This morning at 6 a.m., I received an urgent call from a Presbyterian friend in Atlanta, Georgia.
She wanted me to know that Glenn Beck threatened progressive evangelical Christian pastor Jim Wallis during his television and radio broadcasts, saying:
"The hammer is coming, because little do you know, for eight weeks, we've been compiling information on you, your cute little organization, and all the other cute little people that are with you. And when the hammer comes, it's going to be hammering hard and all through the night, over and over."
"He's gone too far," my Presbyterian friend said. "The only thing that's going to come of this is that Christians in the South will dislike Mormonism even more."
Glenn Beck is a Mormon. So am I. During the nineteenth century, my Mormon ancestors crossed the plains to live their faith without fear of attack from the mobs that had hounded them out of Missouri and Illinois.
Watching Glenn Beck threaten to "bring the hammer down" on another person of faith makes my stomach turn.
I could cite a host of scriptures from the Bible and the Book of Mormon about how Beck's attack on Jim Wallis is not in keeping with faith-based values.
Suffice it to say, Glenn Beck does not speak for the Mormons I know.
The Mormons I know are modest people with a deep commitment to doing what they understand to be good in the world. Whatever the mainline Protestant world thinks of our brand of Christianity, Mormons consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus Christ, bound by God's commandments to love and serve others.
It's true that there is a strand of anti-Communist thought in Mormon tradition, and Beck has certainly exploited it. But most Mormons I know don't think or talk like Glenn Beck. Forty-nine percent of Mormons polled by the Pew Foundation recently said the government should do more for the needy; forty-two percent disagreed.
The Mormons I know may not use the exact words "social justice" (the term has Catholic origins), but humanitarian service and social welfare are fundamental to Mormon values and lifeways.
The Mormons I know skip meals the first Sunday of every month and donate the value of those meals -- or a significant multiple of that amount -- to a Church-designated fund for the needy. They volunteer at Church-owned factories canning soup and peaches to feed the hungry.
The Mormons I know donate money to Church-sponsored projects to bring clean water to rural villages around the globe, or skills training and technical education to deserving individuals in the Third World.
Most Mormons I know have quite a bit in common with Reverend Jim Wallis, who has dedicated a life and a career to the service of others.
By contrast, Glenn Beck has devoted his life and career to expanding the media footprint of Glenn Beck.
He's done whatever it's taken: from cavorting with chimpanzees as a "morning zoo" shock jock to threatening to "bring the hammer down" on people of good will like Jim Wallis.
Who knows what kind of ugliness Glenn Beck will trot out when he "brings the hammer down" on Jim Wallis next week. As a Mormon woman, I agree with my Presbyterian friend in Atlanta: Beck has gone too far.
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