On his radio show last week, Brannon Howse of Worldview Matters accused Glenn Beck of “bait and switch” tactics to bring Christians together into a coalition on shared goals and then draw them into Mormonism by using manipulative double language. “He’s setting up a conspiracy theory of hidden truths showing this to be a Mormon Christian country.”
Tensions between Beck and the conservative Christian world surfaced earlier in the week when Beck told Bill O’Reilly that he didn’t think gay marriage would destroy America and in fact, he did care much about it at all.
Then on his show on Wednesday, Beck discussed an obscure archeological find, the Bat Creek Stone, that Beck believes has been hidden from the public by the Smithsonian Institution and others because it is evidence of ties between ancient Israel and Native Americans — which, although Beck did not say this explicitly, would also be evidence for claims (albeit recently disputed within the LDS Church) made in the Book of Mormon. Howse, on his radio show, said he was “stunned” to hear Beck “laying down Mormon teaching” and “when [Beck] started talking about the Bat Creek Stone. . . . I didn’t stay with it, it was just too weird.” (While Howse presented no evidence that Mormons have used the Bat Creek Stone to promote such a view, Beck’s use of it was characteristically wacky, as the theory he promoted has long been discredited by archeologists.) Howse continued:
He has swerved into theological and doctrinal realm in the last few weeks. He’s said things on the air that makes my skin crawl. . . a ‘works based’ theology that is based in Mormonism. . . . We are not serving the god of Mormonism that says you can be like God… a religion that said Jesus and Satan were brothers. . . . Leave your pagan—your cult—religion. . . .
Howse’s guest was Ed Decker, a former Mormon whose apologetics ministry, Saints Alive, focuses on demonstrating the ways in which Mormonism departs from orthodox Christianity. And together they spent nearly an hour denouncing Beck and skewering Mormonism. They even read and ridiculed comments from people on Beck’s website, who indicated that they were Mormon. Decker said Beck has been “using terminology that Mormons manipulate. . . terms that have double meanings . . . and that now he’s getting into things right out of the Book of Mormonism itself.”
Howse had been a big Beck (and David Barton) supporter—and Howse continues to believe that “Christians” should work with Beck when they agree but that they “must stand up and say ‘Glenn, we cannot unite with you spiritually.’” But in Howse’s view, Beck is slowly shifting emphasis from the points on which Christians can agree with him to those on which they cannot. Howse points to the links on Beck’s website that he claims deceptively lead Christians into spiritually dangerous territory; links such as Glenn’s Divine Destiny, and encouragement to “join Glenn in morning prayer” with his Daily Spiritual Thought.
Beck’s friend and sometimes sidekick, David Barton, later came to his defense, saying he was more Christian than Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Jim Wallis, or Joel Hunter.
The rift between the anti-Mormons and Beck defenders in the religious right could have an impact of the tenuous alliance between the religious right and the tea party — and it could play a role in a possible Mitt Romney presidential run.