It may seem too obvious to be said, but let’s say it. Beck’s claim that his event was nonpolitical doesn’t pass the smell test, the laugh test, or any other test. He picked Sarah Palin to speak just because she’s a military mom, not because she’s the darling of the Tea Party movement, right?
Alveda King, who invoked “Uncle Martin” repeatedly with her own “I have a dream” speech (let’s just say his version’s place in history is secure), used her remarks to press two of her major political projects, criminalizing abortion and denying equality to gay and lesbian Americans, decrying that “the procreative foundation of marriage is being threatened, and the wombs of our mothers have become places where the blood of our children is shed in a womb war that threatens the fabric of our society.” King said we will know we have arrived “when prayer is once again welcomed in the public squares of America and in our schools,” which is standard Religious Right rhetoric.
Beck says God led him away from a political message to a focus on faith, hope, and charity. Beck’s faith award went to Pastor C.L. Jackson, whose long ministry as a preacher is only part of his record. Jackson is also a Republican Party activist. A Texas Freedom Network report described him as “Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s point man in drawing African-American voters in Houston.” In 2004, Jackson bragged to Tavis Smiley about having helped deliver those votes to Perry and pledged to do the same for George W. Bush in Louisiana, Alabama, and Ohio. Among the reasons he cited were “family values” and same-sex marriage. In June of that year, Jackson hosted a Juneteenth celebration featuring Perry and David Barton, whose Christian-nation view of history is getting a huge new audience thanks to Beck.
Jackson’s praise for Beck was remarkable. He called him “servant of God, son of God, Glenn Beck,” and said “God sent his son to this earth so that we could all gather, and I think that’s the dream and the vision of Glenn Beck.” He seemingly compared Beck to Jesus when, telling the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet , he urged the audience to “pray, give the best you have for a young man named Glenn Beck.”
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, reportedly a pal of Karl Rove and Tom Delay, is another strange choice for a non-political event. (His record
of funneling money through his nonprofit foundation to aid his buddy Abramoff may also make him an odd choice for an event devoted to honor.) Lapin, long the Religious Right’s favorite rabbi, was on stage at both the Friday night “Divine Destiny” event and along with a small group of other religious figure, helping to give the event a veneer of religious pluralism.
In the clumsiest effort to give a nod to religious pluralism, a speaker at Renewing Honor followed a song promoting unity by saying, “we are Americans and we stand together, black, white, Jew, Gentile, together in unity as one strong group of people, Americans today in the name of Christ.”