When Fox News host Glenn Beck held his Aug. 28 Restoring Honor rally on the National Mall, many observers noted that it seemed more religious than political, comparing it to a "revival" and saying Beck "sounded like Billy Graham." But a new poll finds that the vast majority of Americans aren't quite ready to walk into the church of Glenn Beck quite yet.
Fewer than one in five Americans (17 percent) say Beck is "the right person to lead a religious movement" according to the PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll, conducted Sept. 9-12. Even his biggest supporters are skeptical. "Among white evangelical Protestants, the religious group registering the highest favorability for Beck, only about 1-in-4 (26 percent) say Beck is the right person to lead a religious movement," notes the Public Religion Research Institute. "Among Republicans, the overall group registering the highest favorability for Beck, only 29 percent say he is the right person to lead a religious movement."
Beck's appeal may be hampered by his own Mormon faith, even though only 17 percent of Americans know his religious affiliation. While people who "know Beck is Mormon and believe Mormons have similar religious beliefs to their own" support him leading a spiritual movement and have a favorable view of him, people "who know Beck is Mormon but believe Mormons have different religious beliefs from their own" are overwhelmingly against the idea that he is the right person. Beck is hampered by the fact that 64 percent of Americans "perceive Mormon religious beliefs to be different from their own."
As ThinkProgress's Faiz Shakir has noted, although Beck has been preaching that President Obama's worldview is "a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it," many conservative evangelicals have been reluctant to embrace Beck's version of the gospel. Bill Keller, the leader of the world's largest interactive Christian website, has said that Beck isn't really a true Christian. "The fact is, the beliefs of the satanic Mormon cult are totally inconsistent with Biblical Christianity," Keller stated. "It's politically convenient for Beck to be attacking Obama's religion, while rarely ever mentioning his own." (During the 2008 campaign, Keller also said that a vote for Mitt Romney, another practicing Mormon, was a "vote for Satan.") Some evangelical leaders such as Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. have embraced Beck and created controversy within their own communities for doing so.