As a follow up to my post on Glenn Beck’s drawing upon a certain strain of Mormon apocalyptic folklore in articulating his political positions (and the mainstream media’s ignoring the influence of Beck’s religion on those positions), I thought readers might be interested in the latest instance illustrating it. The following is from Beck’s radio program Tuesday afternoon.
Mormon readers (or listeners, as it may be) will probably recognize the last two sentences as a variation on a standard Sunday School theme. The scriptural allusion is to Moses 4:3 (Pearl of Great Price) in which the Lord reveals that in the pre-mortal existence, “Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man.” There’s nothing particularly apocalyptic about the verse or the idea in and of itself. But again, Beck is utilizing the verse as a social commentary on what he views as the twin political threats (socialism and fascism) facing America thanks to the Obama administration. And again, it seems that he is most likely taking his talking points from the political writings of Ezra Taft Benson and Cleon Skousen which opposed Soviet Communism (see here for a sampling of relevant quotes by Benson, noting the similarities to Beck’s own language).
This isn’t surprising considering that Beck apparently sees Obama as a sort of young, black Lenin (or, worse yet, a threat the world hasn’t seen since the days of Hitler and Nazi Germany). But it is a bit surprising considering that such rhetoric has been out of vogue among most Mormons for some time. What remains to be seen is whether conservative Mormons (of both the Republican and libertarian stripe) buy into Beck’s apocalyptic discourse, and whether such acceptance will indeed signal the rebirth of Bensonian politics within the LDS church (at least at a grassroots level). Furthermore, it will be interesting to see what response Beck’s (unattributed but unmistakable) invocation of Mormon scripture and Mormon prophetic folklore in expressing his political philosophy garners from the conservative evangelical crowd.