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September 16, 2010

Poll: Glenn Beck the Wrong Leader to Lead Religious Movement

Glenn Beck's recent "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington focused more on faith than politics, but most Americans don't consider the conservative broadcaster the right person to lead a religious movement -- or even know what religion he follows, according to a new poll.

Fewer than one in five Americans (17 percent) believe Beck is the right person to helm a religious movement, according to a PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll released Thursday by Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service.

Half of respondents say he's the wrong person; the rest either don't know or declined to answer.

Beck was only correctly identified as a Mormon by 17 percent of respondents -- the same number who think he is either Protestant or Catholic.

This confusion may work to Beck's advantage as an aspiring religious leader, however, since the poll also found that two-thirds of respondent think Mormons have beliefs different from their own, including 41 percent who consider them "very different."

"Perceptions of the Mormon religion have a strong impact on views of Glenn Beck, but only among the relatively small contingent who are aware of his religious affiliation," said Daniel Cox, director of research for PRRI, a nonpartisan research firm in Washington.

Put another way, when people know Beck is Mormon, their views about the Mormon faith directly impact their views about him. People who see affinity with Mormons have a higher regard for him than those who find differences with the Mormon faith.

The results are consistent with other studies about the fast-growing faith's role in public life, including polls about 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron.

"Because other surveys show that Mormons are not especially popular with Americans, as a rule, then it's likely that if more people found out Glenn Beck's religious background, that would inhibit them following him," Green said.

Among the small number of respondents who knew of Beck's faith, 37 percent said he is the right person to lead a religious movement -- an approval rating that's double the general response, Cox explained, because this cohort already includes many of Beck's fans.

For those who know that Beck is Mormon and also believe that Mormons have different views than their own, the number drops to 28 percent who said he should be a religious leader.

When Beck is correctly identified as a Mormon, his general approval rating also depends on what Americans think of Mormons: Among people who know Beck is Mormon and believe Mormons have religious beliefs different than their own, 42 percent had a negative opinion of him, significantly higher than the 27 percent of the general population.

The views of Beck and Mormons are generally consistent across political and religious lines; Beck comparatively draws more support from white evangelicals and Republicans than other groups.

-- The 50 percent of Americans who believe that Beck is the wrong person to lead a religious movement included 42 percent of white evangelicals, half of white mainline Protestants, 33 percent of black Protestants and 56 percent of Catholics. Politically, they include 40 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents.

-- The 17 percent of Americans who say Beck is the right person to lead a religious movement included 26 percent of white evangelicals, 16 percent of white mainline Protestants, 14 percent of black Protestants, and 18 percent of Catholics. Politically, they included 29 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of Democrats, and 16 percent of independents.

Beck's higher approval ratings among evangelicals -- given that they traditionally have not considered Mormons as Christians -- reflects the growing evangelical-Mormon alliance on conservative culture war issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, Green said.

But the idea that evangelicals would seek spiritual, rather than political, direction from a Mormon deeply troubles Russell D. Moore, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who said it represents confusion or ambivalence about the "striking" differences between evangelical and Mormon theology.

"I'm concerned about an evangelical Christianity that has so lost sight of the gospel that it is unable to ask the question, `When you say `God and Country,' what God are you talking about? Where is Jesus in all of this?"'

The fact that a Mormon is in a position to be considered a national religious movement leader by even one in five Americans represents a major sign of progress for Mormons, and a leadership vacuum among conservative Christians, said Richard Ostling, co-author of "Mormon
America."

"The generation of leaders on the religious right are dead or in decline or aging or not as influential as they once were. And he's not as much of a political activist like a Ralph Reed, or a candidate of the Pat Robertson type. He's an entertainer, first and foremost, which makes him a unique figure."

Ostling added, however, that Beck's religious beliefs are crucial to understanding his current motivation.

Mormonism is "a very American religion: you have the Garden of Eden located on American soil, you have the Second Coming happening in the United States, and you have the United States with a divinely inspired Constitution," he said. "It's a very natural fit for a devout Mormon to lead this kind of God-and-country movement."

The PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll was based on telephone interviews conducted of 1,007 U.S. adults between Sept. 9 and 12, after Beck's Washington rally. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Comments

Are we so blind as to not see the very hand of God in the country today? Divine Providence is manifesting daily in the hearts of our people as He calls us back to honesty and integrity as individuals - - yet we want to damn one of the strongest voices for right and truth. Glenn Beck may be Morman, but what he is invoking in us is real. Cannot we raise our hearts together and join in a 'centered' community to bring about the salvation of our Country?

Beck wants to talk about 'faith' yet his 'faith' is so radically different than those who are non-Mormon. (Catholics and Evangelicals) As far as his moral and political convictions are concerned he has bedfellows from many conservative Evangelicals. I think what he is advocating is a kind of moralistic, therapeutic, theistic, nationalistic civil religion one that has no foundations in the teachings of the New Testament.

