Mixed Reactions to Beck’s Religious Rally

I spent the weekend trying a sense of just how the Religious Right is responding to Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, but haven’t seen any sort of dominant narrative emerge.  Instead, it has mostly been a mish-mash of vague statements and generalities. 

Jim Garlow asserted that the theme of the weekend’s events was quite obvious: a call to decency and a return to God:

For starters, a call to decency reigned. Not some bland, gray, boring form of mundane living, but rather the centuries-old respectable virtues that gave us the America we now enjoy.

Sometime around 1960, morals jumped off the bridge without first attaching the bungee cord. The result is a nation with everything from devastated families, drug- and crime-infested communities to a hedonistically driven national debt.

America, by margins of 70 percent to 80 percent believe in the values that made us, whether it be in maintaining “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or “In God We Trust” on our coins. Americans have grown weary of the oligarchic cultural elite oppressing the masses.

To discerning persons, the rally was not about Glenn Beck. It was not about Sarah Palin. This rally was about freedom, honor, our American heritage, and sacrifice. And foundationally, it was about God.

But the best Deacon Keith Fournier could come up with was to blast the media while claiming that those who attended the event left with hope and encouragement:

Clearly, Glenn Beck’s dreams for a Rally which could “restart the heart of America” exceeded all expectations. Even the Press, which for days leading up to the event had minimized, mocked and trivialized the event, immediately began to acknowledge its massive size and possible significance. Then, they quickly regrouped and the punditry began all over again. I imagine the implications of the event will be fodder for much pontificating for weeks. However, any honest reporter must admit that this was clearly an historic event.

The people who gathered in the Capitol on August 28, 2010, from all over the Nation and representing a wide cross section of the people of the United States of America, left filled with hope, encouraged and challenged to serve and participate.That can only be good for what ails this Nation.

For his part Ralph Reed responded by accusing the media of missing the point about the rally by focusing on Beck’s Mormon faith:

The evangelicals participating in the Restore Honor event are not endorsing Glenn Beck’s theology, nor is he asking them to; they are joining in his clarion call to restore America’s honor and founding principles. Together, we and millions of our fellow citizens are calling America back to its Judeo-Christian values of faith, hard work, individual initiative, the centrality of marriage and family, hope, charity, and relying on God and civic and faith-based organizations rather than government for our security and prosperity.

We have always partnered with those with whom we had theological differences: the Jewish community in defending the state of Israel, Roman Catholics in defending life, Mormons in defending marriage. The media can’t have it both ways. Either evangelicals are theologically narrow and judgmental, or they are just as politically sophisticated and mature and capable of building coalitions with 80% friends who they do not view as 20% enemies. It seems they get criticized no matter what they do.

Of course, one of the reasons the media is asking questions about the pairing of evangelical leaders with Beck is because people on the right keep making a big deal about it:

Glenn Beck promotes a false gospel. However, many of his political ideas can help America.

Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. Mormonism is not a Christian denomination but a cult of Christianity.

The country needs to get back to the simplicity of the Bible. The reason our country is in bad shape is that ministers for the most part do not share the truth. Many endorse false gospels including Mormonism.

In fact, I think this “Prayer Point” in Faith 2 Action’s latest email pretty much sums up the tension among the Religious Right between wanting to be a part of Beck’s new religious crusade while worrying that Christians are being misled by Beck’s faith:

Pray for all those involved in the large rally being held at the Lincoln Memorial tomorrow. Pray that many will learn about our nation’s true heritage and that no one will be deceived into joining the Mormons. Pray that Glenn Beck will leave Mormonism and come to true salvation in Christ.