Glenn Beck Goes Messianic at America's Divine Destiny Event Before 2,500 Screaming Fans
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About 2,500 screaming, adoring Glenn Beck fans packed the concert hall of Washington's Kennedy Center on Friday night to shower affection on their hero. Beck used the event, dubbed “America’s Divine Destiny,” to portray himself as an instrument of God prepared to lead America out of its spiritual darkness.
Beck, who seems to view himself in increasingly messianic terms, says he is helping to launch another religious “Great Awakening” that will shape American history and promised attendees that on Saturday they would be “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Beck has plenty of company among those who saw Barack Obama’s election as a sign that politics is failing America, and that a religious revival is the only real hope for its future. In fact, it’s become practically routine at Religious Right events for leaders to announce that history would view their event as the spark of a new awakening. But none of them have had an audience near the size that Beck does.
Divine Destiny was a three-hour mix of gospel music and patriotic songs from an “all-star” choir of local singers and dancers, inspirational exhortations for people and churches to do good work in their communities, and speeches by Religious Right figures about America’s need to repent for the nation’s sins and turn back to God.
Here’s a quick look at the cast:
Rep. Randy Forbes, head of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, gave the opening prayer. Forbes, who represents Virginia’s 4th congressional district, has repeatedly introduced resolutions filled with assertions about the religious nature of America’s founding. Forbes reeled off a list of supposed attacks on faith in America that he and his colleagues had withstood. Without irony, Forbes declared America “the greatest nation the world has ever known” and in the next breath asked God to forgive any pride or conceit “if we have any.”
Following Forbes was former Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzales, who brought a bit of bipartisan diversity to the stage and led the pledge of allegiance.
Alveda King, scheduled to speak at the big event on Saturday, did not actually address the Ken Cen crowd, but came onstage to give a wave after Beck told us how weary she was from the “pummeling” she’s been taking. (King has been taking some well-deserved heat for her efforts to claim her uncle Martin Luther King’s support for her anti-gay and anti-choice activism.) Alveda has dismissed her late aunt Coretta Scott King’s position that MLK would have supported marriage equality by saying, “I’ve got his DNA. She doesn’t.”
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the Christian Right’s favorite rabbi, puts the “Judeo” in Judeo-Christian for countless Religious Right political events. Lapin’s remarks could not be heard by those watching via video streaming because, we were told, his voice could not be amplified on the Sabbath. One of the show’s hosts later gave us a recap, saying Lapin had described America as a precious flower that could not be separated from its religious roots. Lapin’s three-part challenge to attendees: study the Bible, make more money and say extra prayers for America.
David Barton was Beck’s co-host. Barton is the Religious Right’s favorite pseudo historian and Beck’s new favorite person. After decades of plying his “Christian nation” history through books and evangelical churches, Barton has a huge new national audience thanks to Beck’s patronage.
Barton did what he does, which is to show off his collection of old speeches and sermons that in his telling prove America was based on Christian principles and was never meant to be a secular nation. Barton’s message was partly to the pastors in attendance, telling them that early American preachers were better at preaching on the news of the day. Beck told the pastors in attendance that the event was meant to stiffen their spines, because the church had “gone soft.”