Southern Baptists say Beck is no Christian, either

WASHINGTON — Glenn Beck is a talented huckster, a shrewd survivor who may be in the middle of another self-reinvention. This time, he seems bent on remaking himself as one of the oldest of the stock all-American characters: the Elmer Gantry-like preacher-performer.

Last weekend, Beck held a rally on the National Mall, “Restoring Honor,” calling the nation back to what he sees as its traditional Christian roots. Beck gets a lot of things wrong, including history. Moreover, he’s an odd spokesman for conservative Christianity, since he’s Mormon.

But never mind all that. One of this country’s many charms is its capacity to weave an assortment of eccentrics into its cultural fabric without being ripped apart by their bizarre sentiments. If the country survived the pronouncements of Father Charles Coughlin — a Roman Catholic priest whose 1930s-era radio show reverberated with praise for Hitler and noxious attacks on Jews — it can survive Beck’s pseudo-theology.

Still, there are dangers for those mainstream Republicans who tack too closely to Beck’s currents. Sarah Palin will hardly be damaged by her appearance as one of Beck’s featured speakers on Saturday, since she is already one of the most polarizing figures in national politics. Her approval rating hovers in the mid-30s.

But other prominent Republicans who hope to maintain political respectability should beware of him. Beck’s demagoguery is corrosive.

Take his latest smear, an ugly attack on President Obama’s religious beliefs. “Most Christians don’t recognize (Obama’s) version of Christianity,” Beck told Fox News interviewer Chris Wallace after the rally.

That sort of rancid dismissal of the religious beliefs of liberal-leaning public figures has been a tactic of the religious right since the 1970s, but I had believed (or had hoped) it was dying away after Republicans overused their holier-than-thou, family-values playbook in the Karl Rove era. A catalog of sexual scandals involving conservative politicians made it clear that their private behavior was no more pure for all their public piousness. The GOP seemed willing to drop the religion card.

But the opportunity to paint President Obama as “the other” has proved too great to pass up. As Islamophobia rises and the rightwing noise machine echoes with its nsistence that Obama is Muslim, GOP luminaries exploit the frenzy for short-term political gain.

In an on-air interview, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave the most tepid support possible to Obama’s religious identity. “The president says he’s a Christian. I take him at his word,” McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  McConnell surely remembers the criticism Obama endured in 2008 over the sermons of his then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who headed a United Church of Christ in Chicago. Yet, he intentionally signaled room for doubt about Obama’s religion.

McConnell and other conservatives play that hand at their peril. As they anticipate a hard-fought presidential campaign in 2012, one of the GOP’s most able contenders is likely to be Mitt Romney, a Mormon. The former Massachusetts governor was handicapped by religious prejudices in 2008, as many Christian conservatives, dismissing Mormonism as a “cult,” refused to support him. Does McConnell mean to stir up those prejudices?

Beck, by the way, has also been subjected to harsh appraisals by Christian fundamentalists. His rally had barely ended before Russell Moore, a dean at Louisville’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, denounced it, along with the conservative Christians who attended. “Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Moore wrote.

Beck likely doesn’t care; his bank account (and his ego) will only grow larger as a result of the attention. But he has stirred the winds of religious bigotry, and the GOP may reap the whirlwind.

693 comments Add your comment

Bob

September 1st, 2010
7:45 am

And now we care what Christians think, what a phoney.

granny godzilla

September 1st, 2010
7:49 am

May I recommend that every body watch the movie “A Face in the Crowd”

“This whole country is like my flock of sheep, Red Necks, Crackers, HillBillies, House Fraus, Shut ins, Pea pickers….everybody who’s got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle”

Beck is blowing the whistle, will you jump?

Jack

September 1st, 2010
7:51 am

Beck for president.

JohnnyReb

September 1st, 2010
7:53 am

The regret on all the questioning of Obama is not that it occurs now, but that more Americans didn’t do it before they voted him POTUS.

Bubba

September 1st, 2010
8:01 am

What’s the big deal? You don’t have to be a Christian to support their causes. Michael Medved is a Jew, yet he frequently speaks for pro-Christian causes. Hector Berlioz was an agnostic, yet he so admired Christianity that he composed Le Enfance du Christ.

