Until Glenn Beck came along, the only televangelist I ever found intriguing enough to give a damn about was decades back when Jim Bakker was building his impressive “Heritage Village” and Heritage USA theme park, which once almost rivaled Disneyland. Bakker had his time in the sun back in the mid 1980’s to about 1987, in the heyday of televangelism. It was a time when any evangelical, born-again, charismatic, freelance, weird-arsed pastor of some half-legitimate denomination could invent his own religion from scratch and promulgate whatever quasi-Biblical theories he pulled out of his backside and put it on the broadcast airwaves in almost complete secrecy. Nobody but the zealots were watching what went on, and you had to know what backwater radio or TV channel to dial in at some usually unpopular hour of the day to get the message. They had a favorable Conservative administration going for them and it was years before YouTube or Facebook made it a sure bet you would find every dumb-assed thing you said five minutes ago spread all over the globe for everyone to laugh at. The fact is, Bakker had me just about convinced that he was at least sincere in his Christian intentions when I suddenly found him exposed for frolicking with a church secretary in the storage closet on the cover of all the tabloids.
All Glenn Beck needs is a heavy coat of mascara to make those crying jags visually spectacular and he’d even equal good old Tammy Faye Bakker’s shows of sincerity as she begged the viewing audience to help save their ministry for the good of the children and families they were serving. Not my main point. Sort of a cheap shot. But it had to be said.
Jim and Tammy’s “ministry” fell into one of the categories of the tent-show fraternity I’d have to classify as the “Drama Queen” school of fund raising. Faith Healers would be another sub-category of the broadcast revival tent circuit. Another evangelical branch calls itself the “Faith Message” or “Whole Gospel” ministry. The Drama Queens make their money and converts by building some huge, ostensibly beneficial monument to their own greatness or charity—like a Christian Family Theme Park, or a Children’s Medical Center, or a University. Every week then they invent (usually legitimate) some financial crisis that will destroy all their great work within days if such-and-such a donation goal is not met. The Faith Healers ostensibly obliterate cancers and tumors, re-grow kidneys and broken bones, speak holy-sounding gibberish whenever plain English isn’t selling the crowd, and for this entertainment their followers are so impressed by these Spiritual gifts that they throw money at them. The Faith Message types tell you that God wants you to be rich and all you have to do is prove your faith by sending them your paycheck every week and God will return it tenfold, or an hundredfold. They’ll also bless handkerchiefs and mail you one for a price as a “prayer cloth,” whatever that is. And of course, they all diversify and cross in and out along any of these lines as opportunity arises. Glenn Beck too, expropriates many of these techniques but his message doesn’t much fit into any of these main mission statements. Glenn Beck is however, a very keen member of what I call “The Prophet’s Club.”
Glenn Beck didn’t invent eschatology—the peculiar Christian hobby of pondering mostly Bible-based “End Time” scenarios. But he’s the leading exponent of the craft today. But again, he’s functioning on a slightly different plane of existence than say, Hal Lindsay, the 1970’s Christian author who wrote the oddly popular The Late Great Planet Earth, popularizing his Zionist fables about the Book of Revelations that fadded out a generation ago but keep getting revived.
The thing about predicting the End of the World is, if you keep at it long enough eventually somebody will be right.
Obviously, as a Mormon, Glenn Beck also isn’t quite in sync with Lindsay’s fellow dispensationalists, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, who in 1995 began their sixteen volume best-selling Christian series called Left Behind, attempting to scare the bejeezes out of their Christian readership just enough to cling to their faith in Christ–but hopefully not their wallets. Or, God forbid, give all their money and property away before buying the complete series.
Lindsay, LaHaye and Jenkins’ Rapture craze is still limping onward into the 21st century. Christians, mostly young ones, still buy their books, watch the particularly lame movie offshoots mostly under duress on a youth night with the hip young pastor “Bob” who wears a turtleneck and sweater vest instead of vestments or a suit and tie, and for those whom this Rapture scare is still new enough to be rapturous, they find consolation and peace in imaging they will thus avoid the imminent tribulations fated for the infidels and lesser Christians at the rise of the Antichrist, in their chronology, some seven years or so before the Glorious Second Coming in “Power.”
Granted, Glenn Beck’s founding Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, was himself well into the dispensationalist, End Time-scenario camp. Dispensationalism was a school of Biblical examination that evolved most vigorously going into the first frenzied expectation of Christ’s mighty return at the end of the first millennium AD. It received another big boost going into the turn of this last millennium. Sadly, the program of the Second Coming repeatedly failed to go as its watchers and scholars planned, so the various Christian, Mormon and other apologists attempted to explain inconsistencies and outright contradictions in the way God and His relationship to mankind was portrayed in Holy Writ by making God’s Word contingent upon a related timetable of human development or Divine cultivation of the human race. If God didn’t “change” it seemed that at least the way he dealt with man, his rules, his commandments, his timing, math and calendaring, even his physical nature or lack thereof apparently did, as recorded through the ages, and throughout a host of changing environmental, social, and political venues all over the Bible, particularly between the Old and New Testaments. So theologians invented (I mean found evidence in the Bible…) that God had actually planned His Creation (and un-Creation) timetable in distinct epochs, or “dispensations,” each with sometimes radically different game plans, schedules, and therefore rules.
