Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tension Among Evangeicals Over Beck "Off the Reservation"

Julie Ingersoll, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Florida, has an interesting article in Religion Dispatches titled "Evangelical Tells Beck He's 'Off the Reservation'". The article describes a recent episode of an evangelical radio program hosted by Brannon Howse who expressed concerns that radio talk show host and Fox Television host Glenn Beck is trying to lead folks astray and into Mormonism. Howse is quoted as expressing his concerns in this way:
"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. . . ."
Of course, it didn't help that Howse's guest was Ed Decker, an extreme member of the evangelical counter-cult community with the organization Saints Alive who has specialized in painting caricatures of Mormonism, literally in the case of his film The Godmakers which used animation (an art form associated with children's entertainment in the West) to depict Mormon sacred history and beliefs.

Howse has gone even further on his website, arguing that Beck is not only opening the door for seduction by Mormonism, but Paganism as well. He continues his warning for fellow evangelicals.

Even so, many evangelicals like Howse seem to be willing to set aside theological differences for now given agreement over the political and moral state of the country. However, it remains to be seen how long this will last, and whether the Ed Deckers and Kirk Camerons of Protestant evangelicalism and fundamentalism will become more vocal and issue calls for these camps to distance themselves from Beck.

This interesting situation is part of a historical animosity between evangelicals and Mormons, which may have been tempered in recent years by the decline of the religious right, younger evangelicals who find doctrinal disagreement with other religions a lower social priority than a previous generation of evangelicals, the ongoing evangelical-Mormon dialogue, and a greater willingness to allow political agreement to have priority over theological disagreement. With a possible Mitt Romney presidential bid it will be interesting to see how the Beck phenomenon plays a part as a backdrop.


Anonymous said...

I wish I was a better artist . . . there's a cartoon lurking somewhere in Beck being called a Pagan!

Think Howse would blink if a bunch of us tagged him and said we resented the comparison? ;0)

John W. Morehead said...

I just did a search on this and found that Howse also blames Beck for seduction in the area of Paganism. I just updated the post with a link.

Anonymous said...

(reads, wipes tea from spittake off monitor, continues to LMAO)

Gaaaaaaahhhh . . . brain . . . melting . . .

Okay, we're way past cartoon; I HAVE to find somebody who can do Flash animation. Or I could film a bunch of our crew appearing on this guy's doorstep in full ritual/blot gear with signs saying "You keep him; we don't want him either!" Just to watch his head explode!