Peadawg

September 1st, 2010
8:02 am

Romney vs. Obama
a Mormon vs. a Liberal

If that’s who we have to chose from….Yikes!

J. Kase

September 1st, 2010
8:03 am

Let me get this straight, the Southern Baptist says someone not affiliated with their religion isn’t Christian enough. And Beck questions Obama on his Christian-hood. Old news, growing up a Catholic, we were told those not involved in our religion weren’t Christian enough and would not be saved. Now the Catholics break bread with all other religious denominations. Who would have thought religion would be brought into politics?

resno2

September 1st, 2010
8:07 am

‘talented huckster’ = obama

Heaven forbid that a Southern Baptist point out a fault in one who is obviously religiously inferior.

uga_b

September 1st, 2010
8:07 am

Cynthia, did you see the Salon article about his radio career reinvention and shenanigans?

jt

September 1st, 2010
8:08 am

“This whole country is like my flock of sheep, Red Necks, Crackers, HillBillies, House Fraus, Shut ins, Pea pickers….everybody who’s got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle”

People,……………Wear these rascist slanders with pride.

It only shows that the “progressive” left has lost the arguement.

jconservative

September 1st, 2010
8:09 am

Sitting on the stage behind Beck was John Hagee who during the 2008 election denounced the Mormon Church as an unchristian cult.

Bob

September 1st, 2010
8:11 am

We need to ask Tom Coburn what he thinks.

Van Jones

September 1st, 2010
8:11 am

“Glenn Beck is a talented huckster…” Now you have lowered yourself to name calling? Maybe it’s time for a vacation.

Wow, that's Pulitzer material

September 1st, 2010
8:12 am

Ms. Tucker,

First let me commend you on deviating from your normal copy and paste columns. This piece is actually interesting and thought provoking, not that you care what I think.

However, whether you like it or not, the majority of our population claims to be of Christian faith through one sect or another. The “Religion Card” as you put it, will most certainly play a large role with a large percentage of voters.

The President’s public image with regard to religion, is his own fault. His proclomations are not on the same page as the majority of voters that actually care about religion.

Beck being a Morman may offend some Christians; but, his desire to return the country back to our Christian roots strikes a harmonious chord with most Christians as they don’t like the direction of the current government.

Trying to debunk Beck because of his beliefs has not succeeded in reducing his impact upon the public; he often makes a good point.

granny godzilla

September 1st, 2010
8:12 am

jt

let me give you a hint……it’s from a movie script.

shows the conservatives don’t think

Dave

September 1st, 2010
8:13 am

The correct term is Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or LDS.

quod erat demonstrandum

September 1st, 2010
8:14 am

I see, we are now focusing on the messenger and not the message.

How typical of the far left.

granny godzilla

September 1st, 2010
8:16 am

qed

sometimes the messenger is part of the problem….

missing that is typical of the radical right

Willis

September 1st, 2010
8:16 am

I have written Senators Chambliss and Isaakson to recommend they sponsor a bill in the Senate to declare another national holiday to be named Glen Beck Day. The day would be to honor Beck since he restored honor to our country and also took our country back. In addition, I have written the U.S. Postal Service to ask they issue a postage stamp to honor Glenn Beck – he is right up there with all the other patriots who have been so honored.

Will you also write the Senators expressing your support for a national holiday to honor our beloved Beck?

Peadawg

September 1st, 2010
8:19 am

“sometimes the messenger is part of the problem….”

Ya we saw that last night during during the 18 minute speech.

08fx4

September 1st, 2010
8:20 am

Ummm … Did I not read an article from you a few weeks ago questioning the importance of one’s religion ? I guess that only applies when people question Obama’s religious background.

You cannot deny that this country was founded on Christian principals, whether you are a christian or not does change the foundation of our country.

Randy

September 1st, 2010
8:21 am

He is probably more of a christian than you are columnist. He has more points to talk about than race which is 99.99% of all your columns.

quod erat demonstrandum

September 1st, 2010
8:21 am

Granny, I must strenuously disagree.

Who would have followed a poor struggling lawyer, try Gandhi.
The messenger is nothing more than a delivery platform, listen to what is said – there is an old book, some know of it, it says, by your fruits you will be judged. For those in midtown, it means results mean more than a pretty appearance.

