokes flame wars, but while Mormons are generally culturally conservative, they're also (1) a very, VERY fast-growing identity group, and (2) not monolithic at all.

The LDS of today is nowhere near as white, old, Republican, or Utah-based as you might think. And the less they are of any of those things, the more likely they are to become another huge chunk of votes the GOP will needlessly throw away in order to placate some other faction. (See also: Hispanics, gays, Muslims.) This handwringing from the (mainstream) evangelical right over the weird spooky cult is a good example.

Unless Democrats or, ahem, "progressives" try harder to lose them first by proving we can freak out over the weird spooky cult even better than the GOP. Which unfortunately we might.

Posted by: Matt on August 30, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Beck is Mormon? No wonder he believes in crazy origin stories.

Posted by: CT on August 30, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

If I may add a few thoughts, living in the center of Mormondom ....

Beck's views seem to step from a very conservative, very reactionary, very much on the down low school of thought that stems from a guy named Cleon Skousen, who was a very scary bircher sort of guy. I think Ezra Taft Benson [Sec. Ag., under Eisenhower, former pres. of the LDS church] also came from this school, which is rooted in rural southern Idaho / northern Utah. It is important to note that not ALL LDS folks view the world this way [e. g., Harry Reid] BUT we should be very very very concerned / watchful / worried. The LDS faith does preach to all that the end times will come, and part of their gig is that they will be better prepared [spiritually AND materially - thus the storehouses of food, farm equipment, fertilizer, etc., that are pre-positioned throughout the areas where many LDS folks live]. Beck seems to hew to the idea that the constitution was divinely inspired [something Mike Lee believes, too] BUT what they won't say is that this inspiration paves the way for an LDS - based new order after the endtimes.

So, be careful when painting all of LDS culture with the Beckian brush; OTOH, be very very afraid and watchful of these nutjobs.

Posted by: bigutah on August 30, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

For those who haven't read it, "Under the Banner of Heaven" is an interesting read on the history and asperations of the LDS church. One of the purported goals is to consolidate political power in the US. Is Glenn Beck leading this campaign?

Posted by: Lee on August 30, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

My guess is now that Republicans are pulling away, they will attempt to make themselves seem moderately calm in nature. They first had to galvanize their voters, get them fired up and angry and completely distrust Obama. Now they are in the process of making themselves look appealing.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on August 30, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

The Right is always demonizing some religious/ethnic/racial group, but today's despised other can become tomorrow's mainstream. Once upon a time, Catholics were shunned by the conservative Protestant majority, but now Bill O'Reilly and Pat Buchanan can testify to how mainstream Catholics have become in the conservative movement. There aren't a whole lot of conservative Jews, but the conservative movement welcomes Jews these days, as Eric Cantor proves. Mormons will be mainstream conservatives soon enough.

As long as there is a brand new group to demonize, conservatives are willing to forget about old animosities. Muslims will be mainstream Republicans before too long, if they can whip up a frenzy about the threat imposed by atheists or Buddhists.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on August 30, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK
The Mountain Meadows massacre of September 11, 1857 was widely blamed on the church's teachings of blood atonement and other anti-United States rhetoric by LDS Church leaders during the Utah War.[citation needed] The widely-publicized massacre was a mass killing of Arkansan emigrants by a Mormon militia led by prominent Mormon leader John D. Lee, who was later executed for his role in the killings. After escalating rumors that some of the emigrants had participated in early Mormon persecution, the militia conducted a siege, and when the emigrants surrendered, the militia killed men, women, and children in cold blood, adopted some of the surviving children, and attempted a cover-up.

So by the usual right-wing standards, by which all muslims are judged by the actions of the 9/11 hijackers, Glenn Beck, and all Mormons should be cast out, shunned, and prevented from ever building anything anywhere in the US.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on August 30, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The country needs to get back to the simplicity of the Bible.

The Bible is simple? Have these people ever read it?

Posted by: chrenson on August 30, 2010 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Simpltons easily resort to violence to protect their god!

I wonder if Beck's god will prevail, or if the god of other Christian denominations will slay Beck's god, as Zeus did to his Titan dad! -Kevo

Posted by: k on August 30, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

It never ceases to amaze me how you guys dis what you claim to admire, and emulate what you claim to reject.

It is well-known that Roman Catholicism was once regarded as incompatible with American civics. What is somewhat less well known is that the accusation was true: in 1854, Pius IX declared that religious liberty, freedom of speech, and the separation of Church and State were not compatible with Catholic doctrine -- so it was not possible to be both a good American and a good Catholic.

It was not until the rise of the Americanist heresy, condemned by the Vatican in 1899 but entirely successful regardless (and finally tacitly endorsed in Vatican II) that this was resolved: in favor of American civics.

