Back before the holidays, I came across a press release on Christian Newswire from Steve McConkey of Underground Apologetics blasting Focus on the Family for posting a short interview with Glenn Beck about his new book “The Christmas Sweater.” McConkey was outraged that Focus dared to post the interview without mentioning that Beck is Mormon and that “Mormonism is a cult”:
While Glenn’s social views are compatible with many Christian views, his beliefs in Mormonism are not. Clearly, Mormonism is a cult. The CitizenLink story does not mention Beck’s Mormon faith, however, the story makes it look as if Beck is a Christian who believes in the essential doctrines of the faith.
Through the years, Focus on the Family has done great things to help the family and has brought attention to the many social ills that are attacking the family.
However, to promote a Mormon as a Christian is not helpful to the cause of Jesus Christ. For Christians to influence society, Christians should be promoting the central issues of the faith properly without opening the door to false religions.
At the time, I ignored the press release because it seemed like just another example of a relatively unknown and unimportant fringe right-wing figure trying to gin up some press for himself … but it turns out that McConkey’s gripes apparently had more influence than I had realized as Focus subsequently pulled the interview from its website:
James Dobson’s Focus on the Family ministry has pulled from its CitizenLink Web site an article about talk show host Glenn Beck’s book “The Christmas Sweater” after some complained that Beck’s LDS faith is a “cult” and “false religion” and shouldn’t be promoted by a Christian ministry.
When contacted Friday, a Focus on the Family worker at the ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo. confirmed that the article had been pulled …
For his part Beck is none-too-pleased with Focus’s “censorship” while the organization insists that McConkey’s attack had nothing to do with its decision to yank the article:
Focus on the Family got to work this week in explaining in detail why it pulled from its website an interview with a Mormon author.
“We intended no insult,” expressed ministry spokesman Gary Schneeberger, in a statement. “[W]e merely miscalculated on how best to feature Glenn [Beck], whom we greatly appreciate.”
Beck, however, maintains that the book’s message can be and has been embraced by people of different faiths and should not be “censored” because of his own personal religious views. The book tells the narrative of a boy named Eddie who embarks on a dark and painful journey on the road to manhood.
“The Christmas Sweater is a story about the idea of Christmas as a time for redemption and atonement,” Beck expressed in a released statement after the interview was pulled from Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink website.
“Whatever your beliefs about my religion, the concept of religious tolerance is too important to be sacrificed in response to pressure from special interest groups, especially when it means bowing to censorship,” he added.
According to Schneeberger, however, Focus on the Family could not intimate to its evangelical base that the differences in Mormon faith and the historic evangelical faith are inconsequential.
“We can, and do, gladly cooperate with friends outside of the evangelical heritage on common causes; but in no case do we intend to alter our clear distinction as unwaveringly grounded in evangelical theology,” he explained.
But Schneeberger made sure to also distance the ministry from another that had strongly rebuked it for the article’s posting.
“[W]e do not condone the tone of communications put out from UnderGround Apologetics,” he clarified, referring to the controversial apologetics ministry that spoke out against Focus on the Family last week. “And we can without reservation say that the group’s news release had nothing to do with our decision to pull the article from publication.”