Sunday, August 28, 2011

Glenn Beck Hosts "Restoring Courage" Event in Israel

Last week, Glenn Beck hosted a mass gathering with religious overtones in Jerusalem called "Restoring Courage." According to Beck's website, the gathering was intended to unite people from around the world in the name of Israel, demonstrating that Israel "does not stand alone". Restoring Courage actually consisted of three events, the chief of which took place on August 24th at the Southern Wall Excavations. For U.S. viewers who wanted to watch the event from half a world away, viewing parties took place across the U.S. (see here and www[dot]glennbeck[dot]com/israel/map/).

Unlike his 2010 "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington D.C., the rally received only modest coverage from the American media. Although I could not watch the Restoring Courage gathering in full, I found excerpts of the gathering online that offered a taste of the event.

Mixed messages about ecumenicalism left me puzzled. On one hand, at the 5:02 mark of an excerpt posted at Media Matters, Beck proclaimed that "This plot of earth may be tiny, but it has been large enough for three faiths, and the pilgrims and the faithful who come here. It must be as big as God's heart, and it must remain open to all." In this, Beck came across as ecumenical and welcoming of all Abrahamic faiths in Jerusalem, in sharp contrast to some of his previous statements.

Despite this ecumenical introduction, the Restoring Courage gathering featured several speakers known for their less-than-ecumenical statements. For example, the gathering featured a talk by John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel who generated controversy through his reported anti-Catholic and anti-Islam statements. Also speaking at the rally was right-wing history author David Barton, who has also made controversial statements about non-Christians, according to People for the American Way and the SPLC. Media Matters posted commentary on several controversial speakers at the event, and excerpts of their talks can be seen at www[dot]glennbeck[dot]com/2011/08/22/video-restoring-courage-the-courage-to-love/

Even Beck himself made a statement later that struck me as unecumenical. At the beginning of another excerpt, Beck rejected the idea that Israel was an "apartheid" state, despite criticism of Israel for its human rights record. At the beginning of the YouTube video below, Beck made the following statement.

"Some call Israel an apartheid state. Let us begin here. I reject that, and so the moment I leave this stage, I am flying to South Africa, which is where apartheid actually existed. And I will broadcast from Cape Town tomorrow morning, to remind the world what the evil of apartheid actually looked like." [Applause]

In the same excerpt, Beck mentioned his new nonprofit venture, Mercury One, rooted in the idea that "one man with one God" can make an impact. (See www[dot]glennbeck[dot]com/2011/07/01/glenn-beck-announces-non-profit-venture-mercury-one/). In a theatrical moment, Beck warned his followers of the supposed dangers of following his path at the 1:55 mark.

"It will not be easy for me, and it will not be easy for you. Others, I warn you, will say to you, 'Come! Come this way! Come over the horizon.' But I warn you that horizon is a cliff, and when you don't go along, you will stand out. You will be mocked, and in some cases your life may be in danger. But you must remember, square your shoulders and say lo eira! I fear not."
With the demeanor of a devout preacher, Beck delivered a pro-Israel message at Restoring Courage alongside other speakers, spiced with religious language. The purpose of the gathering, I surmised, was to reach out to pro-Israel Christians by providing a religious revival in the romantic Holy Land.

For an irreverent live-blogging of the Restoring Courage rally, visit this Haaretz link. For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

CBS News: At rally in Israel, Glenn Beck calls for courage

New York Times: At Temple Mount, Glenn Beck Draws Crowd of Hundreds

The Atlantic: Glenn Beck's Ambivalent Welcome in Israel

Jerusalem Post: Feiglin objects to Beck Jerusalem event


  1. Beck has a huge ego that drives his need for attention and his messianic view of himself. Combine his egoism with his demonstrable lack both of common sense and self-insight and we have a blundering prophet of all things silly. He would be great for a laugh but for the scary people who take him seriously.

    How he still manages to get any airtime is beyond me.

  2. That's actually a pretty tame message for Beck. Quite a surprise. Maybe he is getting smarter? I hope so. I doubt it, but I hope so. :-)

    Also a surprise is the name "Mercury One," given the association with the Roman god and all.

  3. Cognitive Dissenter -- Agreed. I think people will look back on him twenty years from now and snicker.

    Wise Fool -- Well, I wasn't able to watch the whole event, so I don't know if his other Jerusalem talks were as gentle. I was unwilling to pay money to watch the whole thing on GBTV, so I shared what I could find online.

    In an interview, Beck said that Mercury One is a reference the Mercury space-flight program. (And I'm resisting the urge to make a joke about "space cadets" with all my might!)

  4. Ha, space cadets may be accurate. The reason the Mercury program was called "Mercury" was a play off the Roman god, sending messengers from earth to space. :-)

    Just like Beck and others promote going back to the original intent for the constitution, he would have been better off researching that name a little more. I mean, it wasn't called the Mercury project out of love for a poisonous metal which is liquid at room temperature. Although, now that I mention it, maybe Mercury One is a good name for Beck's project... ;-)

  5. Wise Fool -- Aye, his use of a Roman god's name for a nonprofit that's all about "one man with one God" is definitely ironic.


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