Unlike Christians, Mormons gravitated to a concept of non-fixed dispensations, of no particular set time period. The whole business of Apocalyptic Bible math never really figured into the Mormon Second Coming narratives. Date setting at least in official Mormon circles has never had much to do with their constant expectation that it could happen at any moment without warning. Or not. And early Mormon depictions of Jesus returning showed Him zooming down the Salt Lake Valley from On High to pop into the Salt Lake temple apparently.
In several Christian eschatological schools there emerged a promised period known as the “Rapture,” where the followers of Jesus would be caught up in glory at His Coming. Only after His chosen ones were safe in His bosom would God let all the bad things prophesied in the Apocalypse begin, like the seven-year rise and rule of Satan or the Anti-Christ on earth. This was first popularized by John Nelson Darby in the 19th century. As the time of “Tribulation” commences, it is generally boasted that the Christians (the true ones that is) would get a ringside seat in Paradise to watch their foolish non-Christian mortal compatriots suffer below. These theories are based in Biblical verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:15–7 . The pre/mid/-Tribulation Rapture theories became extremely popular around the turn of the 20th century. Hal Lindsay made the pre-Tribulation version most fabulously popular at the present.
Important “dispensations” in Christian and Mormon eschatology include particularly what the Mormons call the “Dispensation of the Fullness of Times,” in which Jesus returns in glory. In Mormon theory, and many Christian schools, there follows a thousand years of perfect, Godly earth life where evil is swept clean from the planet. Before that however, there is also this Tribulation time, featuring a the direct rule of Satan on earth and a big hairy battle to kick him and his followers out when Jesus comes. Generally, it is proposed that there are seven of these dispensations throughout Biblical time, and a lot of dispensationalist thought connects directly to the “Seven Seals” mentioned in Revelation 8. This passage discusses the opening of some figurative, “Seventh Seal,” which also has seven subsets of prophetic or allegorically predicted historical events that then ensue. Again, generally, with a few other favorite scriptures like the prophetic writings of Daniel, which they link all together, those who either try to narrow down the season of Christ’s Return, or those who actually try to name a date or a year, imagine it’s just a question of figuring out the symbolism, connecting it to current events and world players, and BINGO!
It is often assumed in the Mormon church that Joseph Smith, like his Christian competitors, spoke a lot about the Book of Relations or the End Time prophecies of Daniel and overtly engaged in promoting the imminent End of the World. This isn’t really true. He seems instead to have addressed the whole matter of sign-seeking and date-setting and Second Coming-guessing only to shut up those amongst his flock who were so caught up in the notion that Jesus would be in town by the weekend, that he felt obligated to set them straight.
In all honesty, while Glenn Beck may have it all figured out, not even Joseph Smith entirely nailed the subject of Christ’s Return before he was murdered. Indeed, neither the Mormon nor the Christian has ever been in agreement even amongst themselves over the order in which these Apocalyptic dispensations or inter-dispensational events will take place. Conclusions drawn from even the canon is up to great debate and there is no consensus. Furthermore, Apocalyptic prophecies outside the Bible have always been sucked into the eschatological whirlwind of signposts and revelatory wonderments, from Nostradamus (Nostradumbass as I call him) to the contemporary apostate Mormon version, the “Parowan Prophet.”
In 1984, a fringe lunatic in the outer reaches of the Utah wilderness named Leland Freeborn, foresaw nuclear mushroom clouds rising over the Wasatch Front and it got published in a regional rural tabloid. For a week or so his babblings sent half the state into U-Haul yards to load up their survival kits and head into the safety of Monument Valley several hundred miles south. The other half the state had “End of the World” parties at BYU and in public parks throughout Salt Lake City. The lines of believers-vs-scoffers were not drawn upon the usual Mormon/non-Mormon lines either. If that weren’t dumbfounding enough, the same character is still in business and has authored numerous “prophecies” right up to the present, which also haven’t come close to panning out. These include nationwide riots that the Russians were supposed to foment and take advantage of to lob nukes at the US after the election of Barack Obama, which Freeborn forecast in 2008.
In the Mormon continuum, those same ostensibly devout Mormons who in 1984 trotted off to the canyons on the say-so of one of their apostate nutcases, were already food storaged-up and had head-fulls of paranoid Cold War nuke-yuh-lur hole-uh-cost scenarios and generations of LDS leadership perpetually urging each member to store a “year’s supply,” stemming primarily from the Great Depression era dustbowl mentality. Mormons have been infiltrated for decades now by political theories about a Soviet invasion and destruction of America, and this originally from the John Birch society, which became an insidious polluter of Mormon popular doctrine in the very late 50’s and early 1960’s, when church leaders like then apostle, and eventually president, Ezra Taft Benson, said it was the best thing since sliced bread. Mormonism has been sprung tight and fully cocked on a hair-trigger for generations, just waiting for the word to come down from On High or “The Balloon” to go up.
The Christian camp was also affected by the emergence of late-50’s Birch Society political conspiracies, but had always entertained its own uniquely paranoid evangelical fears as well. Since the late 70’s a faddish wave of Christian doomsayers that struggles for life still today, has produced numerous even more widely attended evangelical Christian versions of Utah’s quasi-Mormonish Leeland Freeborn. This began with American cultural overthrow theories centered around “cults,” which word incidentally, they so entirely re-defined in popular usage to always infer a Satanic or evil connotation that academia abandoned the word in favor of “newly emerging religions” in the 1980’s.
