Glenn Beck on Sunday urged America’s clergy to speak out politically from the pulpit even if it means breaking the law and losing their jobs.
“Preachers, stand up! … The church is the key to keeping this ship … going the right way, using the stars and the heavens to navigate by,” Beck said at the second of two appearances at Skyline Church that was webcast via its website. “If you don’t stand up, we lose.”
Morever, he said: "We won’t have a nation if the pulpit doesn’t start preaching the truth.”
For his part, Beck said he lives with 13 to 15 “operative death threats” but would not be silenced.
“There’s a lot of things I fear,” he told a 4 p.m. audience of about 1,000 in Rancho San Diego, including state Sen. Joel Anderson. “My greatest fear is I eternally dishonor myself” by not speaking freely.
Displaying the same fervor and humor he once did on Fox News, the conservative commentator warned: “There’s fire coming to the streets” from liberal opponents.
So he called for a “fire in the pulpits,” backing an effort by Skyline senior pastor Jim Garlow to challenge prohibitions on political speech.
Garlow is promoting Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Oct. 7, 2012, when clergy nationwide are encouraged to thumb their nose at IRS law and advise congregations on how to vote in the November elections.
As tax-exempt nonprofits, churches can’t endorse or oppose candidates or electoral issues.
Garlow said America has 350,000 churches and indicated that Oct. 7 rebellions also would bolster court challenges to the so-called Johnson Amendment, a 1954 addition to the tax code that bars political activity by 501(c)(3) nonprofits like churches.
Congressional efforts to remove the amendment also are under way.
Afterward, Garlow told Patch that he took part in a similar event last October, but that presidential politics isn’t the only issue pastors might tackle. It can be local elections as well, he said.
Garlow in January endorsed Newt Gingrich for president in a two-minute YouTube video but hasn’t spoken from the pulpit on how his congregation should vote.
Mindful of Beck’s history, Garlow began each session by warning the “fraction of 1 percent” who might be tempted to disrupt the first guest in Skyline’s new speaker series. He reminded listeners they were on private property—and in a church.
“And just in case I’m not making myself clear, there are some off-duty officers right here,” Garlow said with a smile. “And they are called our Friendship Committee. So if someone acts up on your row, just stand up, step back and let the gentlemen extend what we call here the left foot of fellowship.”
Nobody disrupted either session, attended by a total of 3,000.
Beck spoke without notes for about 20 minutes at each appearance and then joined a panel discussion with televangelist James Robison and creationism scholar Jay Richards, who co-wrote the book Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, And Freedom Before It’s Too Late.
Outside the 2-month-old sanctuary on a hill overlooking Campo Road, the $21.99 book was going for $16. One booth worker said about 1,000 copies had been sold on site by 6:30 p.m.
Beck didn’t bring his trademark chalkboard. But his use of props—a Bible and two obscure books—was familiar to his fans, and he wore his usual Converse tennis shoes—trying at one point to yank a dangling piece from the sole.
“You are at the tip of the spear and doing remarkable things here,” he told the 4 p.m. audience. “Don’t be discouraged. … Thank you for having the courage of your convictions,” noting the church’s support of Proposition 8 against same-sex marriage, “and doing it without hate.”
He added: “The left wants us, needs us, to hate. They’re trying to divide us in any way possible …. This ridiculous war on women? Don’t they know people have moms?”
He held up what he called “one of the most evil books I’ve ever read”—called The Coming Insurrection, by an “invisible committee” of a dozen European college professors that called for anarchy and family destruction. He waved another book, whose long title begins The Inefficacy of Preaching and dating to 1771, that also called for revolution.
Both books, he suggested, were prized by the extreme left.
(The video stream of his second talk is archived here. )
He explained how he got hammered by the left once by saying: “Hey, you know what sounds bad to me? Social justice.”
The reaction was lightning swift, he said.
“It was probably the hardest I was hit until I was called a Jew-loving anti-Semite,” he said, pausing for laughter to die. “You have to be a professor at Harvard to figure that one out.”