Glenn Beck Has a Problem With Christians?

I probably should leave this alone, but being a former End-Times Pentecostal it just fascinates me. Glenn Beck now has problems with President Obama’s theology.

It makes me wish we could just judge our politicians on their politicking, but we’re in the era of blurred boundaries and public piety for fun and profit.

Anyway, Glenn Beck has just dissed the United Church of Christ, of which Barack Obama is a member. The UCC is a liberal Christian church, practicing social justice on a foundation of Protestant Christian beliefs.

Glenn Beck is a convert to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Whether the Mormons are Christians depends on who you ask. Mormons say they fill in the missing scriptures, many Christians disagree— including the NYT conservative editorial writer Ross Douthat.

Theologically speaking, I don’t have a dog in this fight, so I’m inclined to give the whole issue a Taoist ‘it’s all good’.

Religion should not even be an issue– to sink further into prejudice and demonizing the opposition using actual demons takes us back to the Middle Ages, or maybe to the Seventeenth Century when Puritans hanged Mary Dyer on Boston Common for unrepentant Quakerism.

But I have to point out a double standard here. Anyone who fails to follow the True Political Party is judged un-christian despite all evidence to the contrary, while the differences between LDS and Christianity are swept under the rug when there’s profit to be made. Who or what is the object of worship?

RAY O’ HOPE: Senator Orrin Hatch, himself a Mormon, comes out in defense of the proposed Islamic Community Center in New York City on the grounds of freedom of religion and private property rights. Well said.

WORSHIPPING MAMMON: That’s the fighting words used by some conservative Evangelical clergymen on seeing the flock singing along to Glenn Beck’s hymnbook. They suspect Mormon influences. Washington Monthly has the quotes.

Compare and Contrast

Kai Wright, of The Nation examines the claims of Glenn Beck and other revisionists who wrap themselves in the mantle of the civil rights movement…

There are many things about King’s dream speech that Beck won’t likely point out at this weekend’s gathering. Perhaps top among them: the 1963 March on Washington was the work of a war-resisting labor organizer, A. Philip Randolph, and an openly gay man, Bayard Rustin, who was himself a war-resisting socialist.

The event’s actual name was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. That moniker was a compromise between King, who wanted a more focused event, and Randolph, who helped broker the broad constituency that made the march the largest peacetime gathering in the nation’s history at the time. King’s iconic speech reflected the event’s dual focus on economic and political justice–and it included much, much more than a call to judge people by their character.

Why is Glenn Beck aligning himself with a man who ‘palled around’ with socialists and homosexuals and union organizers? Why is he claiming to carry on the spirit of a movement that drew federal troops to enforce de-segregation of schools? Why is he quoting a man who did, indeed, call for re-distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor as a Christian practice and a matter of basic justice?

Because Martin Luther King was on the right side of history. Because he was an American hero. And because America has a short memory and prefers saints and martyrs over real human beings with doubts and flaws. It takes effort to read through Dr.King’s speeches or read his biography. It takes effort to learn about the many brave people of all races who worked with Dr.King, among them, Prof. Bernard Lafayette who taught nonvioence at URI..

When Dr. King was assassinated he was working for economic justice. Far from being revered, he faced brutal criticism from both white conservatives and black radicals who thought he made too many compromises.

Dr. King was murdered in Tennessee where he had gone to support a sanitation worker’s strike…

In the later 1960s, the targets of King’s activism were less often the legal and political obstacles to the exercise of civil rights by blacks, and more often the underlying poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and blocked avenues of economic opportunity confronting black Americans. Despite increasing militancy in the movement for black power, King steadfastly adhered to the principles of nonviolence that had been the foundation of his career. Those principles were put to a severe test in his support of a strike by sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. This was King’s final campaign before his death.

