First things first. Mormons are not Evangelical Christians. Glenn Beck is a Mormon. Glenn Beck attempts to move in the world of Evangelical Christianity and even adopts the narrative to put himself in a position to benefit from it.
But what Mormons believe have nothing in common with what Evangelical Christians believe.
I used to be a Mormon. I know what Mormons believe. And it’s not compatible with what mainstream or Evangelical Christians believe.
Don’t get me wrong. The Mormons I met were nice people. The girls were pretty in their dresses, the men friendly and outgoing, and all of them welcoming to a new convert.
Then the women went into their little room to do their thing while the men, all holding the Melchizedek priesthood, went into theirs. Without their wives.
It was disconcerting to say the least. It wasn’t that women were told to be silent and stay at the back of the room. They weren’t allowed into the room at all.
I know a few Evangelical women. I don’t know any of them who would be content with this relegation to inconsequentiality.
Nor is Jesus the end all of Mormonism. Evangelical Christianity is all about Jesus. The Catholics have Virgin Mary, and Jews have YHWH, but Evangelicals are all about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
You see, Mormonism is not really monotheism. Many Christians, as it happens, are not strict monotheists. I know Evangelicals who accept that other gods exist but relegate them to second-class status. This, much to their heated denials, actually makes them polytheists.
But not only are the Mormons NOT monotheists, but they say you can be a god too.
You see, the gods are – were – just people like you and me, but through a life of righteousness they ascended into heaven. They did not sit next to the Lord Almighty. They became Lord Almighties. They became gods in their own right and ruled over other worlds.
When they told me this I was astounded. I had never expected that, of all things.
I asked, “Why did you keep this from me?”
They answered, “It would have been putting the dessert before the meat.”
It also sent me running for the hills. Never looked back. Bishop, I’m done.
Easier in than out, but I finally got it done and was much the wiser.
And yes, I turned down the chance to be a god.
Evangelical Christians seem content with Mormon polytheism when it serves their ends, like with Proposition 8 in California, which was largely an “out of town job” by Mormons and Mormon money. You can overlook the odd god here and there if the money is right.
But Glenn isn’t one of them. He never will be. He pretends to be. He talks the talk. But he can’t walk the walk, not and be true to his beliefs, and we have to give him the benefit of the doubt there.
You see, the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with Jesus’ birth, according to Mormon theology. You simply cannot imagine Evangelical Christianity without the Holy Spirit.
What the two groups often have in common is hate of the constructed other. Gays, lesbians, atheists, pagans, feminists, secular humanists, etc. All the people Jerry Falwell blamed for 9/11. The Religious Right’s “usual suspects.”
Some Christians are worried about corruption creeping into their religion. This was a fear voiced by John. Read his first letter, 2:9-11, where he warns of those who “run ahead” – in other words, people who preach a progressive doctrine, for these teachings have no part in God. Some then, see Mormonism in this light, just as Catholics see Protestants this way and Protestants see Catholics.
It’s really quite a mess, so when you hear about a “moral majority” or a “religious right” you have to remember that these people represent a minority of voters. Their talk gives them an image of power that is all out of proportion to their numbers. So does their money.
They are not a majority. They do not represent the average American. Many mainstream Christians, if they walked into a Pentecostal service, would not recognize the participants as Christians. They would flee in terror. Pentecostals visiting a run-of-the-mill such as that I grew up in would be shocked by the apparent absence of the “Holy Spirit.”
Now the real problem comes in when Glenn Beck questions President Obama’s Christianity. As should be obvious from the above, if the Nicene Creed defines Christianity then Beck himself is no Christian, and is far from entitled to question the President’s religious credentials.
But that is exactly what Beck has been doing. Beck says of President Obama’s Christianity that it is a “perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
This from a man who thinks the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with Jesus’ birth, who thinks Jesus was not even divine.
Most mainstream Christian would, I am sure, if aware of this, be aghast at Beck’s words.
Beck has co-opted the Christian narrative for his own purposes. He is preaching what he obviously does not, and cannot believe given his Mormonism.
Are mainstream Christians aware of this disconnect between Beck and his message? This has been noticed by some on the Religious Right. Some, but not enough.
On Tuesday night Beck said, “The president apparently has a deeply held belief that his salvation cannot come without a collective salvation. I don’t know what that is,” he continued, “other than it’s not Muslim, it’s not Christian. It’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it.”
As are Beck’s beliefs about Jesus Christ, if only most Christians knew it.
If not, they should wake up, because they’re being led along a primrose path by a man who by their own understanding of such things is spreading a false gospel.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.