I’ve heard it a lot from friends that support Glenn Beck: Come on, Bob! Why are you so upset with Glenn Beck and his “8/28 Restoring Honor” rally on the National Mall in Washington DC? Is it that you are so politically left that you can’t stand a right-winger successfully gathering hundreds of thousands to talk about God and Country?
Even the Huffington Post reports that the “Glenn Beck 'Restoring Honor' Rally Delivers Religious, Not Political Message”. So what’s to criticize about that?
I don’t have a problem with a media celebrity leveraging his or her popularity to advance their political views. I also don’t have a problem with a media celebrity leveraging his or her popularity to advance their religious views. This is America, where everyone is granted the freedom of speech.
But there are huge problems with evangelicals embracing Glenn Beck as a spiritual leader. Beck is very clear: He intended the "9/28 Restoring Honor” not to be a political event but a spiritual one. He talked a lot about how he prayed with people, and he began his main speech by saying, “Lord, speak slowly!”
A commenter on my earlier post, Glenn Beck is a False Prophet, said, “Stop twisting the truth just because you dont believe in the politics that follow a righteous life. Glenn never once promotes Mormonism, just the belief of return to our maker as our founding fathers did.”
Really? I beg to differ.
Glenn Beck’s Mormonism warps his ability to discern myth from truth about America being a “Christian Nation.”
His zeal to “restore honor” to America is directly linked to his Mormon beliefs. At the 8/28 Rally, Beck said,
“The story of America is the story of humankind. 5,000 years ago, on the other side of the planet, God’s chosen people were led out of bondage by a guy with a stick who was talking to a burning bush. Man first started to recognize God and God’s laws. The chosen people listened to the Lord. At the same time those things were happening on this side. On this land, another group of people were gathered here and they too were listening to God. How these two people were brought together, again, happened because people were listening to God. They didn’t have the right to worship God the way they saw fit so they got down on their knees. And they didn't want to come to this land, they just did because they felt that’s what God was telling them to do. And with malice towards none they got into their boats and they came. God’s Chosen People: The Native Americans and the Pilgrims.” (see the video here)
Native Americans and Pilgrims?
The Book of Mormon tells the story that a small band of Israelites under Lehi migrated from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere about 600 B.C. Upon Lehi's death his family divided into two opposing factions, one under Lehi's oldest son, laman (the father of the Lamanites), and the other under a younger son, Nephi (the Nephites). “The Lamanites, from whom many present-day Native Americans descend, remained to inhabit the American continent… The role of Native Americans in the events of the last days is noted by several Book of Mormon prophets.” (Brigham Young University wiki on Native Americans).
Evangelicals might not have caught how Beck slid Mormon theology into his 8/28 speech, but there it is, hidden right under their noses. Why did that sneak by? Perhaps it is because evangelicals have already bought into the myth that the Pilgrims were God’s chosen people to come to America to make this a Christian nation, so they missed the Native American reference.
But the myth that the Native Americans were a tribe of Israel, thus the “Chosen People” of America is just as full of holes as the Pilgrims being God’s Chosen People and that America is some kind of “Promised Land.”
Certainly the Pilgrims saw themselves this way. Pop-historians like David Barton like to quote from the Pilgrims about how they were seeking to create a Christ-centered theocracy in the new world, escaping from the evil bondage of the religious persecution of Europe. Beck is one of these pop-historians, stating that this is proof that God has ordained American as His nation.
But the honest historical and theological question is this: Were the Pilgrims right?