An empty suit is just that, nice to look at, but has nothing to offer. Sorry Mr. Obama.

ctucker

September 1st, 2010
8:21 am

Wow@8:12, You wrote: “Beck’s) desire to return the country back to our Christian roots strikes a harmonious chord with most Christians as they don’t like the direction of the current government.”

What do the nation’s so-called Christian roots have to do with the “direction of the current government”? What does opposition to health care reform have to do with conservative Christianity?

ctucker

September 1st, 2010
8:22 am

Yes, jconservative@8:09, Interesting bedfellows, huh?

A Realist

September 1st, 2010
8:22 am

Thanks Cynthia for your comments. I guess religion doesn’t matter……unless you run for president, right? I thought when you become president of the United States, I didn’t know you were president of a certain religion.

ctucker

September 1st, 2010
8:23 am

uga-b@8:07, Yes, I read it with fascination, particularly the part where he told a colleague that he was the sun that everybody else had to revolve around.

gmaye

September 1st, 2010
8:23 am

When will you stupid Conservatives do a background check on Beck, I did. This man is no Christian.

Beck, just barely finish high school, spent years on drugs, radio Dj at night clubs. He attracts the undedcated who can not research for themself, this man made 35 million last year off of these trailor trash, by having them believe that goverment is the enemy.

These are the same folks who draw unemployment, Va checks, medicare from the Government.

Honest Broker

September 1st, 2010
8:24 am

They will always let you know of whom they are scared.

granny godzilla

September 1st, 2010
8:25 am

qrd

beck is the messenger and the message.
check the chalkboard

Ghandi’s name is ill used when brought into a conversation on Glenn Beck.

Peter Litwin

September 1st, 2010
8:25 am

Beck is an opportunist, just like flash-in-the-pan liberal opportunists, no more, no less. We have two political camps in this country, and as the old saying goes, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” It’s a persistent struggle between the two camps to win and maintain squatting rights. Leaders and members of neither party really care a hoot about public service and doing what’s best for the people; it’s all about establishing a personal income. Politicians make me sick.

WestSider

September 1st, 2010
8:25 am

Wow…comparing Glenn Beck to Father Coughlin…THAT’S original!

I swear…the DNC must have a magic radio that blasts out talking points to their myrmidons. I guess Cynthia’s has a five or six month lag though because this nonsense started back in the Spring.

This shows the utter and sad desperation that is overcoming the American Left…they have no principles to stand on, only pathetic attempts to smear those who they see as promoting a successful message.

The final throes of this tantrum will be to trot out the ‘racist’ label…oh wait, they already have.

Spellcheck

September 1st, 2010
8:26 am

Surely there is a spellcheck button somewhere on everyone’s computer at the AJC? nsistence? I expect a little better from a Pulitzer prize winner….

“Islamophobia rises and the rightwing noise machine echoes with its nsistence that Obama is Muslim, GOP luminaries exploit the frenzy for short-term political gain.”

joe

September 1st, 2010
8:26 am

Anyone who accepts Jesus as God is a Christian and there are way too many denominations that put their own “spin” on it (whether he is God or the Son of God, etc). So under that definition, Beck is a Christian. However, Southern Baptists and everyone else of faith, shouldn’t be infighting. They should rally together against things that may affect the stability of our country…illegal immigration, socialism, the current administration, etc.

quod erat demonstrandum

September 1st, 2010
8:27 am

gmaye,

Big deal, he has already said that during his radio and TV shows. If you had listened, he would have told you of his trip to the bottom and his uphill crawl back to sanity.

But, I waste my breath on you.

J. Kase

September 1st, 2010
8:27 am

Miss Tucker;

You have confused me today, this whole Beck thing is soooo last weekend and old news. With the president last night pronouncing that the Iraq war is now in the rear view mirror and now he’ll get at the problematic economy, I figured all would be nice now. With no more war the 50 thousand pairs of boots still on the ground wouldn’t have to worry any longer, because now they won’t be in harm’s way. Happy days are here again.

Nunya

September 1st, 2010
8:28 am

CNN ran about 5 minutes of his speech complete with text on the screen. I was transfixed because he rambled on. wandered, and digressed as if someone had shuffled his five word
index cards. He was inane, a complete buffoon. I could envision supporters slinking off through the mob putting on their Grouch noses as they went..