During a heavy rainstorm in Memphis on February 1, 1968, two black sanitation workers had been crushed to death when the compactor mechanism of the trash truck was accidentally triggered. On the same day in a separate incident also related to the inclement weather, 22 black sewer workers had been sent home without pay while their white supervisors were retained for the day with pay. About two weeks later, on February 12, more than 1,100 of a possible 1,300 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition.

Dr. King called on us to open our eyes and see the injustices inflicted every day, and work to remedy them. His vision of America was one of justice and equal opportunity. He knew that removing the color bar was a beginning, not an end.

When so many politicians and entertainers claim to be speaking for God, it’s not such a surprise that some will claim to speak for leaders who are no longer here to contradict them. Dr. King’s words are on the record. They are pure gold. Compare and contrast and don’t settle for counterfeit.

EVANGELICAL VOICE: Reverend Jim Wallis also does a compare and contrast. He recalls Dr. King’s message of social justice.


In a stunning exclusive, the New York Times reports that “it is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president. A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire.” The Times noted that “Mr. Obama could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, ‘some other race,’ which he would then have been asked to identify in writing.”

Conservative pundits immediately criticized the President’s actions. Radio host Rush Limbaugh grumbled that “it is clear that Obama has disowned his white half. He’s decided he’s got to go all in on the black side.” Glenn Beck asserted that “this president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” The Fox News host then concluded, “This guy is, I believe, a racist.” His comments were echoed by Mark Williams, a radio host and prominent leader of the Tea Party movement, who described Mr. Obama as “our half white, racist president.”

Philip J. Berg, an attorney who brought suit against the President challenging his citizenship, declared that “this proves that Obama is a fraud, a phony and…has put forth the biggest ‘HOAX’ in the history of our great nation. He’s made it plain that he identifies most with his African heritage. Why would he do that unless he were, first and foremost, an African?”

More moderate conservatives accused the President of political gamesmanship. “He’s wooing black and minority voters in an election year,” complained an unnamed G.O.P. spokesperson. “He’s trying to show up the Republicans just because they haven’t had an African-American in Congress since 2002. How is that fair?”

Wall Street reacted with massive selloffs, although shares of gunmakers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. rose sharply. Sporadic rioting was reported in rural Idaho and Texas.

White Like Me

Via Media Matters, a story is flushing through the internets tubes. Glenn Beck had a guest host on his show, a radio ranter named Doc Thompson. Media Matters has a clip from Thompson’s show where he says that taxing tanning booths is racist discrimination against ‘light-skinned Americans’.

This is so funny that I suspect some of the leftie sites are being roped in by satire. I listened to the clip, and Thompson can definitely claim he was just joking, and probably will.

I don’t know if I want to be called a light-skinned American. I actually like to think of myself as a Celt-American, though I checked off ‘white’ on the census form. Maybe some day none of this will matter. We’ve come a long way.

Anyway, I found an answer to the embarrassment of having skin so light I practically glow in the dark, and it’s not tanning booths.

When I was in my early twenties I used to lie out on a beach towel in the blazing sun with the rest of my friends. You can’t read comfortably, especially if you are a Celt whose ancestors came from gloomy lands where it rains all the time. The sun makes me squint.

I got my share of sunburns too. Used tubs of Noxema. All for beauty.

Then one day, I saw a photo of an Irish politician named Bernadette Devlin. She was called the ‘miniskirted member of Parliament’. I didn’t know much about her radical politics, which I do not endorse, but I was struck by her personal style. She had skin the color of Irish soda bread. She could have been my cousin.

Those of us who check off ‘white’ on the census form can lose touch with our ethnicity. Especially if our family has been American for several generations. Bernadette Devlin was a public image of a woman like me. Puffy, pale and unashamed. There really is an Irish look. I decided not to fight nature, and to just be who I am.

I’m glad I had that epiphany in my early twenties– I’m fairly wrinkle-free today. I like the sun, but I stopped baking in it decades ago.

