Israel a la Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck is back–at least his rallying cry is–this time in Israel. The former Fox News host headed up his “Restoring Courage” rally this week, one year after his “Restoring Honor” rally in DC last year.

The rally comes with some controversy with some of Beck’s previous statements and perceptions in Israel. Unfortunately, some coverage leading up to the event muddies our understanding of Beck’s own faith and associations. The LA Times published a fairly confusing piece where the reporter used the terms evangelical, Christian and fundamentalist interchangeably without really explaining where Beck, as a Mormon, fits in.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before conservative American commentator Glenn Beck, viewed by many supporters as a modern-day prophet, brought his messianic message to Jerusalem.

Where’s some support for the suggestion that his supporters see him as a “modern-day prophet”? By messianic message, the reporter means what?

The visit is focusing renewed attention on the growing, and some say unlikely, alliance between right-wing Israelis and Christian fundamentalists in the U.S.

Sorry, tell me again, who are the Christian fundamentalists? Apparently the LA Times is above AP style on this one.

The support comes, in part, from a belief among some Christian fundamentalists that Jews are God’s “chosen people” and that a return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem are signs of the second coming. Beck, who converted to the Mormon faith in 1999, frequently discussed such end-of-the-world prophecies and biblical themes on his program.

So is Beck a Christian fundamentalist? Does he suggest these ideas as the basis for his rally? The reporter continues this theme that there is some partnership going on between American Christians and Israelis, but he pulls from a seemingly random television show in Texas, and it’s unclear why he’s connecting it to Beck’s rally.

But Ricci and others see potential fault lines in the partnership. For starters, evangelicals are often active in missionary work, something Israelis do not tolerate.

Last week, Texas-based Daystar Television Network hosted “Israel Day,” in which it broadcast live from Jerusalem. In between on-air solicitations for $1,000 pledges, the program’s hosts condemned efforts to make part of East Jerusalem the capital of a new Palestinian state, and they vowed unconditional support for Israel.

Yet at the same time, the station boasted of “bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the land of Israel.” One host said that more Jews have been converted to Christianity in the last 20 years than in the last 2,000.

Yes, I imagine that Beck has a little bit of a following among some evangelicals, but even that relationship has occasionally been dicey. Evangelicals don’t usually consider Mormons to be evangelicals the same way that Mormons don’t consider evangelicals to be Mormons. This was the lead for the Associated Press:

Conservative Christian commentator Glenn Beck capped a contentious visit to Israel Wednesday by hosting a rally next to a hotly disputed holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City.

I don’t really understand why the reporter didn’t just say that Beck is Mormon, since that seems more specific and less debated than “conservative Christian.” Overall, I’m still curious how interfaith this event is, whether it’s generically religious, generally Christian, or what? For many reasons, you can’t really lump everyone together under the “Christian fundamentalist” label as one big happy family on an Israeli mission.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Padre Dave Poedel, STS

    Well, after all, don’t Mormons consider themselves to be Christians?

    No, no, it’s not reciprocated, but don’t the Mormons control the media too? (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

    Maybe the whole thing is a Mormon conspiracy…..NAH!…..or….?

  • Sean P

    Isn’t the rallying call of al- Qaeda something along the lines of destroying the Jew-Christian alliance?

  • Sean P

    But ya, if he is calling himself a Mormon, than call him a Mormon.

  • rob in williamson county

    Glenn Beck definitely considers himself to be Mormon, and though it’s been a while since I listened to his radio show (GW was still President), he frequently mentioned how his faith saved him from destruction (drug abuse, dissolute lifestyle, The article also seemed to hopelessly mix eschatology–the Daystar TV quote (included by the writer) that celebrates Jewish conversion to Christianity seemed strongly postmillennial in outlook, but not all evangelicals and “Conservative Christians” hold this outlook (I’m an open-minded amillennial myself, and I know many convinced dispensationists)–and I’m not sure what the Mormon viewpoint is…and the writer didn’t seem to know either. It’s typical media-speak to lump all viewpoints under an “easy to understand” label like “Christian fundumentalist”, a handy label that obscures far more than it clarifies.

