After Glenn Beck delivered a sermon on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of a still-disputed, but undeniably large crowd, pundits have debated his the host's rise as a Tea Party icon and media mogul. But there's an under-reported yet salient aspect to the proceedings: his Mormon faith.
In a contribution at the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg (author of Kingdom Coming) explains that it's rare for a group mostly comprised of Christians, such as the Tea Party, to wholeheartedly embrace a Mormon as a champion of their worldview. Mormons, after all, relocated "essential parts of Christian history from the Middle East to the United States" and fused them to a version of Christian nationalism that is both unabashedly American and increasingly skeptical of all things secular. Many evangelicals still do not view Mormons as Christian, and that perspective dogged prominent Mormon Mitt Romney all throughout his failed 2008 presidential bid. But Glenn Beck, argues Goldberg, has been able to successfully form an alliance between the two groups:
Beck’s rally made the connection between the Tea Party and Christian nationalism explicit, as he called for Americans to go to “God boot camp” in preparation for a coming “global storm.” He drew heavily on the work of David Barton, a revisionist Christian nationalist historian and staple of Christian right literature.
And this could be very good news for Romney if he decides to run in 2012:
The more Mormons and evangelicals team up in the cause of Christian nationalism, the more their political agreements will trump their theological differences. “There are lots of evangelicals that have fallen into Glenn Beck’s camp,” said [Jan] Shipps [a prominent Mormon Historian]. “It’s important to think about it this way: Beck is a convert. He knows how to talk the language of the Christian right, unlike Romney, who has been a Mormon all his life.”