Liberty University graduate Jonathan Merritt posted an article yesterday titled: “Glenn Beck Preaches Mormon Theology at Liberty University.” In the article Merritt provides analysis of Beck’s sermon and the Latter Day Saint references in it.
While there has been some outrage expressed by Liberty grads on Twitter, the school hasn’t responded to these expressions with the vigor it did to concerns the school was partnering with Benny Hinn. Merritt seems largely correct when he wrote:
There seems to be no outcry from students, parents, or faculty over Liberty’s invitation of Beck or of his sermon so far. Perhaps the silence is because this is business as usual for the evangelical mega-school.
After clearly identifying the Mormon theology in Beck’s sermon, Merritt concludes:
While Merritt says this gently, I do agree that Liberty often puts conservative politics before religion. To varying degrees, one might have a hard time finding a religious institution that has not done this at one time or another. However, there has to be a line somewhere, and for my taste, Liberty crossed that line by giving Glenn Beck a platform to sermonize and in essence to proselytize their students. If Beck provided value to the educational mission of the school then I can see him speaking in classes, or at politically oriented events, etc. However, Liberty showcased him preaching what was in essence a sermon.
So what does all this mean?Given the school’s history, Beck’s sermon may be nothing more than Liberty doing what it has always done best: thriving amidst controversy and leading with conservative politics rather than theology. But it may also be one more sign that Mormons are becoming more mainstream in American life–even increasingly welcomed by evangelicals who would have rejected them only a few years ago.
More broadly, there are many reasons I think Beck should not be invited to speak at an institution of higher learning. Mostly, the reasons have to do with his endorsement of the historical problems of David Barton. So much misinformation has been spread by Barton through Beck’s media empire that he is culpable for it. Beck has been approached about the matter by those close to him and he has persisted to give Barton a platform. Barton in turn has softened and minimized the real differences between historic Christianity and the LDS doctrines. All of this disqualifies both of them in my opinion.