Glenn Beck presented his “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial as a religious gathering, rather than political protest. Actually it was both, and a harbinger of potential spiritual bloodshed here in the United States.
Beck’s rhetoric at the rally drew heavily on the Revolutionary War, a historic bellwether for Beck and his angry Tea Party camp. At one point, he invoked the Black Robe Regiment, a coalition of anti-colonial preachers who used their respective pulpits to help spark the revolution. They’re the perfect heroes for Beck’s Biblically minded, politically motivated mission.
“[During the war] there was what was called the Black Robe Regiment. England hated the preachers,” proclaimed Beck at the rally. “Why? Because it was first the preachers who said all men are created equal.” He continued, “Our churches have fallen asleep. For 240 years, they have been absent from the American landscape. [But] the Black Robe Regiment is back again today.”
Beck then brought out 240 “of thousands” of BRR pastors, preachers and religious leaders who have pledged their souls to the fight against the ever-present “tyranny,” a not-so-subtle synonym for the Obama-led government. In fact, there’s absolutely no way on earth, heaven or hell the new BRR can claim to be apolitical.
“We are calling on all church leaders to join with us in building a united community of constitutionally minded and Christ based patriots willing to push back against an overreaching federal government,” their website insists.
“It is time now to educate ourselves and push back against the erosion of our freedoms and liberties and restore the constitutional authority back to all aspects of our governance,” the site continues. “It will take the leaders of our churches to shepherd their flocks as did their predecessors during our first fight for liberty.” The wall between church and state starts to erode, and Beck’s endorsement only bolsters the BRR’s goal of breaking that divide once and for all, even if it means bearing arms.
The original Black Robe Regiment, named after their fashion sense, were instrumental in sparking and maintaining the American revolution. Even the U.S. government admits their colonial-era power. Abraham Keteltas, an influential colonial pastor, once declared, “In short, [the war] is the cause of heaven against hell—of the kind Parent of the Universe against the prince of darkness, and the destroyer of the human race.” George Washington’s army pastor, John Peter Muhlenberg, regularly preached against the British ministry, and eventually became a full-time soldier and then a Senator.
With the Revolution won, the small, rag-tag Black Robe Regiment faded into history. Recent years have seen a modest BRR revival, led in most part by the former Constitutional Party presidential candidate, Pastor Chuck Baldwin.
A virulent xenophobe who once claimed “Only communism rivals Islam in sheer numbers of people persecuted and killed” and believes the U.S. government helped orchestrate the 9/11 attacks, Baldwin last year organized a BRR rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He wasn’t alone: fringe pastor and radio host Pastor Bruce DeLay and his supporters were also in attendance. Both men insist that religious figures must get on the political playing field.
“American preachers and pastors must return to the passionate preaching of Biblical truth on liberty and freedom once again,” DeLay claimed. “Now is the time for another Great Awakening in America.” During that rally, participants discussed topics such as “Should a Christian carry a gun?” and “Should Christians arm themselves in church?” Sound fantastical? It’s not.
While Arkansas and Georgia have blocked a “guns in church” law, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal enthusiastically signed on into law earlier this year, and Kentucky pastor Ken Pagano has been urging his congregation to bring their weapons into the House of God. There’s also a “guns in church” lawsuit brewing in Upson County, Georgia.
There has always existed a strong bond between gun advocates and the religious right, but lately the connection has only grown stronger, and the opportunistic Beck’s using that to his full advantage.
Beck began hinting at the BRR back in July, when he hosted a “State of Religion” special on Fox News. Though ostensibly an open forum of religious leaders, it was a essentially a conference of exceedingly right-wing Christian leaders, like reliable social conservatives Ralph Reed and John Hagree.
One of the men, Pastor Tom Mullins of the Christ Fellowship in Florida, used the platform to celebrate the new BRR. “In the Revolutionary War days, we had the Black Robe Regiment, ministers standing up from the pulpit,” he explained. “And the cries we heard in the streets of America were first heard in pulpits of America. And the people were educated from the biblical principles of what life and liberty is all about.” After some faux examination and critical thinking Beck nodded, “[The BRR] is about principles.” Fast-forward to this weekend, and Beck’s launching the BRR into the mainstream.
Like him or not, but Glenn Beck’s a powerful political figure whose 9/12 Project and this rally itself prove he has enormous control over his fans. His television show has become something of a sermon for a political class.
While Beck would like viewers and voters to believe he’s motivated solely by a religious love for this country, the ideas that he’s espousing, specifically the politically obsessed Black Robe Regiment, are more concerned with the earthly State than Heaven above.
They’re a coalition of gun-happy pastors who see themselves as crusaders against the omnipresent tyranny, and with Beck’s backing, the BRR will only gain traction, and the ring of “Freedom” could take on a stridently religious tone. According to Beck and his allies, those who support the Black Robe Regiment are the true patriots. Those who oppose them are cohorts of a tyrannical government, not to mention hell bound.