Most Christian prognosticators of Doomsday generally grasp at any prominent natural disaster, or rise of any petty tyrant in the political world, even the success of any particularly powerful capitalist who seems to be getting his way too much, as a timeline marker they link to one intellectually challenged Biblical signpost or another. None of them ever sticks entirely to the Bible or “orthodox” Christian sources any more than the Mormons and quack-Mormons stick to their “authorized” sources. Not even the late Walter Martin, author of Kingdom of the Cults who first got the “cult” epithet to stick to Mormonism in the early 1970’s, actually based any of his dire warnings of a coming swarm of Satanic Pagans and Mormons, on either the Bible or for that matter, reality. His believers of course claim however, that this is exactly what he did—drew his conclusions entirely from the Bible.
Walter Martin in fact set himself up to be America’s primary judge of Christian orthodoxy, and his first effort in 1955, was to declare the Seventh-day Adventists “orthodox,” subclassing them as in the evangelical branch of the Church. This really pissed off most of evangelicals, but Martin stuck to his guns and went on to found the Christian Research Institute in 1960. The Christian Research Institute, went on to stick the label “cult” to anyone or anything Walter Martin didn’t think made the Christian roster, and he kept at them until it stuck in popular culture. He didn’t just go after Mormons and Moonies, he scrapped with many of his contemporaries in the “Christian” ministry field, and even hosted a self-descriptive radio show he titled, “The Bible Answer Man.” Martin and his CRI were one of the first pillars of a resurging American Christian purity movement that became the current Christian Nation Movement. The whole train of thought moving this forward is the notion of first purging the Church of “cults” and false Christians, and then purging the nation of them.
Walter Martin, the man who wrote The Rise of the Cults in 1955, and put Mormonism squarely in the threatening pack of “cults” on the rise, is also the mentor and forefather to most of the people Glenn Beck is now trying to rally behind him to put God back on the political throne of the United States of America. Unfortunately for Beck, they’re fine with putting God back on the throne of American government, they just don’t think it’s Glenn Beck’s God they want there.
Going into the 1980’s, evangelical Christian hucksters began expanding upon Walter Martin’s anti-“cult” theories. Foremost of these would be subsequent witch hunters like Bob Larson and his Talk Radio conversations with demon-possessed teenagers, Bill Schnoebelen and his travelling xenophobe show where he reveals the dark secrets of every Godless secret order ever rumored to exist because he’s apparently been a major officer in all of them at one time or another, and the likes of the infamous Ed Decker and Dave Hunt, who really boosted anti-Mormonism in 1984, when they found the perfect boogie man for the young naïve Christian by making up outright fables about Mormonism and “proved” it clearly to a generation of Christianity’s most gullible servants by combining mostly fake footnotes and a load of nonsense with every anti-Mormon rumor ever recorded over the generations into the comically inflated book of blood libels, The Godmakers. Seeking bigger and bigger spiritual thrills, Christian conspiracy nuts moved their efforts forward into an evangelical social movement against what they now called the “occult,” taking it up a notch.
While not politically organized at first, the 70’s-late 1980’s burst of Christian End Time fury was propelled by theories about a fictional rise in Ritual Satanic Abuse, witchcraft, and devil worship in general. This occultic connection fad died out of the Christian medicine show circuit towards the end of the 1990’s, when several psychological investigations proved that these spook finders had created an hysterical mental illness plague they’d hyped into existence themselves. It was a classic case of self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, by then many of them were calling themselves “prophets,” and had redefined the word enough at least in the Charismatic sects to be comfortable applying it to themselves and those they felt spoke for God, even if it was in a stream of glossallalial gibberish. Bob Larson’s dialogue with teen demons got repeatedly exposed as nothing more than the classic use of a shill on the other end of the phone, and his travelling exorcism show likewise got caught with it’s pants down when various journalists exposed his use of shills and paid players in the act. Larson turned out also to have invented a “Vanilla Ice” sort of phony rock-and-roll background he used as a basis to impress his teen ministry client base. He claimed Jesus saved him from a debauched history of playing rock music at Christian youth dances, where he deliberately corrupted whole churches. Turns out he never had much of a band, it wasn’t very edgy anyway, and those who remember those youth dances say his tales of debauchery and drink were total bunk. Bob had his fake epiphany, formed a youth anti-rock ministry, and Bob and Christianity’s youth were saved etc. In his dreams that is.
When the Christian public actually got to the point that it knew enough Mormons that didn’t find Mormonism scary enough to pay money to see it berated, Decker and Hunt did their best to move into the anti-Masonic, “cult,” and various evil conspiracy trade. They also tried to boost their claims against Mormonism in light of several exposes of their utter lack of scholarship or basic accuracy in The Godmakers, and tried to pin the full “occult” label onto Mormonism. They hopped up their anti-Mormon efforts with a movie release and expanded their asinine circus act which featured models prancing onstage in “Mormon Magic Underwear,” and so forth, took it on the road around the nation’s church basements and fellowship halls, until at one point even the seasoned, venerated, anti-Mormon ministry run by Gerald and Sandra Tanner had to tell them basically to shut the feck up because they had no idea what they were talking about.
