LYNCHBURG, Va. — Liberty University and its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., recently invited Glenn Beck to take center stage to address thousands of students during its annual convocation ceremony, whose speech included references to Joseph Smith and Mormon theology.
The outspoken conservative talk show host, and founder of the news outlet The Blaze, compared Mormonism to Christianity during his half-hour speech and cited that the Lord gave him a message of coming back to “settle scores.”
“I am Mormon and share your faith,” Beck asserted during his spiritually-mixed charge to students, as he stood in front of a large banner bearing the university’s motto, “Training Champions for Christ.”
Beck was introduced by President Jerry Falwell, who noted that the university presented the political commentator with an honorary doctorate in 2010 as he likewise addressed the students during that time. Falwell remarked that the “Sounds of Liberty” also performed at Beck’s “Restoring Honor” event that year in Washington, which the university chancellor attended.
“I heard him yesterday on the radio,” Falwell remarked. “He probably didn’t realize this, but he was using Liberty’s verse—sort of our motto here—‘Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.'”
Beck then took the podium to applause and cheers, explaining on a lighthearted note that he ran into Falwell at Billy Graham’s birthday party earlier this year. He then fought tears as he told the audience that he believed he was given a message from God that day to share with the students.
“Are you willing to give your life?” Beck asked fervently. “What are you willing to do? What is it that means something to you?”
“Days before Joseph Smith was martyred he was taken out by the sheriff; they tried to tar and feather him several times,” he explained. “The last time they took him, they said, ‘You owe $25.’ He said, ‘No, I don’t owe a man anything.’ They said, ‘No, you stole a stove’—one of the most ridiculous charges I’ve ever heard.”
“At that time, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his pocket watch,” Beck continued, displaying the relic that he said belonged to Smith, considered a prophet of God in Mormonism. “He gave it to the sheriff and said, ‘I owe no man nothing.’ They let him go. They killed him, but on the warrant for his arrest, he wrote on the back of his warrant to his people, ‘Put down your guns. No matter what happens, put down your guns. Put down your guns and trust in the Lord.'”
He then compared Smith’s story to the challenges that Liberty students may face in the days ahead.
“You are going to be pushed and challenged every step of the way,” Beck said. “What is it that you truly believe?”
Later in his message, the Mormon talk show host told the students that “no one in the Grand Councils” sent them to earth just to make a living. Beck was referring to the Mormon belief that human souls pre-existed in heaven, and that a gathering of heavenly beings known as the Grand Councils, send certain individuals to earth to accomplish a special purpose.
“You didn’t come down for a job. You came to this university maybe thinking, ‘I have to have an education to get a job.’ You need this education from Liberty University because of your only true job, the purpose you were sent here for,” he said.
Beck’s comments were met with cheers and applause during several points in his speech, and was given a standing ovation by many in attendance upon his conclusion.
Liberty University, which is considered to be the nation’s largest Christian university and whose motto is “Training Champions for Christ” has been under fire for continuing to drift from biblical Christianity.
As previously reported, concerns were expressed last month after the university minimized objections to the utilization of a homosexual advocate to teach students choreography in its presentation of Mary Poppins. Many also expressed disagreement when Brandon Ambrosino, a Liberty student that came out as an open homosexual on campus, was allowed to enroll as a graduate student in Liberty’s seminary program.