Beck’s ‘Black Robe Regiment’

Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck has clearly climbed aboard the religious right’s campaign to organize fundamentalist clergy in support of its political agenda. After talking to Texan and pseudo-historian David Barton, Beck announced at his recent Restoring Honor rally in Washington the formation of the so-called “Black Robe Regiment.” The name, Barton told him, harkens back to a group of evangelical ministers who supported the American Revolution.

Organizing fundamentalist clergy is not a new political strategy for the religious right. In 2005, for example, the Texas Restoration Project launched an effort to turn pulpits into campaign props for Gov. Rick Perry and like-minded politicians. You can read more about how the Texas Freedom Network helped expose the purpose and secretive funding behind the Texas Restoration Project here.

Barton was one of the organizers of the Restoration Project. Indeed, one of Barton’s responsibilities as a Republican Party functionary (as Texas GOP chair until a few years ago and working for the Republican National Committee in 2004) has been to recruit conservative clergy into the GOP and turn them into political activists in their own congregations. So it’s not surprising that he is helping Beck build a national clergy group to promote a far-right agenda now.

As MediaMatters reports, on his August 30 radio program Beck said he recently told a meeting of evangelical leaders that his new organization “has nothing to do with politics.” Yet at the same meeting, he said, he warned participants: “We’re about to lose our country, and we need to teach the principles of liberty and freedom.” Good grief.

Among those present at the meeting were conservative evangelical leaders active in the Christian Coalition, which was very successful in organizing and mobilizing religious fundamentalists to vote for Republicans in the 1980s early 1990s. Apparently, a number of participants were concerned by Beck’s Mormonism. But Beck suggests their hesitancy faded when Focus on the Family founder James Dobson spoke out in support of his effort. (Barton has also been defending Beck to skeptical conservative Christian evangelicals.)

Beck’s claim that the Black Robe Regiment project “has nothing to do with politics” is one of the most ludicrous yet by the Beck-Barton team. We’ve heard it all before. The Christian Coalition made similar disingenuous claims as a thinly veiled ally of the Republican Party — then the courts cracked down on Coalition voter guides that were clearly slanted toward GOP candidates.

Just as distasteful is how Beck continues to use faith as a weapon and plays the “fear card” to push his agenda. MediaMatters reports that on his radio program, Beck insisted that listeners send money to support his clergy group: “You must tithe because these people (the Black Robe Regiment) are going to be in trouble. They are going to come under attack.” He went on to describe opponents of his group as the “adversary,” a word evangelicals often use to refer to Satan. Much of this is Barton’s stock in trade: use clergy to push a political agenda and then employ hysteria to demonize opponents. Beck and Barton make quite a team, don’t they?

The folks at People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have more about Beck’s Black Robe Regiment.

21 thoughts on “Beck’s ‘Black Robe Regiment’

  1. Again, we’re back to education.
    These folks are going to require a sustained effort for years from the rational adults in this country in opposition. That means that we can’t afford another generation to be misled by their hooey. That means we need to maintain vigilance over the education system for a long time to come.
    Which, of course, is where Texas Freedom Network comes in.
    Thanks for all you do.

    ps Why is wordpress subscription so cumbersome. Everytime I get one of these I have to subscribe. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. David,
      We’re not sure why the subscription process is like that. Under our settings, we don’t even require readers to be registered to post a comment. Our only requirement is that administrators moderate and approve comments (and comments are rarely not approved, although sometimes it takes us a little time to get to them). But thanks for the heads-up. We’ll check into the problem and see if there’s a way to make things easier for folks.

  2. Beck is so whacko, and I don’t just mean his underware. We already have a “Black Robe Regiment” in the government. They are called the judiciary and they have been somewhat effective in keeping Beck’s “Black Robe Regiment” out of government.

  3. I’m with David in wondering why I have to re-subscribe to Word Press each and every time I comment. It’s only a minor inconvenience compared to the question about how to get hate and fear mongers off the air. I have a graphic of the GOP’s elephant that spells out their main way of getting votes: FEAR.

    Any church that uses the pulpit for political purposes should INSTANTLY lose their tax-exempt status, period.

    FINALLY President Obama has grown some guts (or gonads). Today he called out Bohner, who Rachel Maddow once called Boner until he objected. He finally pointed out that the GOP was responsible for stalling legislation, even legislation they would normally vote for simply to thwart the Obama administration.

    A TV commercial attempting to show a Democrat in a bad light included that he voted for the Wall Street bailout! THAT WAS UNDER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND BOHNER DAMNED NEAR CRIED WHEN HE URGED HIS PEOPLE TO VOTE FOR THE BAILOUT. Now they’re using a Democratic vote for a GOP plan against him????? The nuts are running the asylum.

    One jerk wants the STATES to be in charge of civil rights! My God! The States forced the feds to do what they did regarding civil rights because as we all know the Jim Crow laws were…STATE LAWS!

    Another, I think it’s Ron Paul’s kid, wants to destroy all “entitlements.” Included, of course, Social Security which is NOT by any means an “entitlement” plan…we pay for it via FICA. I never expected to need to use the disability part, but a massive stroke forced me into taking MY MONEY as part of my disability insurance. Social Security is your money, it is my money. To hell with anyone who wishes to touch it.

