Beck, Romney & The Future of the Religious Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 06:20:47 PM EST
There has long been a Mormon dimension to the Religious Right which has been little discussed and not well understood.  Whether fortunately or unfortunately, the rise of Glenn Beck has begun to change that. Indeed, in the run up to the publication of a book on Beck, his Mormon-informed far Religious Rightism is starting to get noticed.

There are two new and useful articles out about this this week that wonder aloud about the role not just of Beck, but of Mormonism, (at least certain strains of Mormonism) in the future of American conservatism. (Exceprts on the flip).

Mitt Romney had a hard time navigating popular distrust of his Mormon faith as well as the overt anti-Mormonism of conservative Christians he needed to win over in the GOP primaries. He went so far as to give a speech early in the primary season intended to take the issue of his Mormonism head on. It probably helped him but, by all indications, not nearly enough.

But with Glenn Beck about to become the best known Mormon in American politics, Romney may have some unanticipated, fresh hurdles to in this regard.

Here are some excerpts:

Latter day taint: How Glenn Beck is driven by Mormonism -- and why his fellow faithful (including Mitt Romney) should be worried, by Adam Reilly appears in The Boston Phoenix.

Beck's would-be interpreters occasionally note that he's a Mormon: he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as an adult, in 1999, with his wife and children. But in contrast with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, whose Mormonism was discussed in great detail during his failed 2008 presidential bid, the ramifications of Beck's faith has gone largely unexplored. That's unfortunate -- because a case can be made that Beck is to Mormonism what Father Charles Coughlin was to Catholicism in the 1930s, when the "radio priest" peddled nasty, faith-based opposition to another ambitious Democratic president.

Given the ease with which this discussion could degenerate into Mormon-bashing, this reticence may be understandable. To fully get Beck, though, it's necessary to understand just how many of his beliefs have specifically Mormon roots, or are conveyed in uniquely Mormon ways -- from his embrace of former Mormon leader Ezra Taft Benson's insatiable anti-communism to his Mormon-bred suspicion that the government is the agent of Satan. For some of Beck's co-religionists, these links are obvious. Back in March, for example, writing at the Mormon-history blog the Juvenile Instructor, Christopher Jones -- a doctoral student in history at William & Mary -- noted that Beck seemed to be plumbing the disturbing depths of Mormon millenarianism, and marveled at the press's seeming disinterest.

Once the link between Beck's faith and politics gets made, intriguing questions emerge. Without his unsettling brand of Mormonism, would Glenn Beck still be Glenn Beck? Should members of the LDS Church be cheering or lamenting Beck's protracted moment in the spotlight? Could Beck's forays into stealth Mormon sermonizing make his conservative evangelical fans rethink their loyalty? And if Beck's religiosity finally becomes a story, what might that mean for the lingering presidential hopes of 2012 Republican contender Mitt Romney?

To be fair, the media haven't totally ignored the significance of Beck's Mormonism. In September, Salon published several stories by Alexander Zaitchik, author of a forthcoming Beck biography, on Beck's improbable march to conservative superstardom. One -- "Meet the Man Who Changed Glenn Beck's Life" -- focused on Beck's deep ties to Cleon Skousen, an eccentric, prolific Mormon thinker who died in 2006. These days, Skousen is best known as the author of The Five Thousand Year Leap, a book that dubs the US Constitution a "miracle" and casts the Founders as deeply Christian men. Beck has lavishly praised The Five Thousand Year Leap on air, and even wrote the foreword for a new edition of the book; as a result, this formerly obscure text is now a bestseller in its own right.

But Skousen wasn't just a cheerleader for Christianity. He was also a zealous purveyor of conspiracy theories, obsessed with communism in his earlier years and later warning of a vast mega-conspiracy in which communists and capitalists joined forces to seek total world domination.

How Mormonism Built Glenn Beck by Joanna Brooks, at Religion Dispatches.

Beck, who was raised Catholic in Washington state, has produced, with the help of Mormon Church-owned Deseret Book Company, the DVD An Unlikely Mormon: The Conversion Story of Glenn Beck (2008); Mormon fansites invite visitors to learn more about Beck's beliefs by clicking through to the official Web site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But what these fansites don't reveal is the extent to which Mormonism has given Beck key elements of his on-air personality and messaging.

It's true that his Mormonism sometimes gets Beck into trouble with evangelical Christians, who have long antagonized Mormons by denying the authenticity of their belief in Jesus Christ and deriding the Mormon Church as a cult. Last December, James Dobson's Focus on the Family Web site pulled a Beck column, citing concerns about his Mormon ties. Still, Beck's spectacular rise suggests that evangelical conservatives (especially those under 40 who may not remember the anti-Mormon cult crusades of the 1980s) are increasingly willing to set aside their reservations about Mormons when it suits their pragmatic and political interests.

Glenn Beck marks an unprecedented national mainstreaming of a peculiar strand of religious political conservatism rooted in, and once isolated to, the Mormon culture regions of the American West. That Mormons are capable of leveraging disproportionate political influence with decisive results was one of the great lessons of California's 2008 election season, wherein readily-mobilized Mormons, who make up 2% of California's population, contributed more than 50% of the individual donations to the successful anti-marriage equality Proposition 8 campaign, and a sizeable majority of its on-the-ground efforts.

How much traction Glenn Beck can muster remains to be seen. But if the American religious right has sometimes been imagined as a monolithic product of the evangelical Deep South and Bible Belt, the rise of Glenn Beck suggests that those who would understand American conservatism might also look West, toward Salt Lake City.




Display:
I'm failing to feel sympathy for Mittens. Or Mormons.
You know, I've lived in Misery (Missouri) most of my life, and I used to go outstate quite often.
You know, before they went completely insane.
Is it beautiful? Yes. Is Eden out there? No talking snakes have ever been found.
Seriously, this just means that Romney will have a harder time winning the denomination, and will most likely lose.
To Petraeus.

by Da Rat Bastid on Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 12:07:38 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (111 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (35 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (27 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (28 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (29 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (32 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (24 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (23 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (12 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (14 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (17 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (32 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (11 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (15 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (30 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (46 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (22 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (22 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (70 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (20 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (29 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (33 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (20 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (22 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (23 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (20 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (22 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (25 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (23 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (24 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.