Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about the past week.
Beck's 'Black Robe Regiment'
At his rally last weekend on the Washington Mall, Fox News host Glenn Beck brought 240 clergy onstage. Harkening back to the Revolutionary War, Beck called the group a "Black Robe Regiment." He said the clergy "all locked arms saying the principles of America need to be taught from the pulpit."
The Black Robe Regiment included prominent evangelicals including James Dobson and Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, according to Beck.
Beck said he began organizing the Black Robe Regiment by gathering a couple dozen evangelical leaders (which is reported to have occurred June 30 in New York). Participants included Dobson, Land, and John Hagee. Beck said he told the leaders, "I'm asking you not to stand with me, but to stand with freedom and liberty, because we're all going to lose our religious freedom if we don't." He recounted the following:
And I ended and sat down, and James Robison pounded the table, and he said, "Brothers, I know all of you here." And he said, "I can testify that the things that this man says are true because I've felt them too." And he said, "Shame on us for the Lord coming to each of us and telling us, but us not doing it." And then he said something that I thought was very funny, "And so the Lord has to go to a Mormon, and an alcoholic on top of that." And he said, "I will stand, I will stand." And all of them, one right after another—one person said, "I can't. I'll lose half my congregation." And that's when—that's when Dr. Dobson said, "What kind of a hypocrite are we if we believe these things, but we don't say them?" And Dr. Dobson said, he looked me right in the eye—and Dr. Dobson is a guy who doesn't, you know, he doesn't agree on theology, and we have our theological differences—and he looked me right in the eye—just a real integrity and power—and he said, "I will start tomorrow, I will start tomorrow." And he did. And he did.
Land told MediaMatters, "At that meeting, [Beck] said this is where he had been led to go. He asked me to be a charter member."
Land also told National Public Radio that the rally was neither political nor sectarian. "We had rabbis praying. We had Catholic priests praying. We had Muslim imams praying and participating. We had Protestant Christians," said Land. "And [Beck] kept saying over and over again: This is not a political event, and politics is not the answer. The answer is spiritual renewal and rebuilding a civil society one person; one family; one church, mosque, synagogue, temple and one community at a time."
Sojourners blogger Valerie Elverton Dixon, however, called the rally "an exercise in civil religion."
"In my opinion civil religion is dangerous because it is a subtle form of idolatry. The nation is ultimate. It leads us to believe that, if we live a certain piety, God will serve us by blessing us.God will bless the nation.It does not make God our ultimate concern.It does not remind us that God does not exist to serve us, but we exist to serve God.We live within a universal rather than a national moral horizon, and we ought to shape public policy to conform to universal claims of justice," Dixon wrote.
Breakpoint's Diane Singer also questioned the rally. She was "disquieted" because Beck is a Mormon. She wrote, "If you're like me and believe [Mormons] have been deceived into following 'another Jesus,' then perhaps you share my concerns. I want REAL revival to come to America, which means it must be based on Truth, not deception."