By Kathryn Joyce, Religion Dispatches
Posted on September 27, 2010, Printed on September 28, 2010
Glenn Beck’s efforts to transform himself from Fox News demagogue into a religious leader for Tea Party America has a lot of commentators discussing the feasibility of a Mormon convert leading a wary evangelical and Catholic right in a faith-driven cause. While there are significant roadblocks hindering Beck’s quest for leadership in the Christian Right, he wouldn’t be the first Mormon to advocate a right-wing alliance that stretches across faiths. Beck follows hundreds of Mormon “pro-family” activists who have united with conservative Catholics and evangelicals to form a common front in the culture wars.
Since 1997, when Beck was just a baby Mormon, a coalition of mostly US-based religious right groups, the World Congress of Families, has attempted to rally religious conservatives at international “pro-family” conferences to transcend theological differences to unite against common enemies: feminism, homosexuality, liberal attitudes towards sexuality and reproductive rights, and the separation of church and state.
The WCF followed the rise of a global conservative movement in response to international conferences in the 1990s, particularly concerning reproductive or women’s rights, which they feared could affect US law back home. At the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development, Pope John Paul II (an early bridge-builder who’d allied himself with Billy Graham and Campus Crusade for Christ in the 1970s) called for interfaith opposition to the conference’s draft program of action due to its support for abortion rights and what the Pope called a “Culture of Death.”