Thoughts on Glenn Beck, Mormons, & the Mosque

First check out Ed Brayton commenting on Stephen Prothero’s article. The bottom line is Mormons, of all folks, should especially support the religious liberty rights of all. Their experiences in America should make them know better.

Which leads me to Glenn Beck’s rally. He noted, it was about “God.” And that he happily tithes 10 percent. Knowing how much Beck makes that’s many millions of dollars going to the Mormon Church. And at that rally behind Beck was, among others, David Barton. I kept thinking whether Barton and the other evangelicals there really believe Mormons worship the same God they do; the Mormons claim they do; it’s the evangelicals who often have a problem with it. See for instance, Barton buddy Brannon Howse’s turning away from Beck for that very reason.

Beck extensively quoted from the American Founding. Did he misuse the Founders? Lincoln? Dr. King? It’s beyond the scope of my post to answer that question.

However I will address one sense in which I think Beck’s rally did authentically capture the spirit of the America’s Founding political theology: The idea that Mormons, evangelicals, and others all worship the same God.

Had the Mormons existed during America’s Founding, I’m convinced the Founders would have embraced them. At least the first four or so Presidents would have. They embraced the Swedenborgs, who I see as the closest analogy to Mormons. Swedenborgianism is as distant from orthodox Christianity as is Mormonism.

I get flack for stating that the “key Founders” (the first four Presidents, Franklin, G. Morris, Hamilton before his end of life conversion) were all agreed on the political theological basics. Not the finer details. Jefferson’s Bible was his own. Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin all three agreed the biblical canon was errant and fallible. But anything beyond that (which biblical passages reflected error, which valid revelation) would be finer details where they disagreed.

So let’s clarify: What was the main area that connects all of the “key Founders” in their personal and political theology: The idea that there is a Providence and future state of rewards and punishments. The other doctrinal issues (especially whether Jesus was 2nd Person in the Trinity) where religions differ are superfluous and insignificant.

That’s the lowest common denominator of “religion” that all good men believe in. That’s why Calvinists, Swedenborgs, Jews and, today, Mormons (perhaps even Muslims; at least the good Muslims who peacefully demean themselves under America’s civil law, which I would argue is the overwhelming majority of them) can feel communion with the God who “founded” America.

If you don’t believe they all worship the same God — America’s God — you are being un-American.

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12 Responses to Thoughts on Glenn Beck, Mormons, & the Mosque

  1. pinky says:

    I’m not sure of this; but, another person more knowledgeable about The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints explained to me that the sermon Beck gave was true to the tenants of Mormons that sets them aside from Evangelicals.

  2. Jon,

    This is about the most sensible thing I have seen written on this topic. In a political-theological sense it is most certainly the same God. The differences come when we get into more metaphysical issues. Not many of which are relevant at all to politics. I think the trick in the next decades will be to convince the Muslims of that. If it is possible. One must rely heavily on natural law to do so.

  3. Chris says:

    KoI, it will be difficult to convince them as they are increasingly, and more and more publicly, villified by American Christians. Very visible acts of anti-Muslim violence, unless equally visibly condemned by Christian leaders, won’t help either.

  4. Chris,

    I tend to agree. Our foreign policy towards the Islamic world is absurd. That book you linked a few weeks back tells us why? If we were to leave them alone most of them would leave us alone. At very least, we should not use force until they seek to invade our land. Some would argue that 911 was a reason to show force. I do not buy it. Yes, we can try to round up the people who did it just like we would any other criminals but I think restraint would have caused the more reasonable Muslims to turn on the radicals.

  5. Heidegger says:

    Jon–love your post! Beautiful. By the way, what do you think was the most difficult part of the Trinity that was so difficult for some of the Founder to accept? The Holy Ghost/Spirit part of the triune? That Christ was God’s incarnation?

    King of Ireland, your last post just about knocked right off the chair:
    “If we were to leave them alone most of them would leave us alone. At very least, we should not use force until they seek to invade our land.” HUH??? You’re just too smart to believe that crap. Where do we start—1948 when Israel became a state? The four wars that followed–the four wars of aggression by Israel’s neighbors that were explicitly fought to destroy the State of Israel? The 70s–the80s–the 90s–endless acts of terrorism, blown up school buses, blown up schools, hijacked planes, cruise ships, the 1972 Olympics–911. I’m very curious to hear you explain what specific acts of our foreign policy compelled them to not “leave us alone”. That we liberated Kuwait? That we protected Saudia Arabia from almost certain Iraqi. conquest. Don’t you get it?? They will NEVER leave us alone! Oh, last I heard, Japan and Germany did not seek or enter our land. Good God, you must love Chamberlain and the Munich Pact. When you have an enemy who is at your throat, appeasement does not work. You’ve ruined my drink and now need a drink…this is just depressing now that one of my favorite commenters is talking like Rosie O’Donnell…heaven help us!

  6. I do not consider Israel as me. I have no idea why we take sides in that dispute. They have been fighting over that land for years and probably always will like you said. As far as America goes they have never invaded our land. I am not going to blame a whole religion for the stupid shit of a few. Especially when you can make a good case that the few have been emboldened by the fact that we are over there.

    I am not a fool and realize that some seek to unite Islam under a Caliphate and advance. I understand they did just as much of that shit as the Crusaders did. I am not saying ignore that fact or those that would do it. I am saying they have been so weak the last 100 years or so that there is not much chance of that happening.

    Unless, someone wants to make the case that we prevent them from taking over Europe again by the West staying in their land and making it impossible for them to unite then we should not be there. If they do want to make that case then they are for perpetual war and history shows us sooner or later they will regain the upperhand.

    Maybe mutual understanding and benefit of the doubt will change something.

    Most Muslims are peaceful people. I have lived right next to them in China. They treated us Americans very well.

  7. Heidegger says:

    Sorry, King of Ireland, but I have major problems with your efforts to constantly draw equivalency between the actors in this theater—sort of like drawing equivalency between the arsonist and the fireman—must run now–off for a full-moon boat ride with accompaniment by Herr Mahler–last movement of the Resurrection Symphony—head explodingly beautiful music!

  8. Thats cool we will have to agree to disagree. Have fun on the boat.

  9. “Oh, last I heard, Japan and Germany did not seek or enter our land. Good God, you must love Chamberlain and the Munich Pact. When you have an enemy who is at your throat, appeasement does not work. ”

    We are in 135 different nations and used that boogey man to enter them all. Hitler is coming again is a great ploy to keep your Empire rolling right along. We have troops in more countries than Great Britian even thought of.

  10. Heidegger says:

    King, “my Empire”? How many of the “135 different nations” have ever paid taxes to the United States? That’s one helluva failed Empire. I forget who, but someone once said that the only thing we have ever asked of the countries we have liberated is a place to bury our dead soldiers. Do you really attribute imperialism to every single country we have troops in? These hell hole, god-awful, basket-case countries are the last places in the world we want to be—why do you impulsively gravitate toward a world view that always finds sinister motives in every military action this country has taken? There really are good guys and bad guys in this world.

  11. We do not tax them we just control their natural resources. No big deal.

  12. Mark Boggs says:

    There really are good guys and bad guys in this world.

    And a whole lot of perception in between.

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