My friend, and huge Glenn Beck fan, Byron Harvey, has been debating me on my last post concerning Glenn Beck and his Mormonism (and how I think that his inability to discern the historical fallacies of Mormonism should give rise to our calling into question Beck's discernment when he touts himself as a great historian).
Byron questioned my take that Beck often gets history wrong.
Glenn Beck's historical inaccuracies are so often, and so subtle, that there could be an entire blog dedicated to it. Every time I watch him, I squirm, because at some point he will do these things. I don't have the time or energy (or interest, to tell the truth) to create such a blog. But I will do this: Let's watch just one clip from the Glenn Beck program and make some observations.
Here are just a few observations.
1. Beck raises up the Massachusetts Colony's Constitution as the bastion of godliness and the true religious beginnings of this country. After quoting it, Beck says, "Today, in that same state, you'd be boiled in your own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through your heart just for thinking such thoughts. And God forbid you bring a Christmas cookie for the other kids at school. That is how far off course we have drifted." Beck fails to mention that, as a Mormon, he most likely would have been banished from the colony, like they banished others they deemed as heretics - Roger Williams, Anne Hutchison and the Quakers. The law of the Massachusetts stated that blasphemy was punishable with death. If the Puritans in Salem burned what they thought were witches, what would they have done to a Mormon?
2. Then Beck has the audacity to preach from the Old Testament about the Exodus. This is what I think gets evangelicals all excited about Beck - "Glenn makes these biblical analogies! You see?! He is one of us!" But they are not considering that Beck is not one of us - he has chosen to be a member of a false religion that twists the gospel of Jesus Christ. His interpretation of the Bible must be taken with circumspect.
For instance, Beck says that God told the Israelites on Mt. Sinai to "just do ten things." Really? Has he read Exodus? What about all those crimes that resulted in the death penalty? "Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death" (21:15), or "Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death" (31:14). What does he do with all those laws? There was a lot more than "just 10 things that they had to do." And to imply that it's that simple to understand the Bible reveals Beck's naivete or his ideological bias (I'll let you decide).
And (this is a pet peeve of mine), is it healthy to compare America to the nation of Israel and the Exodus? This is not good history - it repeats the same mistakes that was going on in some churches at the time of the Revolution. It continues this blasphemy in our day, twisting the gospel away from what it actually is about.
3. Beck then says that the Washington Monument represents what the American Founders' "principles that were embedded everywhere!" He fails to tell us that the Washington Monument wasn't constructed until 1848 (and not finished until 1884). So, what did the founders have to do with the design and construction of the Washington Monument?
Beck is making a case by citing Seals and Monuments. This is just shoddy historical work, isn't it?
Take a look at the real "Great Seal of the United States." It takes its symbolism not from Christian sources but pagan sources. Look at Washington Monument. It is not based on Israelite or Christian architecture, but Egyptian. Look around Washington D.C.: Not only is Moses seen in the artwork and architecture, but also men like Confucius and Solon. There are plenty of pagan statues of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian gods. Maybe what we see “embedded everywhere" is not a favoritism toward a Judeo/Christian founding of the nation, but a respect for all these ancient civilizations.
4. Next, Beck states that Thomas Jefferson wanted the country to have Moses and the Exodus on the National Seal. Certainly, the founders enjoyed using the Exodus for symbolism about their war against England and their escape from tyranny to find freedom. But does this really mean that the history of the Unites States is equivalent to that of Israel in the time of the Exodus?
Beck claims that since Jefferson considered the Exodus for the Seal for the United States, then the "the wall of separation between church and state" is a novel, progressive lie – a concept that was foreign to the founding fathers.
But he is misleading his audience. Anybody with even the simplest education in American history knows that it was Jefferson who coined that phrase in his letter to the Danbury Baptists!
Are we really supposed to buy what Beck is peddling here?
related post: Glenn Beck: The Stormin’ Mormon’s Credentials to Teach History: Christians believe that Glenn Beck is a legitimate historian of American history? Really?