And to round out the era, Walter Martin suddenly died in 1989 and Hank Hanegraff, his sidekick for years, took over the CRI and the post of Bible Answer Man—and went about almost immediately reversing most of Martin’s theology, by thoroughly trashing the entire concept of a Pre-Millennial Rapture and Dispensationalism in general.
In fairness to Glenn Beck’s Christian friends and rivals, the Bible does talk about an event Christians can reasonably call the “Rapture,” in general terms. The most popular timing of this event however, in historical terms, has been after the Tribulation period. The Tribulation is basically shared ecumenically in the Apocalyptic trade. The highly debatable pre-Tribulation relocation of Christian ascension to Jesus however, allows the faithful to skip out on the openly Satanic domination of mankind the Tribulation is predicted to hold for anyone around to see it. All I can say is, this seems basically just a rather convenient recruiting tool.
In most modern End Time scenarios, Christian, Mormon, or otherwise, the Antichrist takes over the UN, seizes control of Israel, and presents himself to the world as its Savior. Somewhere in there the world fights the ultimate battle of good over evil in the valley of Har Megiddo, or Armageddon, which again is something the pre-Tribulatory Rapture proponents say the faithful get to avoid. Unfortunately, Even following a single narration of all the available and highly varied End Time theology is too complicated to outline in a few volumes, much less a few paragraphs. The whole End Time calendar suffice it to say, is and always has been highly subjective and only vaguely doctrinal in whatever Christian sect or denomination it has been formulated. This includes the Mormon version–or, make that Mormon versions.
Contrary to popular belief–even in the LDS population itself–the LDS church has never officially gotten into the “Chicken Little” business, except in the most vague and general way of urging preparedness for when it happens, whenever that might be, always however, conveniently including the allowance that it could happen at any time—including immediately. This nudge and a wink about possible End Time imminence from latter-day prophets is every bit as motivating to the Mormon body of faithful as a specific date and time would be to any run-of-the-mill devout Christian who has been sold on nailing the Rapture down to the split-second via strict Biblical numerology. It works even better than naming a date or specific signs of approaching doom–leaving Mormons free to imagine and infer any number of secret messages eminating subtly from the “Brethren,” and also leaves them free to plot their escape from whatever sort of impending destruction they fill the void with.
In order to homogenize John Birch-like political conspiracies, current events, a delusional sense of chosenness and paranoid fear of non-Christians or “cults,” most so-called “historical” Christians who specialize in these End Time Biblical passages, have had to accept key changes in their attitude toward the “Christ Killers,” or in polite terms, the Jews. And to be quite sure, “Christ Killers” is exactly as they have been clearly described by very many Christian Church Fathers through the centuries. That the Jewish race has been cursed by “historical” Christianity is not debatable given the plethora of historical Christian literature and dogma blatantly saying so. Luther and Calvin both were raving anti-Semites so you can’t blame it all on the Popes either. The reason for this recent, American Christian evangelical change of heart on the subject of Judaism, is that by actually reading many of these prophetic Biblical scriptures, these modern Christian scholars and Apocalyptic dabblers came to the sudden realization that the Jews are in fact still God’s Chosen People. Jesus, they realized, was a Jew. Jesus was also apparently quite happy being a Jew. Jesus came specifically to minister to his own people, the Jews, not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, not the Holy Roman Empire, not the Eastern Church founded by the Hellenized, Roman Jew, Saul of Tarsus, who wanted to kill Jesus. (St. Paul.)
In normal context Christianity has been able to explain away the Jewish Biblical blessing by claiming that they had their chance and blew it. They killed their own Messiah. Through Paul, most Protestants and the Eastern Church claim God took His blessing to the Gentiles and cast the Jews all over the face of the earth, cursing them as punishment. The Jews therefore have always made a comfortable fit in a host of Birch-like World conspiracies. For the Christian eschatologist however, in putting all the canonical evidences together and trying to make sense out of them, it became obvious that the re-establishment of the nation of Israel, the rebuilding of the temple there and an expected righteous Jewish return to the sacrifices of the Law of Moses, would be central to the whole series of Biblical events wrapping up man’s time on earth. This got them tagged with the epithet, “Christian Zionists.”
Mind you, not all Christian prophets of doom are on board with the idea of inextricably linking the End Time fate of the United States of America and the return of Christ to receive a Jewish Zion in Israel. Rather a lot of them figure Jesus and His New Jerusalem will be moved to southern California or something, and the Jews are going to be left holding the the bag as He thumbs his anthropomorphic nose at them while the Destroying Angel bakes them in a smoking crater after Armageddon. Many of them think Jesus is coming, and He may be coming back to Israel, but when He gets there it’s payback time for thems what done Him in.
At a rally sponsored by Jim Robison’s “Religious Roundtable” in 1980, Bailey Smith, then president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said:
“It is interesting at great political rallies how you have a Protestant to pray, a Catholic to pray, and then you have a Jew to pray. With all due respect to those dear people, my friends, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.”
The late Jerry Falwell, Founder of the Moral Majority, and one of the “Christian Nation” movement’s first notable Christian Zionists, tried to recover:
“This is the time for Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Mormons, and all Americans to rise above every effort to polarize us in our efforts to return the nation to a commitment to the moral values on which America was built.”