  • Hector_St_Clare

    Glenn Beck may be a Mormon, but I’m quite sure he is not speaking in any official capacity for the LDS Church (any more then, say, Russell Arben Fox, who I suspect has rather different views on Israel). If the mass media wants to know about what Mormons (or, for that matter, evangelicals) think about Israel, then why don’t they talk to church authorities, instead of celebrity talk show hosts who happen to be Mormon.

    FTR, I know that conservative Roman Catholics and Orthodox do not tend to be mindlessly pro-Israel, and I suspect even within conservative evangelicals there’s more diversity of opinion then the mass media would have you believe.

  • Hector_St_Clare

    BTW, does anyone even know what ‘fundamentalist’ even means nowadays, or is just a meaningless term of abuse? Is it just a synonym for ‘More conservative then the Jesus Seminar folks?’

  • Don Ibbitson

    The bible repeatedly tells us to pray for Israel and there are significant blessings for supporting that nation (and likewise significant curses for those who oppose). While I do not embrace all Beck’s theology, I can support and encourage the truths that he is bringing forth to bring good fruit for that nation and for the US. God bless him!

  • Grumpy

    Yes, there really needs to be a fleshing out of the terms “fundamentalist” and “evangelical”, particularly in the context of this year’s GOP primaries. This is particularly of importance with the main stream media’s belated discovery of the NAR and Dominionist movements. As you say, Hector, it seems as if everyone “more conservative than the Jesus Seminar folks” are unfairly being lumped in the same crazy pool.

  • Jettboy

    I must say that in this very tiny case with calling Glen Beck “Conservative Christian” the media gets religion more than this site. Most Mormons consider themselves just that (if not simply “Christian”). Finally, the media in their “ignorance” is doing something good; dispensing of the Holy Wars and just telling the story (no matter how inaccurate in every other way). The terms evangelical Christian or Christian Fundamentalist on the other hand would be rejected labels by Mormons.

    It also seems that Get Religion has no idea what Mormons think of Jews and Israel any more than the reporters. For the record: Mormons consider Jews the Chosen People and the land of Israel the Old Jerusalem that will stand with the New Jerusalem when the Kingdom of God is revealed. Also, the Holy Mount is still considered just that and the Temple will one day be built again (interpretation of what that means may vary).

  • Dale

    Hector_St_Clare wrote:

    does anyone even know what ‘fundamentalist’ even means nowadays, or is just a meaningless term of abuse? Is it just a synonym for ‘More conservative then the Jesus Seminar folks?’

    I won’t cut and paste it, because many readers here have seen it before, but there’s an oft quoted definition of “fundamentalist” written by philosopher Alvin Plantinga .

  • Grumpy


    That was hilarious, and thank you! (That also was pretty much my definition) :)

  • Justin

    Sarah, I think you are being ufair to the author of the article. After all, as stated in the article, Beck did not consent to be interviewed for the story. How could he highlight how Beck fits in, when Beck was not willing to talk about his views?

  • CarlH


    Thank you for the link to Plantinga’s definition. I’d seen bits of it before, but never the full discussion–which is both hysterical and, unfortunately, spot on.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Jettboy, why do you say

    It also seems that Get Religion has no idea what Mormons think of Jews and Israel any more than the reporters.

    I didn’t even discuss that part of the angle, since the original story doesn’t even touch on that.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Justin, you can do an article about someone without needing to interview them necessarily. You can cover what was said at the events, right?

  • Jettboy

    “The rally comes with some controversy with some of Beck’s previous statements and perceptions in Israel. Unfortunately, some coverage leading up to the event muddies our understanding of Beck’s own faith and associations.”

    I feel you played as fast and loose with this statement as you did the charges against the reporters. You know the old saying, “show and don’t tell.” Examples with some explanations of how they do or don’t muddie our understanding of Beck (or Mormon) faith would be nice. As is, mostly this is about associations where I don’t think the media did that bad of a job other than over use of ultra-right wing were leftists are always just leftists.

  • Stephen A.

    Whether Beck is a fundamentalist or not (well, he’s not, technically. He’s Mormon. And not the Fundamentalist (polygamy) variety) he is clearly pandering to them, and did so heavily on his FOX News show and does so on his radio show. And it’s not unkind or improper to point that out, although this piece did so indelicately and without proper definitions and clarifications.