Thursday, September 2, 2010

Religion and Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally, Washington D. C.
In public appearances and on his Fox News show, Glenn Beck has made religion a central part of his message, although he rarely refers to his Mormon faith. I guess he's too busy talking about our president's faith and providing the world with his own explanations about the president's beliefs.

Salt Lake City lawyer and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stephen Owens didn't follow his in-laws to Glenn Beck's Washington rally. When he read that fellow Mormon Beck publicly questioned President Obama's "version of Christianity" the day after the rally, he was so angry that he wrote a letter to the local newspaper.

"I think it's arrogant of anyone to say whether someone is a Christian or not," said Owens, a 42-year-old Democrat. "My view of that is, if someone says, 'I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ,' then they're Christian, and who am I to say, 'No, you're not,' let alone [to] the president of our country? I was offended at that."
Michael Otterson, managing director of public affairs for the church, said that opinion of Beck is just as divided among Mormons as it is elsewhere. While Mormons consider themselves Christians, key tenets of the Mormon Church are disputed by mainstream Christian denominations - a disparity that critics say adds to the irony of Beck questioning another person's Christian faith.

There are more than a dozen Mormon members of Congress from across the political spectrum, from Nevada Sen. Harry Reid on the left to Sens. Orrin G. Hatch and Robert F. Bennett - both Republicans from Utah - on the right. But Beck, whose Washington rally last weekend drew upward of 87,000 people, may be the highest-profile Mormon on the national stage.

A Time magazine poll released last week showed that 29 percent of Americans hold unfavorable views of Mormons, compared with 43 percent who had unfavorable views of Muslims, 17 percent who felt unfavorably toward Catholics and 13 percent who viewed Jews unfavorably.

During Romney's 2008 presidential bid, some viewed his Mormon faith as a liability. A Pew survey at the time showed that 25 percent of Americans - including 36 percent of evangelical Republicans - expressed reservations about voting for a Mormon for president.

I guess we're lucky that Glenn Beck says he has no interest in running for president. Guess it's more fun to sit back and comment about the president than to walk in his shoes. You make lots more money that way.

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