Glenn Beck, Mormons, and the Religious Right

Conventional wisdom in the last election cycle held that Mitt Romney could never win the hearts of America’s conservative evangelicals—the Republican base—because he’s Mormon, and evangelicals don’t consider Mormons to be properly Christian. “I don’t believe conservative Christians will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen,” James Dobson, then chairman of Focus on the Family, told radio host Laura Ingraham in the run-up to the 2008 contest.

But just two years later, the person who has most loudly, most passionately, and, some would say, most convincingly gathered voters around a faith-and-values message is media personality Glenn Beck—who happens to be Mormon. “America today begins to turn back to God,” Beck told the throngs who gathered for his “Restoring Honor” rally in August. And though the event was not explicitly political, there’s no question that it, and his upcoming rallies and speeches, will drive conservative voters to the polls. Election watchers thought initially that midterm turnout would be “driven strictly by economic issues,” says D. Michael Lindsay, a sociologist at Rice University and author of Faith in the Halls of Power. “The infusion of faith-based rhetoric suggests there is an even deeper motivation for conservative voters than we originally thought.”

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