MiltonMan

September 1st, 2010
8:29 am

Yes, the Democrats are such a loving, tolerant group that accepts everyone to their fold just ask John Cusak.

Also, a question for you Liberals/Progressives who always preach about seperation of church & state. How come you bi-polar types have not expressed your “concerns” about taxpayers paying for a muslim cleric to travel to the Middle-East or that taxpayer money has been approved to build the mosque in New York?

barking frog

September 1st, 2010
8:31 am

If you read the Book of Mormon it appears that Joseph
Smith LDS may have been using LSD.

MiltonMan

September 1st, 2010
8:31 am

Bush = Mission Accomplished

Obama = Major Combat operations are over in Iraq

Both moronic statements.

I'm Here From The Government And I'm Here To Help

September 1st, 2010
8:32 am

ctucker puts foot in mouth again. Her Beck obsession is getting funnier by the day!

Metro Coach

September 1st, 2010
8:33 am

“Still, there are dangers for those mainstream Republicans who tack too closely to Beck’s currents.” Kind of like how having the President campaign for Democratic nominees is dangerous, right Cynthia? Has any candidate he actively campaigned for won? You could exchange every “Glenn Beck” for “Barack Obama” and every “Republican” or “conservative” for “Democrat” and “liberal” and write the exact same article about Barack Obama. Of course, being the progressive liberal you are, you live in a constant state of hypocritic irony.

I'm Here From The Government And I'm Here To Help

September 1st, 2010
8:33 am

Back to “real” news of the day. No parade but its’ over in Iraq. LOL :)

RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 1, 2010 – The war in Iraq is over and the United States is entering the final phase of the U.S. engagement in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today.

U.S. combat operations have ceased, the secretary said. American forces are still participating in some counterinsurgency operations with the Iraqis, and they are training and advising and assisting Iraqi forces, but the United States is not at war in Iraq.

Wow, that's Pulitzer material

September 1st, 2010
8:33 am

Calling the “Right” radical is typical of the left. This country was founded by God fearing conservatives , and has been pushed to the left by Godless progressives. Radical= tends to want extreme change from the normal. If any group is radical it’s the liberals as they are trying to change the existing views to their views.

liberal=nonconventional
conservative=conventional

uga_b

September 1st, 2010
8:34 am

“Cocaine is a helluva drug” – Rick James

RIP

quod erat demonstrandum

September 1st, 2010
8:35 am

Question,

If Beck is such a buffoon, why are the lefties and progressive wetting themselves because of him?

Oh, wait, the public (uneducated, unwashed, dumb-dumbs that do not understand how great our leaders are) likes him.

WAR

September 1st, 2010
8:35 am

can you all stop saying this country was founded on christian principles by founding fathers who were christian? please! many of the founding fathers were deists, congregationalist, or constitutionalist which means they either believed in God, creator, or higher being other than themselves. they also despised the power that religion had on the people and how religious zealots used politics to control the masses (remember: the puritans and why they left england). the claims these were all or the majority christian founding fathers is not true… it just makes for good conversation

lmno

September 1st, 2010
8:36 am

No, Glen Beck is not a Christian. Glen Beck is a member of the LDS which teaches that Jesus came to america after being resurected. It also teaches of a whole history of life on this Continent prior to that. It teaches that dark skinned people exist due to people turning from God. They have shifted as far as they can from their controversial teachings like polygamy, in order to achieve main stream acceptance.

But I don’t even believe that Glen Beck is a Mormon. His ideas on faith are those that are taught at Alcoholics Anonymous. Listen to his speech, and then compare what he says to the things your wierd cousin who used to be a drunk and now is just wierd says.

Union

September 1st, 2010
8:36 am

im still waiting for the backup to the title.. “Southern Baptists say Beck is no Christian, either” who said that? as i would imagine that several “southern baptist” attended his rally or watch/listen to beck.. wouldn’t your blog title be more truthful if it were “some southern baptists say beck is no christian?” or at this point.. are we taking any semblance of accuracy and tossing it out the window?

I'm Here From The Government And I'm Here To Help

September 1st, 2010
8:37 am

Claiming no victory, President Barack Obama formally ended the U.S. combat role in Iraq after seven long years of bloodshed, declaring firmly Tuesday night: “It’s time to turn the page BACKWARD.”

What a leader or a joke?