Everybody’s weighed in already on Glenn Beck: Who he is, what he’s attempting to do, why he’s good or bad for our political discourse, etc. So my observations are late, and I, no doubt, will be repeating something someone has already said. But I still feel compelled to give my thoughts on a guy that, love him or hate him, cannot be ignored.

To begin with, Beck is an anti-statist populist, and I view this as a very good thing. The country needs more voices from that perspective. The irony is that Beck’s anti-statist populism is quite tame compared to the anti-statist populism in the late 1960’s exhibited by some of the very folks who hate Beck today. Are Beck’s minions plotting to blow up buildings and bring about revolution by any means other than the voting booth? I don’t think so.

Beck has been, at times, seemingly the only one bringing certain matters to light in the media. Perhaps you think the activities of ACORN or having Van Jones as the “Green Jobs” Czar were good things. Those of us who don’t owe a debt of gratitude to Beck, because we are relatively confident that nobody else in the media would have ever pursued these matters.

He can appear to be a bit of a narcissistic flake, and sometimes when he’s being sarcastic or attempting humor he can occasionally lose the point he’s trying to make. His apocalyptic descriptions of the future can be merely depressing or sometimes downright scary, but either way, I frequently agree with his conclusions.

Somewhere along the line Beck began to understand that the nature of our problems here in the U.S. weren’t purely political, and in any case could not be solved singularly with political solutions. He has apparently studied history a great deal over the last several years, and has read a great deal about the Founding Fathers and the history surrounding the American Revolution. Not surprisingly, he was struck by the then common notion of the role faith, or religion, played in the whole of life.

This eventually led to Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally that took place in Washington, D.C. on August 28th, where he urged the nation to turn to God, and return to the values that made the nation great. As with most everything Beck says and does, I find myself rather conflicted, defending him on the one hand and criticizing him on the other.

The ridiculous charges of the Left are typical, but they still make my blood boil. For example, Stanley Crouch of the New York Daily News opened a piece entitled “Glenn Beck’s March of Bigotry” with the following sentence: “Now that irresponsible opportunists have brought many of the misled to Washington, we can begin to contemplate what makes bigotry so appealing.” So if you attended the rally (and hundreds of thousands did) it was because you were misled, and you found bigotry appealing. What offensive, utter nonsense…

The rally seems to me to have been a lot of mom, the flag, and apple pie, with a heavy dose of religion thrown in. I don’t begrudge Beck for most of that. He has correctly, in my view, determined that many of the problems we have in our nation are spiritual in nature. It’s the solution he prescribes to the spiritual problems that concerns me. Unlike many Evangelicals, I don’t view his Mormonism per se as the difficulty. Beck is no different than many other public figures, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush in particular, who have promoted religious pluralism as virtuous and good. That is where the difficulty lies. Pluralism is not the answer to our problems. To the contrary, it contributes to the erosion of our culture (among other things), but that is what Beck is promoting at least in part. As Jonah Goldberg observed about Beck’s rally: “…Christian activists saw no problem cheering for — and praying with — the equally Mormon but far less uptight Beck, who asked citizens to go to “your churches, synagogues, and mosques!”

The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment caused no real grief to the existence of the Christian faith in public life for well over a century and a half. This was due to a largely homogenous culture with a Christian consensus. That has been essentially lost over the last 50 years or so, and now the Establishment Clause has, in effect, established pluralism as our national religion. All religion or no religion are the only acceptable views in public life. I grant that this is not what the Founders had in mind, but I view this as the inevitable, however unintended, consequence of the First Amendment.

Discussion of religion is everywhere these days, from whether Mr. Obama is a Christian to whether a mosque should be allowed to be built near Ground Zero. But these questions are pointless, in my view, so long as pluralism continues to be extolled as a great thing, that which is needed to regain the virtues of our past. That has become part of Beck’s message, and it is the part I strenuously object to.