Likewise, the LDS church was essentially a criminal conspiracy for much of the 19th century.

It was not until the LDS gave up polygamy in 1890, that Congress was willing to admit Utah to the Union (in 1896).

So why do you guys fight so hard against helping American Muslims articulate the same process now?

Posted by: theAmericanist on August 30, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist - so your login name revolves around a century-old scandal that literally no one cares about. And you want to link that to hating Muslims now. Ok, carry on.

Posted by: Rathskeller on August 30, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think the probability of Mitt Romney as the 2012 GOP nominee is fairly high. I cannot imagine the corporatist party allowing Sarah Palin to hijack their money machine. So, it will be an interesting dynamic watching evangelical Christians blur theological distinctions in order to accommodate Mitt the Mormon. Glenn Beck is prelude to the Romney Revelation: Mormons can be saved!

Posted by: walt on August 30, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why do Muslins have to sniff each others assholes when they pray? I'm sure they're all glad beck isn't a muslin because none of them would ever want to have to smell his asshole..

Posted by: Liam on August 30, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

So where does Beck shop for his Magic Underwear?

Posted by: cwolf on August 30, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

He's against abortion, so I'd suspect he gets "Fruit of the Womb."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 30, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

LSD, that explains all of it..

Posted by: Trollop on August 30, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

That poor Grifter, The Beckster...
All of that Christianity, and he chose the wrong flavor - Mormon.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 30, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

There is very little chance that Mitt will be the nominee. I don't think he can harness the fury and craziness of the batshit crazy caucus.

I also forgot to add in my earlier post. The president of the LDS church is also revered as the head prophet, who has a direct line to God. He receives the messages from God, and communicates with the masses. Below him, lesser members receive lesser messages. I am not sure what Allah is telling Glenn Beck ....

Posted by: bigutah on August 30, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I keep telling my conservative friends in the Mormon Church that their biggest enemy is not liberals or the Democratic Party but right wing Evangelicals. Thanks to Matt at 11:44 for a reasonable description of the Mormon Church today. Certainly they (we) have conservative views about moral issues but no one should mistake the nutty philosophies of Glenn Beck (although I'm sure he has many Mormon followers) with the ideas of the general population of Mormons and especially not with the church leadership.

And Snarki child of Loki, please don't mention the Mountain Meadow Massacre without also mentioning Hahn's Mill, the 6000 lives lost crossing the plains fleeing from persecution or the extermination order issued by Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs in 1838 and FINALLY rescinded in 1976. All of these events were dispicable and totally un-American.

Most of all, please do not assume that Glen Beck speaks for any member of the Mormon Church and especially not the church leadership. And for those who must call me a nut-job because I'm a Mormon, just know that I consider you just as nutty...but I don't hate you.

Posted by: Vandal on August 30, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

No, Rat.

One of the great sins in studying history is to project current values back in time. You guys commit this sin constantly, claiming that anti-Muslim feelings now are just like anti-Catholic or anti-Mormon feelings in the past: since you consider anti-Catholic bias to be religious bigotry now (except when you're talking about forcing Catholic hospitals and pharmacists to perform abortions or provide contraceptives), so folks who know enough about Islam to make sense when they talk about it can ONLY be motivated by religious bigotry.

Not so.

You guys have just ingested this so thoroughly that common sense sounds like Martian to you.

Catholics went through a pretty subtle process to become Americanized -- a word that was actually coined for the Catholic Church (by Orestes Brownson, if ya wanna know).

For Mormons, it was much more painful, actually involving a couple wars against the US, in Missouri and in Utah itself, as well as a dozen smaller incidents.

Skipping over how it actually happened in the past because you figure the world has changed so much, is simple ignorance.

Me, I figure more sins result from REpression than EXpression.

So I'm blunt when I quote Rauf talking about injecting Sharia judges into the American judiciary. I don't pretend he didn't say it, and I take him at his word when he explains his belief that this seems like a good idea.

I just recognize that it is literally un-American. Why don't you? You're not shy when Steve B bitches that various denominations regard it is a moral requirement to discriminate against gays.

Which is why I ALSO recognize the significance of the different historic origins of the largest chunk of Islam in America, the former Nation of Islam folks. Their theological provenance within Islam runs from Elijah Muhammed's crackpot alienation, through Jamil Diab's immigrant patriotism, to W. Deen Muhammad, who told me that he learned to love the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution from a Palestinian refugee trained at al-Azhar mosque.

Before the Saudis took it over. And that's the problem -- the Saudis fund virtually all Islamic education now, and they are Salafis who, like Pius IX, reject the possibility that their faith can be compatible with religious liberty, free speech, and the separation of Church and State.