Religion in America , W. Hudson, 1987, MacMillan, page 400, and also on page 186 of Southern Baptist Holy War , 1986, J. Barnhart, Texas Monthly Press, Austin TX.
Glenn Beck as a Mormon wasn’t the first to come up against Christianity’s problem with an Israel-based Apocalyptic orientation. The late Jerry Falwell, the late James Kennedy, founders of Christian lobby groups like the CRI, the American Family Institute and others, the originators of the latest Christian Nation movement, were banging heads with their own kind on the issue for over three decades before Glenn Beck ever climbed out of his bottle, got out of “Morning Zoo” Top-40 radio and discovered both God and the Talk-Jock format apparently at the same moment.
Though the Christian Nation movement is often linking the Ten Commandments with the Sermon on the Mount as the “Judeo-Christian” basis of American law and justice, neither of these is actually even implied in the Constitution. And most Christian Constitutional advocates would have a hard time accepting anything “Jewish” from the pages of the Bible except for those Ten Commandments. In reality, the Christian Nation tent is a very small and exclusive one Mormons have never been, and never will be invited into with universal applause. If “authorities” and founders of the Christian Nation movement like Walter Martin don’t even think Roman Catholics make the cut, Mormons and Jews certainly won’t ever pass the muster.
While Christians are late in combining their “Christian Nation” theories with Apocalyptic Zionism, Mormons, if nothing else, have in fact led the charge in promulgating, and probably inventing, American Christian Zionism. As early as 1840-41, at the height of his own persecution and travails, Joseph Smith sent the Jewish convert Orson Hyde to Palestine to dedicate the land for the gathering of Israel. Most of Christianity at the time was very keen on seeing that this Jewish national and cultural reassembly did not happen. For instance, a lot of faithful Russian Orthodox lads presumed to throw Christ’s deadly retribution at the Jews very directly in the Czarist era pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some good Lutheran boys followed the trend toward ridding the Christian Master Race of the Jewish pests in NAZI Germany–trying to insure that the “diaspora” became the “die-outspora.” In contrast, the Mormon Orson Hyde was charged with the assignment to dedicate the Holy Land (not Utah mind you, the other Holy Land) for the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple, the return of Israel from the diaspora, and the coming of the Lord to receive and bless His Chosen Ones. (And Glenn Beck plans to be there when it happens, so get your tickets soon…) In the meantime, Joseph Smith was laying out street maps and architectural plans for the raising of New Jerusalem at Adam Ondi Ahman (billed as the site of the original Garden of Eden) along the east bluffs of the Grand River in Daviess County Missouri. In short, Mormons have always connected the US and Israel as the two choice nations uniquely sanctioned by God at the End of Days.
Mormons are so pro-Jew they believe that baptism into the church constitutes an adoption into the House Of Israel. They believe descendants of the tribe of Levi have the right to preside as a local bishop without counselors. For generations they called non-Mormons “Gentiles,” unless they were Jews.
Now, Glenn Beck and most other Mormons may mock the ongoing parade of Rapture-based Christian prophets of doom in the media today, but the truth is, Mormonism has never been lacking in any of the same sort of speculations from the time of Joseph Smith onward. The early Saints wrote and acted both politically and doctrinally as if they thought Christ might show up at any moment, or at least by next week—a couple of months, maybe a year tops. The whole point of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints, which was tagged on when Smith ran into legal trademark complications) is to establish an infrastructure through which the returned Lord can administer the Kingdom of God on Earth.
As I began this tome, Glenn Beck was preparing to go on the air and lampoon the latest Christian shmuck to have predicted the Rapture and goofed. Apparently this particular dipchip made the same prediction about a decade ago and missed that one too—but blamed it on a math error and got away with it again this year. Before I had completed my research and started back into my first editing phase a day later, the dork had by then announced that it was an “Invisible Judgment Day,” and that the actual Rapture was going to take place on October 21st—five months off again, due to some damned accounting quirk. Prophecy moves pretty fast these days, so I guess if you’re reading this after 21 October 2011, you’ve been “Left Behind.”
Glenn’s target for particular lambasting the last month or so, has been our latest Rapture predicting cluck, an 88-year-old self-described “Bible student” who is probably going to meet Jesus soon one way or another in any case. His name is Harold Camping, and he’s head of something called “Family Radio Ministries.” He is not the first Christian minister to have to run and hide after one of these false Rapture alerts. There have been hundreds if not thousands of them since it became popular to predict the end of the world, back around the turn of the first century AD.
Beating Camping to the boast this Rapture season, some other Christian twit named Phil Rogers blogged the Rapture date to be January 27th 2011, then corrected himself the day before, and added ten more days for addition mistakes. Then he apologized for the whole thing ten days later, and is still predicting and re-predicting the Rapture based upon other absolutely clear Biblical theories that likewise make his numbers certain.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses still lead the tally board in utterly failed Christ Returns, with scores of them over the last hundred years in their sect alone. In 1988, popular radio preacher and author of 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be In 1988 and On Borrowed Time, Edgar Wisenant, predicted the Rapture would come during Roshashona of that year, early September. Needless to say, the only person who disappeared from the face of the earth on Roshashona in 1988 was Edgar Wisenant.