6 comments
  1. What’s more interesting from our perspective about this Glenn Beck phenomenon is that “The Folks in Control,” however one might characterize them in terms of race, status, class, wealth, geographic location or whatever, allowed our current situation to develop over arguably the last 50 – 100 years, and now there are complaints by a vocal group of concerned citizens.

    Is it possible, as postulated by some, that the liberal, conservative, progressive, corporate and banking interests, and libertarian POWER FORCES in our society are laughing all the way to the bank, and that we minions with little money and power (the members of the Institute for Applied Common Sense included) are the ones complaining? And that because of new technological advances in communication and the power of the Internet, the voice of the minions is now being disseminated with greater force, essentially saying, “Stop! Enough is enough!”?

    Furthermore, is this a case of the minions fighting for limited scraps at the bottom of the heap, while the real riches are controlled by a few? Have we at the bottom been pitted against one another?

    Is this arguably a populist movement somewhat similar to the one led by “the Great Commoner,” William Jennings Bryan at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries?

    Is what we are experiencing simply the most vocal expression of the perhaps 80% of we citizens at the bottom of the heap?

    1. I think these are good questions. However, for me, most Americans don’t care, as long as they can live the best life with what they have. This leave penty of room for the people that are willing to exploit that situation.

      This country, and the world, have been long trending towards unethical behavior and sin, to the point were it is seen as the norm. An example would be, believing that “Greed is good.” This is a common statement in this country when related to business and capitalism.

      I have a degree in business and I believe there is nothing wrong with making money. The problem that I could never get over is most of my studies would relate to the goodness of greed and profit. As a Christian, I never fully bought into this, because I question, is greed ever good?

      Maybe I’m too cynical in most cases, unless I can compare it to true (or what I believe to be truth). So where does Glenn Beck fit into your spectum? Is he not in it for the money? Most populist have some motive, me, I’m waiting for the people of modest means to rise up. I’m waiting for the Christians to rise up. I would like the truth, and for me, the truth will not come hipocrital demagogues.

      It is tough being an independent, who doesn’t trust either party to do anything for the people or what they say. We have been going at this for too many years to expect them to change. I promised myself this year, I will not vote for career Dems or Repubs.

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Voting for Dems and Repubs].

      -Albert Einstein

      Real change will come outside of the two parties that have gotten us into this mess. These are the two parties that have just as much to hide from the public as the other. Why should I waste my time voting for them if they are going to become corrupted by big party politics?

