By now Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday is old news. The event has been sliced and diced every way possible. I have my own thoughts about the rally, especially the decision- foolish from my angle- to claim the date and location of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, but I’ll withhold those for now. I’m interested rather in how many Christians are distancing themselves from Glenn Beck even as he increasingly claims religious language to advance his aims.
Time Magazine’s Amy Sullivan thinks the dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Russell Moore, is the best example of American Christians who are discovering the need to distinguish themselves from Beck. Moore warns against, “vacuous talk about undefined ‘revival’ and ‘turning America back to God’ that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.”
It’s noteworthy that both First Things and Relevant Magazine– Christian publications whose readers occupy different places along the political spectrum- reprinted Moore’s challenge. It seems Christians of all stripes are feeling the need to distinguish their faith from the religion expressed by the Beck.
Which raises a question: How important is it to distance yourself from a public personality whose version of Christianity you disagree with? (In Beck’s case the question is more nuanced given his Mormon faith, though this hasn’t dampened the distancing reaction by many Christians.) The other evening my wife and I were discussing our unease at being associated with Beck’s brand of religion, especially by friends who don’t share our Christian faith. Does his language about faith, God and religion in some way connect us with him in the eyes of those friends?
Complicating all of this is the fact that many American Christians, some of you perhaps, do not mind being associated with Beck. While there may be areas of disagreement, these folks find themselves generally approving of his message. When I publicly disagree with any Christian “spokesperson” I’m also disagreeing with members of my Christian family.
Please chime in. How do you think about this? Do you have a threshold that a Christian spokesperson has to cross before you feel the need to distance yourself from him/her? Do your friendships with Christians of different political and ideological persuasions temper your responses to people like Beck? Do you regularly find yourself in conversations with friends who don’t share your faith about how you’re not “that” kind of a Christian?
As always, your charitable comments are welcome.