I Have a Nightmare: Glenn Beck as Phony Messiah (Politics and Religion Don't Mix!)

Saturday's rally was all about the weird theme that America's honor needs restoring, presumably because somebody's sullied it. But who?
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The budding "prophet" who once described President Obama as a man "who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" declared "something that is beyond man is happening" as he opened his Glenn Beck religious revival at the Lincoln Memorial this weekend.

Beck stated "It is time to start the heart of this nation again." He is wrong. The heart of this nation is beating strongly. This is a deeply spiritual and religious country. Glenn Beck is a false prophet who terrifies his viewers and listeners with tales of an encroaching Godless government takeover (remember cash for clunkers allowing the government to take over your computer?), while at the same time he bosses them around with homespun religious self help ("take the 40 day challenge", he ordered participants at the rally).

On Sunday, no longer held back by his no politics pledge at the rally, Beck launched into a strange analysis of the president's beliefs, in response to Fox News Chris Wallace's question, "Who made you the God Squad?" Bringing in the Pope, liberation theology and Jeremiah Wright, Beck said Obama understands the world through "oppressor and victim", and that his beliefs are "Marxism disguised as religion." While he distanced himself from "I think the President is a racist," he only said "I don't want to retract, I want to amend." And astonishingly, on Friday while discussing liberation theology, Beck told talk show host Joe Madison "I am not a fan of social justice".

Saturday, though, was all about the weird theme that America's honor needs restoring, presumably because somebody's sullied it. But who? This theme went hand in hand with Beck's mantra that America has turned away from God. All this with the incongruous backdrop of the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Keynote speaker Sarah Palin, ever the victim, complained: "Say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet, and you can't take that away from me." Who is trying to take that away from her? Has anyone tried? Who could she be talking about -- conservatives? Liberals, maybe? Hmm. The thing is, I've not seen any anti war rallies with people screaming anti-veteran slogans. All I've heard since 9/11 is support for the troops, even from those who oppose the wars.

Then Sarah Palin said: "We must not fundamentally transform America as some would want; we must restore America and restore her honor." So those who disagree with Palin politically are dishonorable? And who is she saying took America's honor, anyway? Can't we fundamentally disagree and be honorable? Has it come to this?

Glenn Beck's messianic, meandering, mishmash of a speech was hard to follow. (He would have flunked out of Glenn Beck University.) But the nascent megalomaniac said that God told him to do it about four months ago. He claimed "we have fallen asleep as a nation and our churches have fallen asleep." Really? 83% of Americans are affiliated with a religion, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Beck said "For too long, this country has wandered in darkness." What does that even mean? Does it mean the darkness created by Beck who has said things like: "You don't take the name Barack to identify with America" and "I think the president is a racist"? Or is he referring to the darkness somehow created by people who don't think like him? It's an empty statement, for a tent revival.

While insisting that the rally was not political, Beck, like Palin, slipped up and wandered into politics. He said "our children could be slaves to debt." Is that the "darkness"? Is that how the nation has fallen asleep?

It's smoke and mirrors. The audience knew it, too. They saw through the code being spoken, but they didn't care because it was a chance to worship at the Beck altar. For many of them, politics and religion are a heady mix. There was a pamphlet available with a picture of President Obama with a Hitler mustache (almost obligatory at tea party leaning events), as well as flags and "dump Obama" fliers.

Robert McCartney of the Washington Post talked to participants. They didn't talk about religion. They talked about politics: high taxes, lawmakers who don't listen, inadequate veterans' benefits.

Beck told the audience that everybody needed to go to "God boot camp." He seemed to become intoxicated with his own words, with the power he thought he had to order people's spiritual lives. Ultimately, his speech was about him, a massive mind orgasm based on the false premise that he had said something that would endure.

Beck is a wildly popular, sad, pathetic man, who latches onto Martin Luther King now that King's an icon, and who also says President Obama wants to settle "old racial scores." He's part of the teddybearification of Martin Luther King, who was a radical in his own time. Would Beck have been palling around with this King?

It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either
nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a
greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations
and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the
abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno
that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.

I think not.

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