Glenn Beck is the first commercially successful and widely respected Mormon mass-media evangelist. He’s so far succeeded in this effort by fixating upon only the most universal and superficial, beattitudinal-type Judeo-Christian elements of Biblical wisdom. He’s augmented this by superimposing a presumed common End Time belief over current political and world events that are clearly observable and fairly predictable, while only making the vaguest allusions to the attendant Apocalyptic, Biblical or theological implications of these world-changing elements, leaving his audience free to imagine whatever the hell connection they might want to make. Beck every day in effect, prophesies something big is about to happen, and every day never quite gets around to telling us what it is. And the next day, we all tune in again to see if this is the day he actually spells it all out for us. But no. Just another litany of the dozen or so elements he got “right,” over the year, and a promise at the very end of the show he’s in the process of developing something that will “blow your mind,” but isn’t free to divulge yet.
There is nothing new in Glenn Beck’s bag of tricks. Glenn Beck is what Utah Talk Radio was in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, when I was living in Provo. Beck may not even know that, being originally from the Pacific Northwest as I am. I don’t think Glenn Beck has ever been exposed to the full spectrum of Mormon survivalist, quasi-prophetic lunacy. He doesn’t seem to have been exposed to it long enough to grow jaded, disappointed, and then finally painfully bored with its writhing, evolutionary paranoia that cuts and pastes Holy Writ into regional Mormon folklore, repeatedly trumping up a frenzied narrative pointing to the “Next Big Thing,” that only ever comes up bust. Last week’s collage of random prophecies are shredded and re-pasted into a new roadmap of the Apocalypse, and the process begins again with a new script and a new prophetic leader.
Make no mistake about Glenn Beck. He’s a televangelist. Glenn Beck is running a broadcast ministry. In Mormon culture, this is unprecedented, and the notion of being paid to deliver the Word of God is what Mormons call “priestcraft,” and gets you excommunicated. So he’s treading a thin line there.
Glenn Beck’s argument against the charge of running a religious ministry would no doubt be that he does not specifically proselytize anyone into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He would argue that his message is a universal faith in God, and God’s plan for the United States of America to be a haven for all believers in the “God of Creation,” or “Nature’s God,” as the Founding Fathers often referred to the Supreme Being. What Christians won’t immediately understand, is that this “Savior of the Constitution” scenario is an integral and centrally important principle of the Mormon “Gospel.” There’s nothing inherently sinister or nefarious about this Mormon doctrine at all mind you. Unlike “Historic” Christianity, there is no suggestion or even much of a desire in Mormonism to promote some sort of exclusively Mormon utopian American Government. Mormons simply believe that they are free to exercise their Constitutional rights to vote and motivate and lobby American society and law in as Godly a direction as they can manage within the bounds of the law. If that ends up with Mormons grossly outvoting everyone on everything then so be it. When they talk about “saving” the Constitution, they really mean saving it. For everyone—even the Christian bastards who have been hounding them since 1820. In the Mormon scenario however, nobody should be hounded like that ever again. This is likely one reason the American Family Association rated Mormon Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, one of the most pro-homosexual legislators of 1990 and scored him low on abortion and many other conservative Christian political staples.
Ironically from the Left, Orrin Hatch finds many, including the pro-Gay lobby calling him a homophobic moron for saying that Gays and Lesbians didn’t pay tithing because politics was their religion. Not to mention the whole recent California Proposition 8 movement that singled out Mormons in general for opposing an initiative to make Gay marriage legal in that state. Oxymoronically, Mormon Senator Harry Reed, Democrat from another state largely founded by Mormons, Nevada, as Senate Majority Leader, led the party that was entirely opposed to Proposition 8.
While the Gay Lefties are beating him up, we see that coming from the other direction, the John Birch society–which the Mormon church at one time practically owned–has gone to town on Orrin Hatch for not being a real conservative.
“The distaste for Hatch focused on what many Utah residents see as his capitulation on abortion, gun ownership, and homosexuality. As they arrived at the convention, delegates were handed a letter documenting Hatch’s softness on the all-important right-to-life issue. Some delegates were angered over his refusal to sign a pledge to veto judicial candidates who aren’t opposed to abortion. Upset supporters of the right to own a gun claimed that the Virginia-based Gun Owners of America had correctly blasted him for supporting several measures targeting private ownership of weapons, including a ban on an assortment of weapons in a huge crime bill, controls on sales at gun shows, and enforcement of trigger locks. Others recalled that, in 1990, the American Family Association publicly criticized Hatch for supporting the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and its “funding of pornography and anti-Christian art.”
And that’s also why Mormons are the common enemy of all. Remember that phrase, because it is the key to understanding the religion. The Left lumps Mormonism in with the foaming fundamentalists, and the foaming fundamentalists have been killing and oppressing Mormons for generations as dangerous heretics.
Glenn Beck would likely not see himself as a missionary, but he does indeed attempt to bring people to Christ, he does so however, as Glenn Beck or most Mormons would understand Christ. Beck does so with the inherent Mormon acceptance of anyone who accepts God under any name or title as a good person. To be even plainer, if you don’t sign up with the Mormon missionaries for a dunk, you’re still going to a heavenly paradise more grand than you could imagine. Christ’s sacrifice is universal and His Grace is freely given to all who accept Him—and nearly everyone will accept Christ either here or hereafter, because Mormonism doesn’t close the books when you kick the bucket.