    Sharon Engle, an apparently mentally ill Republican (most of them are?) wants Conservatives to use their GUNS to kill politicians with whom they disagree. Her main target is Harry Reid. She thinks that the second amendment permits that. If we don’t get our way, we’ll resort to MURDER?

    And we have people like Beck and the half-term governor of Alaska for thinking that the current government is tyrannical. According to my dictionaries a tyrannical government is one that is unjustly cruel, harsh, or severe; arbitrary or oppressive; despotic: a tyrannical ruler.

    How in name of sanity does that in any way, shape, manner or whatever does that apply to the Democratic administration? President Obama is trying to bring the middle class back, it is the GOP who has tried to say NO, NO, HELL NO to each and everything that would help the average citizen. They get closer to being a tyrannical bunch than anything short of the Communist Party.

    A threat to murder someone is a felony…why isn’t Engle being arrested and tossed into the poky awaiting trial and a life sentence.

    I’ve volunteered to try to get some excitement back in the Democratic voter in any way I can. If we want a Progressive Congress, we’d ALL better get off our collective butts and do something.

  4. David,

    Yes, the TFN routine is to resubscribe for nearly every comment

    If I am correct, Barton and Beck have no collegiate degrees in the field of history or religion, do not comprehend the legal difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and their understanding of the Constitution definitely should be challenged. For example, neither Barton nor Beck comprehends the specific wording, in Art. 6, and the First Amendment, is “religious” and “religion,” not just “church,” which is definitely a distortion of what the Constitution says:

  5. Beverly, I think there’s the beginning of a shift in voter enthusiasm. However, turnout will make a big difference. Anyone who has an opportunity to encourage young voters to get out and vote should make the most of that opportunity. I think the Beck rally probably stimulated minority attention to what’s going on.

  6. Whatever this subscription thing is that you are experiencing with Word Press is not happening at all on my computer. Things are just as they have always been. Therefore, it sounds to me as if this really is some sort of abnormal glitch that needs to be fixed.

    1. Request: Can folks who have to resubscribe each time they comment clarify something for us? Do you mean re-register as a WordPress account user?

  7. If I post, I get a subscription confirmation alert immediately after. I haven’t “signed up on that page for a “wordpress account”
    I guess I can do that and see if I quit getting “confirmation” emails each time. Just hadn’t gotten around to it.

    1. David,
      That’s odd. We don’t require someone who comments to have a registered WordPress account. We’ll keep checking.

  8. Instead of “Jersey Shore” or “Landfill operator/Name that sh*t” or one of the other classy “reality” shows, maybe they could come up with a good, educational game show on the constitution and constitutional history. Maybe have it fit the GE College Bowl format and give college students a chance to win school money.
    If they could tie in to education systems nationwide it could really increase young folks civics knowledge and participation.

    This is a test. I changed something, we’ll see if it makes a difference.

  9. Gene Garman wrote: “Yes, the TFN routine is to resubscribe for nearly every comment.”

    Sorry Gene, but you’re wrong again. I don’t have to resubscribe to post a comment here; in fact, I didn’t even have to register with WordPress to post a comment here. (And my pc is FULL of glitches. For one example, it won’t copy and paste URL’s.)

  10. Does anyone think it odd that Christians with a “Christian” agenda would choose black robes? Me thinks their Freudian slip is showing.

  11. Some of the threads have “Notify me of site updates”, some have “Send me…” and some have ” Subscribe…”
    I’ve been checking those. Maybe I didn’t need to.
    Maybe all I needed was the “notify me of follow-up…etc.”
    Sorry about your circumstance, Cytocop. Obstinate computers are the worst thing ever in history.
    Anyway, reckon Terry Jones is a charter member of the Black Robe Regiment? Or maybe he’s trying to be accepted into the club. Or maybe he’s being hazed.

  12. David, thanks.

    Charles, yes it’s a good question. “Black Robe Regiment” does conjure up images of the Inquisition. Not a pleasant vision for us non-Christians. Or non-Catholics either, for that matter! But that might be the goal of Beck & Co. and is exactly the image they WANT to install in people’s minds. For them, the Inquisition might be Christianity’s Zenith. They might want to bring back them good ole days.

    Or is a Black Robe Regiment like the “Trench Coat Mafia” from Columbine High School?

  13. The BRR is definitely another example of the fusion of the gunwhack and the religious whack male insecurity crowd. These guys see the real soldiers overseas, and they are envious of their “masculine purpose” and they want to practice their “us vs them” religion and go out and play army and suggest violence and threaten those who don’t agree with them as a set piece.
    There is so much adolescent psychology playing out with these folks it makes me embarrassed to be an American.
    We need a new push to provide an adult, civilized, rational definition of masculinity that doesn’t have all this neurosis (pathology, whatever you want to call it) at its core.

  14. And another thing…

    This is at a time when our young boys and young men are desperately needing real help getting through the mine field of growing up in this weird world today. Such a waste.

  15. Wish there were a national site to combat the imposition by the socially conservative “Christian Right”! Some of us Christians still want strict separation of church and state—and the adherents of the Religious Right, Dominion Theology, Christian Reconstruction, theonomy, amd Rousas John Rushdoony want the opposite!
    They need to learn that mixing religion and politics destroys both as credible and effective entities! Left or Right politically, the linkup spells wrong decisions and ruination in either case!