Fercryingoutloud, HELP American Muslims articulate the process that Catholics and the LDS went through.

Stop pretending it's already happened (Rauf is Exhibit A that it ain't), or that it's not important.

Posted by: theAmericanist on August 30, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Parsing Professor Glenn...

What's next?
A paperback parsing Palin's tweets?

Meanwhile the left celebrates its ignorance of the Koch brothers. Here's Jon Chait last Friday:

First of all, the most salient fact about Koch is how little media attention he's attracted, given the enormous influence he's wielded upon American politics. I follow politics all day long, and don't think I could have told you a thing about him before I read Mayer's article.

I mean really...
It's okay to spit on the rodeo clown every now and then...
But I hardly pay attention to politics at all and even so, was keeping a file on the Koch brothers...
Focus on where the money is...
Murdoch and the Kochs...
These are the enemies of a democratic America...
These are the forces holding back legislation on global warming...
These are the pricks whose agendas will cost a billion flooded lives...

Posted by: koreyel on August 30, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mitt Romney will be the nominee in 2012 because Glen Beck will mobilize the crazy caucus in Romney's behalf. Beck will play the kingmaker. Palin will either be marginalized or will trigger a full-out idea war between the theological halves of the Republican party.

I doubt it will all translate to general campaign success. But there's a danger the the Republicans will learn from this and use the theological divide as grounds to kick the crazies out, thus becoming a leaner but more successful party.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on August 30, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn Beck: The Lord of the (F)lies

I assumed the question regarding Glenn Beck's god was rhetorical. The only entity that a narcissist like Beck would worship is himself. What kind of divine being is Glenn Beck? In "The Lord of the Flies", a feral group of young thugs led by Jack Merridew worshipped a pigs head on a pike. That's Glenn Beck, (even though the recent photos of him bear a striking resemblance to Piggy, a bespectacled and asthmatic young boy who represents the voice of reason)and the thugs are his folowers.

Another group of boys was led by a hapless but well intentioned boy named Ralph, who tried to maintain a thin veneer of civility in the face of the constant onslaught of Jack Merridew and his followers. Ralph and his dwindling band are saved from destruction when adults from the outside world intervene.

I feel like Democrats have been trying to maintain a thin veneer of civility in the political life of this country, and having as much luck as Ralph and his followers (Piggy, the voice of reason, is eventually killed by Merridew's band). I sometimes wonder if it is possible for "adults" to intervene in this country to intervene before it is too late. Where would these adults come from? Certainly not from the Republican Party.

Posted by: broken arrow on August 30, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be surprised if Beck orchestrates a conversion drama, sinking his teeth into one of the whiter mainstream Christian sects. His audience would eat it up.

Posted by: Boolaboola on August 30, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

On Saturday (named for that famous God, Saturn), Glen Beck sowed the seeds of (Dick) Armageddon.

In the coming times, Catholic will fall upon Jew, Muslim on Mormon, Baptist upon Buddhist, Evangelical upon whomever is handy.

Armed with scriptural verses and sticks and stones and the jawbone of an ass, the bloodbath will once and for all show the unbelievers, agnostic and atheist alike, just how serious the faithful are about their religions.

We can only hope. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 30, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK
Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values.

Have these people ever read a history book? Even once?

The first colony in the Not-Actually-New World was a money-making enterprise, not some bastion of religious freedom.

The guys who put together our founding documents were primarily Deists who sought to use logic and reason to get closer to God. They were not a bunch of Bible thumpers out to set up some Christians-only country.

My point?

When I call wingnuts and Christian conservatives "a bunch of fucking willfully-ignorant idiots," the above is why.

Posted by: Mark D on August 30, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

"While I applaud and agree with many of Glenn Beck's conservative and constitutional views......... but Beck himself daily peppers his broadcasts with Mormon distinctives because he cannot keep his beliefs to himself."

Shorter Brannon Howse:

I applaud Beck for sticking Christian beliefs into politics but why can't Beck keep his personal beliefs to himself?

Posted by: Alrighty Then on August 30, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

"The first colony in the Not-Actually-New World was a money-making enterprise, not some bastion of religious freedom..."

There's an unusual insight into the history of it in Shorto's book The Island at the Center of the World, which argues that much that we consider to be have been the product of British colonialists in America was actually started by the Dutch, and for different reasons. He also persuaded me that we owe a particular debt to a guy named Adriaen van der Donck.

The Dutch on the Hudson had a very different relationship with the locals, as well as the British who more or less surrounded them. Because of what the Dutch were and because of where Manhattan was, it was the first American melting pot where people came from all over and become something new -- and THAT created the dynamic that essentially invented American citizenship.

They did it for profit. It was the best way to make money.