Glenn Beck has no dogmatic reluctance to embrace anyone as a brother or sister in his personal or political work, because Mormons literally believe, unlike Christians, that we were God’s children before this mortal life, we are still God’s children, and we will remain brothers and sisters in the Great Beyond whatever our ultimate reward there may be. Mormons easily accept in a patriotic sense, anyone willing to admit some higher power exists and that this higher power has set America above the worldly rabble of nations to insure freedom and liberty for His/Its children.
The Christian perspective on the status of non-Christians however, is that they’re children of Satan. Full Stop. They burn in hell. Thus, in the Christian’s political realm, non-Christians can only have a Satanic and destructive influence on America, if allowed any political power whatsoever.
On 10 November, 1988, on “The Voice of Americanism,” Dr. Stuart MacBirney recalled his impressions of the summer’s Olympic games:
“As I sat watching the ‘friendship dance’ performed by thousands of Korean traditional dancers, filling the field of Olympic Stadium, while others touched their tear-filled eyes in an expression that the East and West cultures stem from common roots of the Human Family, the Christians watching were left with a sick revulsion at thousands of deluded pagans, pretending we’re all part of the same Human Family, when in fact they are Buddhists and Hindus, sinners condemned to hell, and trying to lure us all into the pit with them.”
There is no universal morality or “Judeo-Christian ethic” for those patriotic, American evangelicals fond of claiming to be “historic” Christians. “God” is the “Word” and the Word is the Bible. In the Christian scheme of things, social, personal, and political freedom is the total submission to Jesus Christ, God, AKA the Bible . The nation can only be free by subjugating “man’s law,” to the Holy Bible. Christians believe no man can be Free unless yoked to the Bible.
James Robison was quite active in the pre-Beck Christian America frenzy before the turn of this century. Those Christian ministers as honest as Robison confessed openly that the entire movement they represent is literally arguing to scrap the legal structure of America in favor of the Bible.
“And if you do not believe the Bible, we have no basis for fellowship. And by believing the Bible, I mean believing that it is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of the living, eternal God, that it’s God breathed, and that it must be proclaimed without apology in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Page 123, Robison’s, Thank God I’m Free .
In the Religious Right boom times of the late 20th century, Christian geniuses like the late James Kennedy even coined a word for what they were doing. Kennedy called it the “Holy Conspiracy.” He was joined by other noted Christian patriots like the late Walter Martin, Hank Hanegraaff, and the Christian Research Institute as it sprang up to fight “cults” and recapture America for Jesus. They published “Christian” voting guides and sponsored “God in Government” conferences to tell you and your elected officials precisely how to exercise “good Christian stewardship.” But in the heady, UHF TV and low-watt radio era of the late 1970’s through the early 1990’s, the Mormons weren’t invited to the last Christian America revolution. Oh yes, Mormonism was tuned in generally, and all geared up to fight the “Cultural War” against the godless liberals, commies and insiders. But when the Mormons all rushed in to help fill the ranks of this army of Christian soldiers, they found the various national associations of “Christian” Boy scouts didn’t even want them at their Camporees.
The same LDS apostle/prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, who got Mormons into the John Birch Society in droves, was a lifelong booster of Scouting. He started in 1918 as an assistant Scout Master as the Mormon church was superseding it’s youth internal organization, the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association with Scouting USA. Young women remained in a separate internal church organization, but the young men were soon surrendered to Lord Baden-Powell until its entire young male religious training program was just a Mormon sponsored branch of Scouting USA. Like the Birch Society, Benson thought the Boy Scouts were very butch, well disciplined, patriotic, and wonderfully woodsy. On May 23, 1949 he was elected to the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He attained all three of the highest national awards in the Boy Scouts of America—the Silver Beaver, the Silver Antelope, and the Silver Buffalo—as well as world Scouting’s international award, the Bronze Wolf.
In the early days of Mormon Scouting, lacking the internet, large HD plasma TV’s, FPS video games and smart phones, most boys loved to dress up, run through the woods, build camp fires, pitch tents and teepees, and pretend they were Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone. Mormon kids, and their older, often no more sophisticated counterparts in leadership, were no different than any other youth of the day, they just preferred to dress up and pretend to be Jim Bridger or Orrin Porter Rockwell. (Rockwell was Joseph Smith’s personal bodyguard, and Bridger was a mountain man and scout who opened up the Intermountain West.)
The Scouting takeover of the Mormon young men’s program was not without protest. A generation of Mormon parents and grandparents, in spite of authoritative Mormon Scouting boosters like Ezra Taft Benson or recent president Gordon B. Hinckley, thought of Boy Scouts as foul-mouthed ruffians and pyromaniacs unfit for church association. Two or three generations had to pass away before the opinionated Mormon pioneer stock would universally concede that Scouting, as re-defined by Mormonism, is God’s Divine plan for their children and grandchildren.
