A prayer meeting called “The Response” attracted 30,000 plus to Reliant Stadium in Houston on August 6th, 2011. The rally, initiated by Governor Rick Perry of Texas, was billed as non-political, though other similar rallies were planned in Iowa, Florida and Arizona, all coinciding with early Republican primaries in those states. Exactly one week to the day after the Houston rally, Governor Perry announced his intent to pursue the presidency of the United States. Perry also attended The Response rally in South Carolina, just days before that state’s crucial primary.
After a poor South Carolina showing, Perry dropped out of the race and did not attend the Response Rally in Florida held the week before that state’s primary. Former Baptist pastor, Mike Huckabee, had received criticism for mentioning that he was a Christian leader in a TV commercial in 2008 and broadcasting another Christmas commercial with a subliminal cross supposedly in the background. Ron Paul even implied that Huckabee was a fascist and criticized him for “wrapping himself in the flag”, yet hardly a word was said by any Republicans about Perry’s use of these rallies as a platform to promote his campaign or the commercials and mailing ads which were also chock full of references to his faith and Christianity.
Perry even spoke at a rally in South Carolina, just before a debate in Myrtle Beach, suggesting his campaign might help bring about a spiritual revival:
Don’t let the voices of secularism in government silence your voices. Together we can build more than just a winning campaign. We can bring about the next great awakening in this world, and we can make America more than just the freest and the most prosperous nation on the earth, but as Ronald Reagan said, we can again make it that shining city on the hill.
Taking Back the Country
A favorite chant of whichever political party is out of power is that “come next election—watch out!—we are going to take our country back” from the evil forces who have “taken over the country.” Some form of the phrase has been used by Howard Dean, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Hillary Clinton, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and President Barack Obama, to name just a few.
Most of the time, this kind of rhetoric is used to shore up the candidate’s base of support. Think of it as “hitting the panic button.” It is a lot easier to rake in the political dough and get out the vote if you have convinced your followers that they are about to lose their country. Therefore, any candidate who uses this line should be asked what he or she means by the phrase. Who owns the country? Are you implying that your opponents weren’t democratically elected? If you suddenly claimed to take ownership of the country, wouldn’t you expect your political opponent to be up in arms about it?
An “us vs. them” mentality has developed among politically active Christians. Everything bad that has happened to us is the fault of “them”, usually meaning Democrats or liberals. Sad to say, it has resulted in dividing our families and nation up into political factions. This is not a Christian attitude. Indeed, the Bible is clear that while there are enemies of the church, these are motivated by doctrinal and religious differences, not primarily political ones.
For the Christian, this raises even more important questions: “Doesn’t God own the country?” “When did Christians ever own the country?” and “How do Christians go about taking back their country from unbelievers?” “Is this a Christian Nation, and what are the implications if it is not?”
In the introduction of his book, Why Government Can’t Save You, Pastor John MacArthur expresses his concern that Christians are going about this whole cultural transformationalism thing the wrong way. He writes:
Imagine what the world must think of our God. Do we think Him so weak and incapable of caring for us that we prefer using protests and political pressure rather than the spiritual resources He offers? And do we believe He has lost control and we have to get it back for Him?
One way popular historian David Barton attempts to makes the case that we are a Christian nation is by using the lives of the founders; but arguing this way is of no help if in his very arguments he denies the true gospel. It might be easy to side with Barton against the skeptics who would deny our Christian heritage, except that Barton tends to minimize the obvious influence of Deism and Unitarianism on the founders and the Republic they established. To make matters worse, he refuses to distinguish between Christianity and Mormonism, lending considerably less credibility to his claims about the founders being Christians:
It has always been interesting to me throughout my political and religious life that many Christians seem more intent on whacking allies than enemies… I have watched the Christian debate surrounding Glenn Beck’s religious beliefs devolve not to a consideration of him individually but rather to label him with a group identity. That is, folks repeatedly say, “Since Mormons believe XYZ, then Beck therefore also believes XYZ.” That’s as ill-informed as to say that since redheads are universally known to have a temper, then if you are an individual redhead, you have a personal problem with anger. Absurd! Such a statement rejects the principle of individual identity and replaces it with group identity, which is not Biblical.
Barton seems to ignore the frequent opportunities Beck takes to either promote Mormon doctrines or affirm that he agrees with those doctrines. No one is putting words in his mouth. Glenn Beck chose Mormonism, it did not choose him. The bigger problem with the Barton defense of Beck’s professed Christianity is that it denies the scores of passages that warn the Christian of false gods, false religions and false prophets. Here is just a small sampling:
Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Jeremiah 14:14
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew 7:15
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. II Corinthians 11:13
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. II Peter 2:1
The Crux of the Matter
What is crucial here is not whether Glenn Beck is personally a Christian. Ultimately, that question is left to God. We cannot see the heart. Sadly, however, that has not stopped many leading evangelicals from telling us that Beck is a Christian. Joining David Barton have been many prominent evangelicals, and it is no coincidence that all are highly involved in politics. Jim Garlow, pastor of the huge Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, CA, was instrumental (along with the Mormon church), in getting Proposition 8 passed in California. This bill defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Garlow, along with Baptist leader Richard Land and evangelist-turned political activist James Robison, seems mesmerized with Glenn Beck, hanging on his every word in order to affirm the legitimacy of Beck’s faith:
On one of his TV shows about a month ago, he laid out the gospel, using his well-known blackboard, in the clearest explanation of the crucifixion and the resurrection that I have ever heard on national TV. I called James Robison, and asked, “Did you hear that?” James said, “Richard Land (Southern Baptist) just called me and said he never expected to hear the Gospel so clear on secular television.” It was quite remarkable. A few days ago, Glenn laid out America’s problems and then concluded, “We need God!”
These leaders and many others appear unable to resist Beck’s fame, political accomplishments and the lure of his radio and television platform. He often brings them onto his show to promote their books and other projects, which are then often lavished with praise by Beck. The Scriptures warn us that “A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet” (Proverbs 29:5). Garlow implies that meeting the talk show host was unrelated to the following public praise he had made about Beck:
Candidly, I made a statement publicly about three months ago, before I ever knew I would even meet Glenn Beck. The statement was (as nearly as I can reconstruct it from memory): “If this nation collapses in the 2010-2012 time frame, historians will have to report, if they are honest, that American (sic) fell because of silent pastors and inactive pews. If, on the other hand, this nation is saved from self-destruction in the 2010-2012 timeframe, those same historians will have to report that one of the major reasons for the turnaround was Glenn Beck.” That was before I had ever been with him. I had no idea that two days later, I would receive a call to come meet with him. I still believe that. Glenn Beck is being used by God – mightily.
Garlow proceeded to minimize Beck’s Mormonism, implying that he was less committed to that religion than his wife, and that apparent public statements affirming Mormonism should be accepted with a grain of salt. Garlow is deceived on this point, but I think it shows that even among the compromisers there is some hope that their eyes will eventually be opened.
 Why Government Can’t Save You: An Alternative to Political Activism by John MacArthur (2000) Word: Nashville
 Both “crux” and “crucial” come from the Latin word for cross or torture. What precious providence that God would preserve in English a reminder of the centrality of the Cross of Christ.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.