It's a pretty good book; I recommend it.

Posted by: theAmericanist on August 30, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I just don't understand how anyone can be religious. Belief in something that you can't see, touch, hear, or feel is insane. And yet millions have perished from it and millions more will. Wake up folks!

Posted by: buddym on August 30, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist - your knowledge of American history, as expressed, seems focused on specific, largely irrelevant incidents that you want to draw into larger themes. In short, you're lecturing others from a position of knowledge authority that you have not demonstrated.

I have no responsibility help American Muslims do a fucking thing, nor does anyone else reading this blog, nor does anyone on the American left. You're a crackpot.

Posted by: Rathskeller on August 30, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

"I just don't understand how anyone can be religious. Belief in something that you can't see, touch, hear, or feel is insane. And yet millions have perished from it and millions more will. Wake up folks!"

So true buddym. Millions have perished because others have hijacked religion to justify their greedy objectives or their misguided interpretations.

But millions more have basked in the mystical pleasure of God's love and have discovered truths never known to those who rely strictly on the arm of flesh.

Posted by: Vandal on August 30, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Rat: "I have no responsibility..."

Fixed it for ya.

Posted by: theAmericanist on August 30, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK


Beck should go ape shit over the audacious idea that all religions have a right to experiment in living together.

William Penn must be rolling over in his grave.

Our very foundations as a country are greater than a single religious mind-set.

But we are now going towards simpletons (Palin and Beck are simple).

God help us.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on August 30, 2010 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Beck/Palin 2012!
Psychosis we can believe in!

Posted by: josef on August 30, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK
I have no responsibility help American Muslims do a fucking thing, because I only help people Just Like Me>

Fixed for great accuracy!!

Oh, and last I checked, no one is asking your worthless ass to help with anything. Other than amusing us with your idiocy.

That you're doing quite well.

Posted by: Mark D on August 30, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I love the comments from this article. It does nothing but show how truly ignorant people are. America, historically speaking, treated Mormonism despicably. And Catholics. And Irish people. Italians. Chinese. Communists. The list goes on.

The point is that as long as someone can be blamed for all of the social ills of the time, will be. It just so happens now that Glen Beck is putting the spotlight (I hope inadvertently) on Mormonism again, making this the second incident of Mormon persecution in American history.

Keep it up, super-evangelical right-wingers. Persecute away, and show us all how TRUE Christians should act.

p.s. I am a Mormon and I live in Arizona. Does that make me the worst of the baby-eating racists?

Posted by: raffers on August 30, 2010 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

While I do not follow GB, Cleon Skousen provided a unique contribution to LDS society.

Posted by: Greg on August 30, 2010 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you for giving some light to this misery known as Fox News' s Glenn Beck.
His weekend endeavor was very clearly a study in , and a definitely clear call for white supremacy.
We all heard the whistles. And shame on him, and on his payee--- Fox News Channel.
This simpleton so recently overrun with religiousity, this Glenn Beck....we know he previously had called America under Obama "The Planet of the Apes."

I distrust any so-called religious conversion on the part of this man.

Glenn Beck and his minions clearly tried to steal the legacy of Martin Luther King...

A seemingly impressive writer, Pierre Tristam, scribing for a Florida Newspaper, referred to Beck's outing as A National Association For The Advancement Of White People....

Posted by: Joanne, bolder out east on August 30, 2010 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Beck's religious awakening will end with his full appreciation of another, older religious belief system--Karma. Won't be pretty.

Posted by: Sparko on August 30, 2010 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

What's really going on here has very little to do with "false gospels" or whether or not "Mormonism" is a cult. (We're getting really close to Pot/Kettle territory here.) What the real issue is that the evangelicals see Mr. Beck horning in on their side of the street: "Hey, those are our pigeons you're trying to pluck."

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on August 31, 2010 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Murdoch and the Kochs...
These are the enemies of a democratic America
Posted by: koreyel on August 30, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Don't forget...
Richard Mellon Scaife (of Arkansas Project fame);
Harold Simmons, T Boone Pickens, Bob Perry, and the Wyly brothers (funded Swift Boat Liars);
Trevor Rees-Jones, Bradley Wayne Hughes, and Robert Rowling (funding KKKarl Rove's new "grassroots" American Crossroads);
and Roger Stone (more important for his Rovian sleazy tricks than for donating dollars; he organized the "Brooks Bros Riot" in the Florida recount, and was the one who dimed out Gov Spitzer's "involvement" -- the word the media uniformly used at the time; notice that word has never been used w/ Sen Vitter -- in a "prostitution ring").

If this kind of thing interests anyone (it's fascinating, but scary), here are a few useful resources:





Posted by: smartalek on August 31, 2010 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK



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