Fox News Channel personality Glenn Beck’s rallies in Washington, D.C., are an attack on religious liberty and our nation’s rich religious diversity, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Tonight’s event at the Kennedy Center, “Divine Destiny,” is billed by Beck as a way to “reunite” Americans, “heal your soul” and take a “look at the role faith played in the founding of America and the role it will play again in its destiny.”
Tomorrow’s rally, “Restoring Honor,” will be held near the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. It has been advertised as a chance to honor “our heroes, our heritage and our future.”
In reality, a major goal of Beck’s rallies is to undermine the Founding Fathers’ vision of a nation where government and religion are kept separate. Beck propagates a revisionist historical perspective that says America is an officially religious state. Mainline Christians, Muslims, non-believers and other Americans who fail to meet Beck’s religious test are often maligned.
“Our nation’s destiny will be disastrous, not divine, if Glenn Beck has his way,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “The message Beck and his cronies want to send is clear: if you don’t believe in a government based on his religious vision, you should expect to be treated like a second-class citizen. Beck has made it clear that he has no respect for our Constitution’s promise of religious liberty for all.”
Over the past few months, Beck has teamed up with David Barton, a Texas-based Religious Right activist who has no credentials as a historian. Yet Barton peddles books, videos and other materials that spread his misguided belief that church-state separation was never intended by the founders.
Said AU’s Lynn, “Barton has lurked in the dark corners of the Religious Right house of horrors for years. But now he is playing on a national stage, thanks to Beck. That’s a tragedy, not a comedy.”
Barton is the founder of Wallbuilders, a Texas-based organization that exists to attack mainstream history. He served as an adviser to the Texas State Board of Education when the state’s social studies curriculum was revised to downplay Thomas Jefferson and the role of church-state separation.
Since March, Barton has appeared on Beck’s Fox program at least 15 times as part an endeavor called “Beck University.” The purpose of the “university” – which exists only in cyberspace – is to teach Americans about the true “Christian” roots of the country. (Read more in the September issue of AU’s Church & State Magazine.)
Says AU’s Lynn, “I am confident that Americans will reject the Beck-Barton message of extremism and intolerance. Our nation was built on a foundation of diversity and equality, and we must not let strident voices undercut those principles.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.