Most who consider themselves Christian, are Christians by name only, once a week. They are those who draw near unto him (God) with their lips, but their hearts are far from him.

This Restoring Honor rally is waking people up to remember God.

Truth is truth, regardless of if it comes out of a the mouth of a Mormon.

Glen Beck is filling a real vacuum that exists whether he is qualified or not. At least he has challenged the qualified people, because what the people are looking out for is not one who is qualified but an action that should be taken and the fruit that it will produce. The Condition of the country requires that something be done. Remember that God uses the weak things of the world and the things that are neglected to confound "the things that matter" Where are the theologians of this age? where are the wise? where are the avowed christian speakers? It was Glen that came out in a historic date and place. What Glen is not today he can be tomorrow for his obedience!.

What must Beck do in order to perpetuate his plan? He must first try to rally organizations and churches to his cause. One rally can't do wonders. Any movement or revival doesn't last forever. Even Promise Keepers with its initial success is now continuing to fizzle out.

Beck can talk about morality. I have no problem with that. However when he brings God and faith in the picture he is then getting theological however simple his theology might be. But for many Evangelicals true righteousness living cannot be obtained without having experienced salvation. Then what may I ask is Beck's view of salvation?

Wasn't Jesus prayer, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done." The Kingdom prayer is not about the second coming of America. It is about Jesus and "denying self and taking up the cross daily." This is hardly the message of Glenn Beck. The Gospel is both very simple and very hard. "He who tries to save his live will lose it but he who loses his life will find it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?" The message of Glenn Beck is very clearly exactly the opposite. It is a message of "Every man for himself". Hardly the Good News message of Jesus.

I find it quite interesting that I hear of no Evangelical, Catholic, Protestant,or Jewish leaders coming forth and declaring that our nation must turn back to God. Glen Beck has not declared that he wants to be the quote"Religious Leader" leading our country back to God. He's done more this past year informing and challenging viewers to bring back our nation "Under God". I don't care that he is a Mormon. At least he's carrying a burden heavy enough to risk his career and reputation in order to help bring this nation back to its roots and God. Shame on Evangelicals for their jealousy and cowardliness. Consider the backgrounds of the twelve disciples when Christ first called them. Were they perfect or religiously aligned with our Lords purpose and will. Certainly not. God could and may use a Glen Beck, even as a Mormon, to help bring this nation to repentance. I pray Glen Beck will continue to speak his mind and declare this nation must repent and turn back to God. II Chron. 7:14

I'm not so sure about Glenn Beck and the religion part myself. I think he should just stick to politics.

He wouldn't be leading a movement, if the people didn't follow him. They don't follow him because he's the head of an institution. They follow him, because they agree with him. There are no money-ties, no official roles or ties of any sort! This is one of the most genuine movements that you can find out there, today. Debate the issues, CT. Don't go out & poll your left-learning friends and ask: "Is he the right person?" What does that even mean?
It's not a matter of whether he's the wrong person or not. It's a matter of whether he is correct one or not (in the way he is leading)!

@Robert. The reason you may not hear about Christian leaders calling the nation of America is because the media doesn't cover it. Dr. Micheal Youseff of Leading The Way is currently running a campaign entitled God Save America, running from July 4th - Nov 2, 2010. Charles Stanley is also running focused prayer for the salvation of this nation. It is also a major focus in the church I attend as well as others I am aware of.

Glenn Beck is an Entertainer. He gets paid for getting people to watch and/or listen to his T.V. and radio programs and bring in profits FOR his employer. His 'religion' is synomonous to a cult, like it or not. There is no question that this nation has a dire need to turn back to God, but for those words to come from a one-sided (politically)entertainer is nothing I will 'entertain'. God is NOT a politician: Where will YOU spend eternity?

Glenn is a wonderful speaker regarding the downfall of our Nation as it pertains to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the founding Fathers, but Glenn is not a suitable representative for Christians in America. Mormonism is by no means a Christian Religion, and any True Christian can tell you that...

