We should have seen it coming. After all, what did Glenn Beck do just minutes after being dumped by Fox back in April? He announced that he’d be keynoting the annual conference of Christians United for Israel, an alliance of end-times minded Christian congregations headed by pastor John Hagee.
And now, just days after returning from his own fact-finding mission to Israel, Beck has announced that (after making his own movie about Israel in a few weeks) he will convene a “Rally to Restore Courage” in Israel this August.
Beck explained the rally as a latter-day crusade to save the Holy Land from the Palestinians: “Things in Israel are going to get bad, and there are forces all over the globe… They are going to attack the center of our faith, our common faith, and that is Jerusalem. It won’t be with bullets and bombs. It will be with a two-state solution that cuts off Jerusalem.”
Beck called upon his followers to gather in Israel this August. Because that’s one thing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs: Glenn Beck and his fans wading into the middle of it.
Here at RD, Anthea Butler plumbed Beck’s motivations:
Although a Mormon, Beck’s beliefs appear here to be more aligned with conservative Christian beliefs regarding the end-times, and a particular reading of the Book of Revelation that lends itself to raptures, dispensations, and popular culture depictions like Left Behind and A Thief in the Night. Unlike Harold Camping, who just wants his calculations to be correct for once, Beck wants to write himself into latter days history… Beck’s statement, ‘I’ve been asked to stand in Jerusalem’ suggests that he may be conflating his role with that of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3.”
Actually, Mormons may diverge from Hagee on some details of the last days (Mormon theology is usually characterized as premillenialist) but we do read the Book of Revelation. And in Mormon end-times scenarios, we don’t call them “witnesses”: they are described as apostles, or even prophets. Invading armies of Gentiles bent on the destruction of Israel will kill the two apostles, and their murdered bodies will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem for three days without a decent burial. And then the Mount of Olives will split open. And then Jesus will return. That’s how Beck’s guru, the LDS ultra-conservative Cleon Skousen described it in 1972.
Is Beck making himself out to be a prophet? It wouldn’t be the first time that he danced with prophetic rhetoric. By now, though, we should all know that Beck is less interested in plying his own virtues than in plugging into the fears of his followers. After burning through conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory over the last few years, Beck is looking to wreak havoc in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by exploiting the most powerful fear-generating narrative of them all: the apocalypse.