      1. It seems clear to me that you don’t understand fully, what Glenn is all about, nor have you done your own homework on him. I have. He is genuine. I was a Democrat and liberal at that. But, because of Glenn’s persistence to his audience to do their homework, to get back to what is right, to stop repeating historical wrongs, to know what you believe in, I realized that I was not really a Democrat, but a Libertarian, which is what Glenn started out in teaching his audience. I think most of you are missing the point of Glenn’s show. STOP LOOKING AT HIM and listen to the message. Our country is in a real mess and whether or not Glenn is a populist, really doesn’t matter. The message he is bringing is two-fold: one, we need to KNOW our history so we do not repeat the same mistakes; two, this country WAS/IS founded on God and if we are to have a moral country once again, we need to give it BACK to God. That does not mean that liberals have no rights. Of course they do under the Constitution. However, God gives us rights, NOT MAN and this country seems to be trying to turn us into governmental slaves in that THEY want to be the ones to control those rights. Glenn is on the right track and it can be seen by his followers, more than you can count, I believe. To say that all of his followers are wrong or misled or anything else as opposed to the leftist group of people, is simply a point of view by a person that is pro-big government and anti-God, I believe. You cannot serve the government and God, too. You have to make a choice. If you serve God first, you will be able to obey the law of the land. But, when the government gets too big and tries to control its people via socialist/Marxism and making laws without the consent of its people, then it’s time for its people to take it back, peacefully. And that is exactly what Glenn is standing for. If you see anything else, then you already oppose him and I believe then, you are probably pro-big government. Capitalism is of God. Now having said that, when CEOs begin taking exhorbitant salaries, then it is NOT the time for government to step in. Let the market dictate what happens. It will never fail. For example, when the people see that a CEO has pocketed 10 million dollars in bonuses, then its time for the people to look at alternative companies to do business with. I do not like these corporate CEOs doing what they do, but it is part of capitalism and to change that in any way, makes it socialism, just as unions are socialism tools directly out of Nazi Germany only under the guise of ‘workers unite’. Hogwash. Union leaders regularly screw their members in many ways and the union screws with the stockholders, such as what happened with GM and the bailout. I can find no wrong with anything that Glenn Beck says, but if you do, that is your perogative. However, I implore you to do your own homework, as I did and don’t believe anyone point blank. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I see this current administration of Obama’s as socialist and Marxist and historically, it has NEVER WORKED! So, why are we going there again????? You think having the government control your every move is good or right? There is no personal responsibility and accountability anymore. There’s no reason to if the government pays you not to work, pays you if you can’t work, pays you if you’re poor – where does it stop? If we do not start to change things now, we won’t be able to stop big government. While the November elections will not totally solve our problems, these last 2 years of enlightenment by Glenn’s ability to wake up the masses, he has made the majority of people (even those, like me who were pro-Obama) more aware of where we, as a REPUBLIC, have come from and where we want to go and it ain’t down the path that Obama is trying to take us. While I enjoy your comments and this column, I still find (reading between the lines) that you still haven’t done your homework nor have you proven anything against Glenn. It’s all conjecture and bad conjecture, at that. Yes, real change will come outside of the two pathetic parties we have and we have to be very careful how we go about it. Just because the politician supports this and that, does not mean you are to believe him. FOLLOW HIS MONEY TRAIL. FOLLOW HIS HISTORY. Period. I am now more involved in these times of uncertaintly, in politics, more than I ever have been. I attended the rally on8/28/10. It was very liberating to me to see like-minded people who LOVE this country as a REPUBLIC by the people and for the people – ANTI BIG-GOVERNMENT. Do you really believe that God is a socialist/Marxist? If you do, you haven’t read your Bible. You would be so wrong. Start with reading PROVERBS. And try not to take anything out of context like Obama’s religious advisor does (this is one pathetic man who distorts the scriptures). I have been studying the scriptures since 1975 and I am 62 now. When he talks about collective salvation, I have to laugh out loud because it is exactly what the devil wants him to believe, if you believe in the devil and if you don’t then you couldn’t possibly believe in God then, and if that is true, then you stand for nothing. You will figure it out, but keep an open mind and do your homework! You may want to ask God for HIS wisdom, which Proverbs and the NT clearly says, you should do. If you stand for nothing, you are ignorant. If you stand for something, and you feel strongly about it, then back it up with facts. GLENN DOES JUST THAT. That’s all that matters. Glenn leaves the choice up to each one of us, which sad to say, the government doesn’t.

      2. “But, when the government gets too big and tries to control its people via socialist/Marxism and making laws without the consent of its people, then it’s time for its people to take it back, peacefully. And that is exactly what Glenn is standing for. If you see anything else, then you already oppose him and I believe then, you are probably pro-big government”

        You are drawing all kinds of wrong conlusions.

        Just because Mr Myers disagrees with Beck on his religion, does not mean he disagrees with him on most of his politics. If you read the post again, you will see that you are misreading Mr. Myers.

      3. This is about Glenn Beck and Mormonism, not Glenn Beck and politics. Glenn Beck is correct in stating that we need to get back to God. We do need a powerful working of God to change our country. I simply contend that he is appealing to the wrong god.

  2. I agree that often the Gospel message gets clouded in the name of unity. It’s also true the Founding Fathers were only thinking about establishing an official denomination when they wrote the 1st amendment. They never considered an onslaught of non-Christian religions besieging the New World.

    On the other hand things are so out of control with our current administration we have have to overlook certain things. Just like when Protestants and Catholics can unite on behalf of pre-born babies.

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