Glen began speaking politics only on his shows, then his heart lead him to other places (God) when he saw all the corruption,backroom deals,deceit, etc.
If I had not watched him for sometime, heard his earnest message to pay attention to not only God, but history, clips of politicians saying what their intentions are (scary-the politicians own words-video clips)I probably wouldn't understand either. A 5 minute media coverage won't do either-it is reported with so many distortions. I watch it, I listen, I research myself..He doesn't lie..I also watch ALL diff media sources- CNN/ MSNBC or mainstream media report things so different. Becarefull taking their word as truth. While Glen may be a Morman,,,I don't care. I am a Christian..He carries many of the same ethics I do-and honestly...He is telling everyone to put God first...pray..take care of family/others..I know I am not the only one who feels this way- when I was at church (a large one-mega) I was speaking to an older couple-wife in wheelchair...I asked what they best thing they did this summer...they said-we went to the Glen Beck DC rally...For God/family/etc.It was so moving. They took the time to go--I as well as many others wanted to go-couldn't..His wife in a wheelchair--older (late 70's/early 80's)...they felt the need to go and be apart of something special.
So while Glen is a tv personality---he is also raising the bar for us to step up. He ALWAYS states-he is not a pastor/religious leader--I KNOW THAT.
Stop listening to liberal left media....they do have an agenda-don't buy into it. I want to know why people who discuss Glen in a bad way never watch him..I mean really watch him- try for 2 weeks straight...You will see.I have been in Christian School growing up/always went to church,still do.,so really-I know I am quite sane in this matter...
He may discuss politics-and you may not like what you hear/see,but he backs it up.. And what is so wrong with him discussing God- Nothing..
Don't shoot the messenger because you may not like the message (even if it's true!)

Basil, Ted, Rob and others critical of Beck's faith should listen again, without the blinders of condescension and politics and envy. Beck challenges viewers/listeners to dedicate themselves to God, to their families and to living lives of active faith. He calls those attending rallies and meeting to return kindness for insult, to be non-violent. Beck advocates personal integrity, which is NOT the same as "every man for himself". The church has increasingly abdicated charity to the government. Look around: what worked better -not perfectly, but better- to help people out of poverty and illness and addiction? Government programs, or communities of faith working to change lives? What qualifies a Jim Wallis more than Beck? His degree? His "correct" political views? Be careful - the mainstream church is beginning to sound a lot like the Pharisees. Who are we to tell God who He can or cannot use to speak truth to power?

After a morning of worship and Word and Table I read the article again. Something had been worming and naggling around, something I couldn't put a finger on that was just off about this article. Then, reading and reading it came like a bell: "Why?"

Why does it matter if any percentage of "Americans " don't think Glenn Beck is the right man to lead a religious movement. Why is that the question being asked? Beck has never claimed to be a religious leader, and he isn't running for anything. So why ask the question? Specifically, why would Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service ask the question? One of the things Beck does over and over is to tell viewers/listeners to go to the source. So go to the source, and just a few clicks takes you from the PRRI/RNS link by link from PRRI to several other web sites on the Progressive/Liberal side of center. The co-founder's new book, "Progressive and Religious" has dust jacket praise from Jim Wallis, e.j. dionne and Feisal Abdul Rauf. Follow a few more links, google a few more names, and PRRI's claim to be "non-partisan" feels less and less believable. So I ask again: why was the question asked? To get people to question Beck's fitness to lead a non-existent religious movement? Or to get people to question Beck's ideas altogether? Beck neither hides his Mormonism, nor does he "Preach" it. So why should his particular brand of faith matter? Unless, of course, identifying Beck with Mormonism could discredit his leadership of this amorphous religious movement Beck never claimed to lead anyway.

Somebody has a bee in their birretta, and I don't think it's Glenn Beck.

There are many things to like about Glenn. His personal story is one of redemption and overcoming addiction. He has goofy yet sincere persona. He seems to really enjoy learning and teaching new things.

The problem with Glenn is that, one show, he is talking about God, faith, obedience, humility, and turning the other check. Then, the next show, he is engaged in fear-mongering, conspiracy theories, guilt-by-association, and character assassination.

The first message is at least consistent with evangelical faith (even if Glen's personal faith isn't). The second is not consistent with our faith, but merely represents the baser elements of American politics.

Glenn Beck is trying to get this country to return to its Christian roots. No, I don't agree with all of the theology of his church, but I do know this: Glenn Beck has unashamedly stood on television and at his rallies saying that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to salvation. I have heard him say this myself on many occasions.

He spoke at the commencement ceremony at Liberty University, and his message was FULL of the gospel. Not the Mormon gospel, the simple gospel that Christ died for our sins. James Robison and James Dobson have reached out to him. We don't have to agree with every fine point of his theology to appreciate that he is saying things this country needs to hear, and many of the people he reaches don't go to church.

If James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., and James Robison think he's fit to fellowship with, then he's good enough for me!

Terry L.: I am reserving judgment on Beck, as I don't know enough about him yet. But if he is a typical Mormon, he is not "trying to get this country to return to its Christian roots." Mormonism teaches that the true gospel was lost by the close of the apostolic era, and not restored until the time of Joseph Smith (ca 1830). All the churches and creeds that existed at the time of the founding of our republic are considered by Mormonism as corrupt and abominable. No true and honest follower of Joseph Smith would consider our founders Christian.