There are several thousand reasons one might credibly object to Westlake resident Glenn Beck delivering a university commencement address. One is that he represents the antithesis of facts and learning and reasoned debate, i.e. pretty much everything an institution of higher learning holds dear. Another is that he's a fearmonger who's built a media empire by playing on the most vile racist/xenophobic/Islamophobic/partisan impulses of his audience.
Beck's appearance late last month at ultra-Christian Liberty University in Virginia has become controversial for an entirely different reason: because he's a Mormon.
His address, Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt writes with a raised eyebrow, was "rife with Mormon theology in which he showcased a valuable Mormon relic" and expresses surprise that there was "no outcry from students, parents, or faculty."
"Some conservative evangelicals, many of whom believe Mormonism to be a non-Christian religious sect," Merritt wrote in a followup column, "will undoubtedly squirm at the insinuation... [it] might actually be a Christian."
Count radio host Janet Medford among them. "Why in the world is a Christian school hosting somebody [who] is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints saying stuff like that [Mormons are Christians]?" she wondered on her radio show.
And the Christian News Network provided a platform to Tricia Erickson, the ex-Mormon who authored and author of the anti-LDS screed Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters?
"It's wrong," she said. "It's like me opening my front door and saying to a Muslim, 'Come on in. If [my children] like what you have to say, it's up to them. They can decide; you can just preach to them.'
"If you're a parent, certainly you're not going to have someone come into your home [and be] around your children that is going to distort their judgment of Christianity, and that's going to tell them things that are blasphemous to a living God and pose them as the truth. At universities, we as adults have to protect our youth. These are going to be our future leaders."
It's all just slightly insane and allows Beck to play the martyr.
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"I don't apologize for who I am," he said on his radio show earlier this week. "I don't apologize for my faith. I don't apologize to anyone."
"There is no difference between you and the people who are trying to run other people out of the square," he continued. "See this is the reason why progressives are so frightening. This is why you lose a lot of people. This is why your churches are dwindling. You think you're standing for something when instead you're standing for hate and bigotry and I think Jesus was hanging out with prostitutes and sinners wasn't he?"
If Jesus were still around today, he'd no doubt be hanging out with Glenn Beck.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.