He’s an entertainer. He’s rude. He spreads misinformation. He’s inflammatory. He’s an author and celebrity who makes over $32 million a year stirring up fear and hatred among his fellow Americans. He’s the conservative’s answer to Howard Stern, and equally as predictable to this listener. C”mon, folks, can’t we see he’s only in it for the money?!?
Granted we live in a culture where the entertainment industry is the ultimate arbiter of power, where politicians and news anchors must be “personalities” rather than statesmen and journalists, where communication is measured in victories of sarcasm rather than the sharing of truth (“what is truth?”). Sad words to write on Memorial Day weekend.
What I don’t understand is how Beck got to be the darling of the Religious Right. Just last week he was the commencement speaker at Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell and funded by Tim LaHaye of Left Behind fame.
The man is a Mormon. He is not an evangelical Christian. He’s not interested in promoting truth, religious or otherwise. What he does do is support the political platform that is so sacrosanct with the Religious Right: pro-life, limited government, family values, getting out of debt. Noble causes perhaps, but (as always) ignoring — and often ridiculing — other pressing issues such as poverty, corporate greed, and the environment. And other Christian virtues such as kindness, joy, peace, and faith. And his techniques are the same: intimidation, motivation through fear, and a belief that the ends justify the means.
Beck has no expertise in Christianity or in history… and in fact this past week displayed his ignorance of both in this audio. In this clip he claims:
- that the Council of Nicaea was called by the Roman Emperor Constantine when he wanted to conscript an army
- that the Council of Nicaea produced the Apostles Creed
- that the Council of Nicaea is where the Bible was first bound
- that the Council of Nicaea said of the work they produced, “anybody who disagrees with this is a heretic and off with their head!”
- that the Dead Sea Scrolls were produced in order to protect the Scriptures from people who were seeking to destroy the truth
- that the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden in caves so no one could find them
- that the Dead Sea Scrolls “were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicaea and Constantine”.
The man is doing Dan Brown’s work better than Brown himself.
The problem is, if people haven’t read up on these subjects, what Beck says might sound like a reasonable defense of his ideologies. Specifically, he’s saying there’s a conspiracy afoot to deprive people of the truth, and that people in the past needed to hide the truth in vessels — in pots or in Creeds — in order to preserve it, and in our day we need to do the same.
Yeah, to protect the truth from people like Beck!
Here are the facts:
- The Council of Nicaea was called by the Church, not any Emperor. The Council produced the *Nicene* Creed (hence the name) — the Apostles’ Creed is approximately 200 years older. The Bible was not bound at the Council of Nicaea; the work of determining what writings would go into the Bible was a process that took a few hundred years. And the Council of Nicaea had absolutely no power of life or death over people.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls were produced by an ancient *Jewish* community living in Qumran, Israel, a few hundred years before the birth of Christ. They, like many ascetics before and after them, spent much time reproducing Scriptures by hand. The Scriptures they copied were from the Torah — what Christians would call the Old Testament — and other prophetic writings. The scrolls they produced were carefully wrapped and stored in pots in caves not to hide them but to preserve them. Qumran had absolutely nothing to do with Constantine or the Council of Nicaea — both of which would happen approximately 500 years later!
If Beck is this wrong about things any first-year seminarian would know, how mis-informed is he about things any first-year political science major, or meteorology major, or earth sciences major, or history major (etc) would know?
What all this points to, for me, is that the Religious Right is far more interested in politics than in Christianity. That in some religious circles it’s more important to vote the right way (and on the right issues) than it is to seek the truth. That the Christian veneer is just that: a facade preserved to keep people sending in their money.
Yes indeed. Right now you can send $100 to Beck’s website for an autographed copy of a Washington Crossing the Deleware print. Did you catch that? *Christians* are supposed to send what for many people is about half a day’s wages to a *Mormon* *entertainer* so they can hang an icon of a *president* and a *flag* on their walls and feel good about their *spirituality*. Say what???
Folks. If you’ve got $100 to spare send it to the nearest overseas missionary you know. It might make the difference between life and death for someone you won’t ever meet. You won’t get a plaque to hang on your wall… but then Jesus said it’s only when our left hand doesn’t know what our right hand is giving that we will be rewarded in heaven.