Glenn Beck’s newly created Black Robe Regiment — which he has said would be apolitical — apparently has a clear political direction, according to two of its members.
Dr. Richard Lee of the First Redeemer Church in Atlanta, Ga., and Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, both said part of the group’s mission is to return to their places of worship and boost voter involvement.
“We know the people of America are good, morale, decent people,” Lee told me Tuesday. “If they look within their own hearts, they will vote the proper way and allow themselves to stand up at the voting polls.”
Beck has repeatedly insisted that the new group and his recent rally would be apolitical.
On his radio show Monday, Beck discussed the first meeting to create the new group. He said: “I had a couple people that had helped put this together, and some of them had been involved in the Christian Coalition. And when I first called them and talked to them, I said, ‘Look, I know you were involved in the Christian Coalition, but this isn’t Christian, this has to be everybody, and it cannot ever be made about politics. If it’s about politics, it’s worthless.’ And all of them said the same thing: ‘Amen.’ “
On Monday’s edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Beck added: “If my church started to preach who to vote for, oh, the Republicans are better than the Democrats or vice versa, I would also leave my church on that.”
But Lee said a mission of the Black Robe Regiment, a group of religious leaders that Beck announced on Saturday, is to get church members to use their voting rights and become involved: “It is to encourage our congregations to become involved in the process of restoring honor around the world and at home by being involved in the exercise of maintaining good will, including voting.”
He added: “Voting is the voice of America. The public square happens in a voting booth – America is changed one vote at a time.”
Lee said he has already become involved by placing voter registration forms in his church.
Asked if he will endorse candidates or tell parishioners for whom to vote, Lee said, “We do not vote a Republican ticket or a Democratic ticket, we vote a Christian ticket. How a candidate performs in relation to our Judeo-Christian ethic dictates how I support them.”
Lee said he would endorse candidates privately. But asked if he would do so from the pulpit, he said: “I don’t need to say it. If a candidate does not adhere to the Christian faith, they will know who it is.”
Land also said he planned to boost voter involvement and guide parishioners to use their voting rights to influence government decisions on many issues.
“Energizing all of our members to register to vote, to be informed as to where the country stands on issues and leave it to them to connect the dots,” Land said. “I will do my best to make sure they know what the bible says about the sanctity of human life, marriage and the notion of man.”
Asked to be more specific on which issues he would discuss with parishioners with regard to voting, he cited abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide and out-of-wedlock births.
“I think gay marriage is an oxymoron,” Land said. “Marriage is between a man and a woman.”
He also cited his opposition to the recent national health care legislation, stating, “It is rationing of care. I read the bill, it is horrifying.”
Another participant in the group is Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.
He would not go into specifics about promoting voter involvement, but said: “In my case, it is a conviction that politics is nothing more than the practical application of our most deeply held moral values. This is simply making certain that those whose moral values are influenced by biblical thought also participate in the democratic process.”
Land and Lee were first asked to join the group during a dinner hosted by Beck on June 30 at New York’s London Hotel that included James Robison, Rev. James Dobson, Rev. John Hagee and about 15 other religious leaders.
“At that meeting, he said this is where he had been led to go,” Land said, referring to Beck’s reasons for starting the Black Robe Regiment. “He asked me to be a charter member.”
Lee said Beck asked the leaders at the dinner how they believed their churches could help “bring the country together.”
“There was no agenda put forth,” said Lee. “We talked of voting, he did not bring it up. A lot of people have been disenchanted with politics in America.”
Land did say one of the reasons for the push for voter involvement and the effort to utilize government more is because “our society sees its rights and privileges over its obligations.”
Both men said no further planning had been done for the different religious leaders to meet again, but expected additional plans to be put in place.
“We are still in the formation process,” said Lee.