Friday, April 23, 2010

LDS Pundit Glenn Beck Accepts Jerry Falwell Jrs' Invitation To Deliver 2010 Commencement Address At Liberty University In Virginia

Evangelical misunderstanding of and hostility towards Mormons continues to steadily erode away. And a major step towards increased fellowship was taken when Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. invited Fox News pundit Glenn Beck, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to deliver the commencement address at the school on Saturday May 15th, 2010. Beck has accepted the invitation. Joining Beck as a speaker will be Dr. Paige Patterson, the current president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; he'll be the keynote speaker at Baccalaureate Service on May 14th, according to the Liberty University website.

“Liberty University is blessed to have two national conservative leaders speak at our 2010 Commencement ceremony,” Falwell said. “Dr. Patterson is one of the patriarchs of Christian higher education, and Beck is one of the few courageous voices in the national media standing up for the principles upon which this nation was founded. Both speakers continue Liberty’s long tradition of Commencement speakers who are making a positive impact on society in all walks of life.”

Liberty University traditionally holds both a baccalaureate service and a Commencement ceremony. The baccalaureate ceremony always includes a gospel message brought by someone who is in complete theological alignment with the university. However, commencement has always featured leaders from all walks of life and all faiths who share the university’s social values and traditional family values.

It's not the first time a prominent Mormon has spoken at a traditional Christian university. In May 2007, Mitt Romney gave the commencement address at Pat Robertson's Regent University. Romney did not discuss specifics of the LDS faith, but instead expounded on general conservative themes such as the importance of child-rearing and marriage and the presence of evil in the world. We can probably expect a similar approach from Glenn Beck at Liberty University. Jerry Falwell Jr. has shown more respect for Beck than many Mormons.

Other significant reports on this development have been published by Christianity Today, the Lynchburg News & Advance, and WSET Channel 13.

Analysis: This is a sign of respect from one of the leading Evangelical leaders in Christianity. It shows that, because of Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign and the California Proposition 8 campaign, Evangelicals are slowly warming up to us. While they won't all necessarily concede we're Christian yet, at least they no longer feel like we're personal representatives of the Antichrist. This is also a positive sign for Mitt Romney; if he runs for President in 2012, opposition to him on the right will more likely be attributable to some of his zigzagging and his sponsorship of Obamacare Lite while governor of Massachusetts rather than his religion.

1 comment:

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