I know I’m supposed to be reading the Beck rally like tea leaves, but, sadly, I’m cynical, I’ve seen this movie before, so I can’t.
A few weeks before organizing a massive rally on the Mall that had the feel of a religious revival, Glenn Beck sought the blessing of some of the country’s most prominent conservative Christian leaders. The Fox talk show host wanted their support as he shifted from political commentary to a more spiritual message, he told the group of about 20.
This is where God is leading me, Beck declared, according to Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who was there, along with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
“We walked back to the hotel after and said: ‘That was extraordinary,’ ” Land said of his conversation with Dobson after the dinner in Manhattan. “I’ve never heard a cultural figure of that popularity talking that overtly about his faith. He sounded like Billy Graham.”
Doesn’t that story already sound like a well-worn conservative fable?
“We walked back….Billy Graham!”
We’ll be hearing that again.
“I’m a little nervous about that kind of talk,” said Janet Mefferd, a nationally syndicated Christian talk show host who said most callers Monday wanted to talk about Beck. “I know he means well and loves this country, but he doesn’t know enough about theology to know what kind of effect he’s having. Christians are hearing something different than what he thinks he’s saying.”
I think they’re hearing exactly what he intended them to hear, actually.
To some, Beck’s show of his faith was a calculated political effort to unite religious and social conservatives as the midterm elections approach.
I would be in that group, with this guy, apparently:
“No Republican is going to win the White House if those two aren’t united,” said D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist who studies evangelical Protestant leaders. “Here’s a chance to infuse the tea party with religious rhetoric, and extend an olive branch to those not as engaged with financial issues.”
They always, always, always divide on religion before an election, and this year is no exception. If they could put ballot issues on in selected states to ban mosques, they’d do it.