But I am not going to cut Beck any additional slack. The book that gives me the best sense of where Beck is coming from is Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. No, not the parts about the largely forgotten history of the Mormon Church, and not the front-and-center story of a cruel and bizarre homicide, but the material that describes how various schemers, scammers and grifters take advantage of their fellow Mormons.1 And although I could assume that some of these people are sincere, I find it hard to offer benefit of the doubt to a guy who proclaims that he has had a vision from God to build a gold mine, and that the gold will be found when Jesus returns to usher in the Millennium. "So give me your money, don't ask for any proof that there's gold at the site because I've already told you when the gold will be found and to challenge that is to question God." What if the mark is skeptical? "Pray on it."2 Krakauer describes a law enforcement official's effort to remind the people of Utah that God is not an investment counselor. How does this relate to Beck? See the following video, most notably the content starting at 3:08:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Beck - Not So Mellow Gold|
Among the eccentric offshoots of Mormonism, Krakauer details how self-described prophets or cult-like leaders often deify the Founding Fathers and the foundational documents of the nation, even as they misunderstand, misrepresent, or take out of context the beliefs, statements, and principles of those people and documents.
A charitable interpretation of Beck would be that he learned the tricks of the trade of the scammers and decided to employ them for a cause he believes will do good. In the alternative, f course, he's a scammer. "We report, you decide."
1. I don't mean to suggest that all of the scammers are sincere Mormon, but according to law enforcement officials quoted in the book it's common for the type of scammer under discussion to use their claims of shared faith as a foundation for building trust with their victims.
2. The concept of praying on important issues and decisions is very familiar to Christians, but within Mormonism there's also belief in Moroni's promise, that if you pray with true faith and a sincere heart, God's truth will be revealed to you.