Right Wing Watch has been watching the recent morphing of Glenn Beck from political hatchet man into messianic religious figure. That self-transformation continued at America’s Divine Destiny, the Friday night warm-up to Beck’s Lincoln Memorial rally. The three-hour program at the Kennedy Center for the Arts combined gospel music, patriotic songs, and speeches about the need for spiritual renewal in America.
It is impossible to overstate Beck’s assessment of the importance of his events. Toward the beginning of Divine Destiny, he stated , “this is the beginning of the end of darkness. We have been in darkness a long time.” Saturday’s rally, he said, would be a “defibrillator to the spiritual heart of America.” Near the end of the program, he emphatically declared, “We are 12 hours away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America. It has nothing to do with this city or politics, it has everything to do with God Almighty.”
Beck’s co-host for the evening event was David Barton, the Religious Right “historian” who has
made a career promoting his theory that America was founded as a “Christian nation.” Beck is clearly enamored of Barton, having recently called him “the most important man in America.” Beck introduced Barton to the Divine Destiny audience as “the best man I know.”
Barton’s primary role at tonight’s event was to tell stories and wave copies of old books and sermons to make the case that the nation’s founding documents were cribbed from Christian sermons, and that Jewish and Christian leaders have since the nation’s founding banded together to fight those who would secularize America. Barton referred to the conflict with the Barbary pirates in the early 19th century as the first time “we had Muslims targeting us.”
For anyone who has followed Barton’s long career as a propagandist for the Republican Party in Texas and nationally, his Christian nation rhetoric was no surprise. But it was nothing short of breathtaking to hear Barton repeating “that’s right” when Beck said that “religion and politics must not mix.”
Beck asserted more than once that the weekend was not a political event, no matter what his cynical critics said. That assertion is laughable given the relentlessly political nature of his television show and Barton’s entire career, not to mention Beck’s reliance on the Tea Party movement to turn out attendees for his rally. Among the other speakers was Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a fixture at Religious Right political events, and college professor Dr. Patrick Lee, who argued that America has no right to alter the “objective” definition of marriage.
The closing prayer was given by Pastor John Hagee, whose accepted-and-then-rejected endorsement of John McCain became an embarrassment to the candidate in 2008. Among the nation’s sins for which Hagee asked forgivness was that “under the banner of pluralism we have embraced and worshipped the gods of this world.” Hagee said that scripture commands us to pray for the nation’s leaders, and he prayed that God would lead us “out of this politically correct moral fog” and back to the righteousness of our forefathers by lifting up godly leaders and removing the not-so-godly from office. A fitting send-off for this completely non-political event.