President Hinckley could have indeed bailed out on Scouting a few years back, amid screaming controversies of Gay inclusion and Christian Scouting’s rejection of Mormonism in their national encampment events. Hinckley instead even more firmly entrenched the Mormon church in the Scouting program. The personal qualities Mormons seem to love most are perfectly embodied in Boy Scout lore and culture, according to the late Gordon B. Hinckley, who felt if every boy could be a Scout it would empty all the prisons. Unlike the Birch Society, which was never compulsory, just highly promoted, becoming a Boy Scout, and in recent years, becoming an Eagle Scout, is enforced as a required rite of passage in order to insure proper LDS credentials in later dating, mating, and employment endeavors within the Mormon community. LDS colleges and universities actually offer a program in professional Boy Scouting. http://www.ldsscouting.org/index.shtml
Scouting is just the sort of “program” Mormons have evolved and gravitated to in every aspect of their religion. Mormonism in large part is a collection of glorified clerks, bankers, bureaucrats and functionaries who worship the notion that exaltation can be organized, engineered, and manufactured by structuring the perfect universal “program,” and then cramming generations of youth and converts through it to construct a body of believers of absolutely reliable character and totally common experience. Mormons even boast of their leadership as being unexceptional people, common people. In Mormonism there is a glory in not being unusually gifted. Even Mormon leaders are believed to have been chosen because God has called them not because of their genius and personal value, but because they are the most humble of the bunch and the least interested in running the show. The problem with the Mormon approach to Scouting is exactly that. It’s not a program designed to bring out the best and brightest in the best and brightest. It’s a mandatory indoctrination designed to elevate you to the highest degree of youthful glory, exactly like very other good Mormon boy, and prepare you to follow-up your young life’s goal (Eagle Scout) with the next compulsory goal, your mission. And after that a temple marriage and children. And after that you make bishop, or stake president, or even higher church calling, all for quietly doing what you are told and not making waves. This process will repeat itself mindlessly, until Jesus comes and Personally explains what it’s actually all supposed to lead up to.
Because Scouting is now the official Mormon boy’s club, if you aren’t thrilled with tying square knots or having the bigger kids at camp steal all the canoes so you have to walk twenty minutes to meals three times a day clear around the lake while they paddle over easily in a couple of minutes, then it must mean there’s something wrong with you. Everybody else loves it—including “prophets of God” who have not just sanctioned it, but required it of you. In the Mormon world, Scouting is God’s assignment, and if you drop out, you drop out of God’s program.
Scouting organizations outside of Mormonism however, have severely criticized Mormon Scouting as a “joke,” that “cheapens” the Scouting name. Having seen their complaints from the inside, yes, it’s absolutely true that Mormon Scouting features “merit badge marathons” where its youth go from room-to-room around the ward house, in a factory environment, passing merit badge requirements at stations every five or ten minutes. Then too, when a Mormon kid gets his Eagle Scout Award, they actually pin the badge on his mother.
Scouting’s Godfather, Lord Baden-Powell, apparently idled away his time while the mighty British Empire and all its men, weapons and resources were at “war” with Dutch South African farmers or the odd wild native villager, by writing children’s fables about “Red Indians,” trailblazing, tracking, woodsmanship and frontier exploring–most of which he knew nothing about except from reading dime novels. As he had begun his military career as a forward scout, in these grand retellings of his adventures and diagramming’s of his scouting skills, he inadvertently fantasized himself into building the secret boy’s club he never had as a child, because his nannies never let him play with the rougher, common boys. Which in hindsight, it appears, he may have had sexual desires for. But perhaps I’m too hard on the old chap. Scouting was a very Victorian sort of British fad and Baden-Powell was just the dashing, repressed homosexual example of the Glorious British Empire to booster it.
And of course, Baden-Powell was a Master Mason, so he had that going for him. Again, the whole Masonic brotherhood scenario is paralleled in the Boy Scout system of mastering skills and gaining knowledge. The same set of religious and philosophical beliefs espoused in Scouting are also common to the writings of the Founding Fathers, the Masons, and Mormon theology. Scouting is therefore just a perfect fit for the indoctrination of the young Mormon into LDS political, patriotic, and religious dogma.
Mormons have no active part in Masonry today, mostly because Masons don’t like the way they just move in and take over the lodge. But unlike Christians, Mormons look upon Masonic involvement in the nation as a good thing, not a demonic plot to enslave Christians. Masonry promotes healthy, God-fearing principles. Like the Scouts. In the Mormon world, patriotism, church, the Boy Scouts, holding big conferences, sitting in meetings and forming committees, it’s all a way of life. It’s all the same thing, nothing sinister, nothing all that secret, just organized. Faith must be organized—perhaps a holdover from the Methodist input to Mormonism. In that light, evangelical criticism of Glenn Beck’s detractors and even some collaborators, are absolutely correct when they claim he can’t keep his personal religion to himself. Beck can’t do that any more than they can. Not even quasi-Christian political action movements like the Boy Scouts and the late-great John Birch Society could tolerate Mormonism once Mormons actually started making significant operational decisions for these groups. Then the Mormons became a threat. Mormons just weren’t flying the right “Gospel Flag.” And still aren’t. And never will.
Robert Slayden, “Life in the Spirit,” from an undated show in September 1988:
“Lots of religious ships are not flying the Gospel flag they’re flying its cousin’s flag. If a ship isn’t flying the right religious flag we’ve got every right to take our nuclear bombs and blown’em outa the water!
A man of God is a man of war! “