I don’t know if Doc Thompson is a big user of tanning booths. He might be worried that a tax will strain his budget. If so, I’d urge him to accept his true nature without shame. A nice tan looks good on most people, but some of us weren’t made that way. Why lie on a towel on a lawn when you could be taking a nice walk? Why lock yourself up in a tanning booth when you could be blogging? Life’s too short.

God’s Agents on Earth

Today my Facebook has a post from the tireless blogger, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend. MSNBC host, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is getting flamed for pointing out the obvious truth that citizens bear a collective responsibility for the welfare of our children. Even if they are not our own family, we don’t tell them to go play in traffic. Well, maybe the grouchy guy who listens to Rush Limbaugh does, but we don’t call him an expert.

I replied to Pam–
Rush Limbaugh is childless despite 4 marriages. Glenn Beck has a daughter, Mary, with a disability. Maybe he never has taken any state or federal benefits for her care so far, but if the wealth ever runs out over the course of her life it will be the community that steps up. The same goes for Trig Palin. Are these people so sure their own children will never need the safety net they are tearing apart?

In honor of the gummint entitlements that make possible benefits such as Meeting Street School, Hasbro Children’s Hospital and public education for all children regardless of their medical condition, I’m re-running this post from 2009…

Recently I got an email from Jim Wallis at Sojourners, a progressive Christian organization.

Glenn Beck has received a lot of attention for his inflammatory rhetoric lately. Recently, he shared a personal story about his daughter who has cerebral palsy, which gets to the heart of his fears about health-care reform:

They [the government] will say exactly what doctors said about my 21-year-old daughter: “She may not really have a quality of life. She may not walk or talk or feed herself. But then again miracles happen.” The “then again, miracles happen” part of that will be left out of the conversation. And I will not be able to see my daughter’s 21st birthday, where I can reflect with her how miracles do happen. Because really, as I was told at the beginning of her life: Well, what kind of quality of life is she going to really have? I don’t know, but that’s for God to decide, not the government. -The Glenn Beck Program, 8/6/2009

I hope everything is well with Glenn Beck’s daughter, Mary, and I can’t argue with faith. I can understand the Beck family praying for a miracle, and I hope it was granted. But in the world of meeting material needs, petitioning God directly doesn’t usually produce a check out of thin air. For that, Glenn Beck would petition his insurance company.

He has faith that the insurance company will be there for him. And that is fortunate. Because if he discovered in his time of need that the insurance he chose wasn’t adequate, he’d have a very tough time getting a new insurance policy for his family, with a newborn needing medical care. If his insurance company stalled on paying, who would he look to? The law, and the government.

So the question is not ‘who will you trust, God or the Government?’– the question is how much you trust your insurance company. Because when you or your family have a serious health problem you will be in no shape to go shopping on the free market.

God helps those who help themselves, they say, and maybe God blesses us when we help each other. I don’t know how long private insurance covers a child with cerebral palsy, but there are Government programs to help people with disabilities. It’s possible that Mary is benefiting from one of these programs. They exist because private insurance was not willing to meet the need, so a public option was created.

God loves us all, but insurance companies have to collect more money than they disburse, and they maximize profits by denying care. They don’t get into philosophical arguments about quality of life, they just refuse to pay the bills. Then you have to appeal to the Government. So it’s in our best interests to keep our Government strong and regulate our insurance providers, so that they have to uphold a standard of care.

Glenn Beck has faith in God, but who are God’s agents? Blue Cross, Tenet and Cigna? It’s not a debate about God vs Government– it’s how much you trust private insurance. If your trust is not blind, you’ll want the Government on your side.

UPDATE: The passage of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed ‘Obamacare’, provides protection for people with disabilities, like Mary Beck, who cannot now be denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition. As wealthy as her family is, she most likely will need the support of a government program, such as Medicare D, at some point in her life. Health care reform is beginning to change the focus of private insurance from paying for procedures to maintaining wellness. Ordinary working Americans cannot meet all the needs of a child with a disability without government assistance. I’m skeptical that even the Becks, with their millions, are immune from the contingencies we all face.