Glenn Beck, Secret Atheist?

Is Glenn Beck sending out coded messages to his atheist compadres, or shall we simply ask the Heavenly Father to forgive him, for he knoweth not what he quoteth from? I ask because Glenn Beck, at the start of his show, flashes on the screen this phrase from Thomas Jefferson:

Question with boldness . . .

Now I realize that he also has a segment with this title, and it’s where a guy goes out and tries to corner public liberals, Michael Moore style, with a microphone and camera. But what is the ironic context for Thomas Jefferson’s phrase? Well, it comes from a letter that he wrote to his nephew:

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

Glenn Beck: secret agent of atheism? I suppose the lesson here is to trust no one. This Nancy Sinatra song seems to fit our potential secret atheist agent of the global-secular humanist-Illuminati-conspiracy rather nicely, don’t you think?:

Jefferson quote source: The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff (Penguin-Meridian 1982, p. 106)

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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13 Responses to Glenn Beck, Secret Atheist?

  1. Kristy gillespie says:

    i couldn’t tell if you were serious…I’ve heard him quote this on his show in its entirety many, many times. He most certainly does know from what he quotes. He is no more an atheist than Jefferson was. They both believe in God.

  2. Patti Bateman says:

    If you watch Glenn Beck regularly you know that he holds his belief in God as sacred. He often refers to the redemption he experienced as a recovering alcoholic. He reminds us almost daily of the divine guidance the founding fathers received as they wrote the constitution. When he quote the above quote he tells you that is exactly what he did to find God and receive his redemption. If you are truly curious about his faith watch his conversion story on youtube. It’s a very touching story.

  3. santitafarella says:

    Kristy and Patti:

    Glenn Beck presents himself as a follower of Jesus. Isn’t that a dead giveaway that he’s a secret atheist conning his audience and laughing all the way to the bank?

    I mean, seriously, is there any connection whatsoever between the multimillionaire Beck and Jesus born in a manger?

    Who’s zooming whom here?


  4. concerned christian says:
    Glenn Beck’s life is filled with ups and downs, so before you judge him you may want to look at the tragedies he went through, because if he went through all of that and still managed to become successful, he deserves my respect. I find it interesting that three of the leading conservative talk hosts, Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck did not finish college, but their secret of popularity is that they are seen by many as real human not fake or elitist.

  5. theSTARforum says:

    Are you serious? Is this really a question? Anyone that is a regular listener KNOWS this is hogwash. The whole point of questioning things is so that you can get to the truth. A secret athiest …. whatever. You just want to jump on the Glenn Beck hate bandwagon. I’m so tired of seeing intellegent people say, “Look, he’s saying the opposite of everything he’s really saying.” You need some counseling.

  6. santitafarella says:


    Everybody’s life is, ultimately, a tale of woe and disappointment (for we are mortal and subject to chance, and those we love are mortal and subject to chance).

    I don’t share your view that Beck is not fake. Indeed, he trucks in insincerity. His very schtick is that of the television evangelist transferred to politics: he cries on cue, sets an earnest eye on the viewer through the television camara’s lens, runs his voice up and down the emotional range, and rhetorically casts out “demons” (read Democrats) via theatrics.

    His appeal is not to the reason, but to prejudice and passions.

    Also, on strictly religious terms, it is an oxymoron to suggest that one can be a follower of Jesus AND fabulously wealthy; or a follower of Jesus AND in persistent violation of the sixth commandment (“thou shalt not bear false witness”). Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity all make their living distorting the views and characters of their political enemies—and engaging in ad hominem. These are forms of false witness. Given their technological reach (unprecedented until the 21st century) it’s hard to think of another three people who have more egregiously, pervasively, and persistently flaunted that sixth commandment. And yet they are beloved by people who call themselves religious believers.

    It is an ugly spiel that the three of them engage in, and if Barack Obama ends up assassinated before the end of his presidency it will be, in large measure, the product of the flames of defamation and demonization fanned daily by these men to the emotionally unstable listeners in their audience. One can oppose ideas without destroying people personally or distorting their views and character. But if you choose to use such methods as part of your rhetorical arsenal, at least have the decency not to call yourself a follower of Jesus.


    • concerned christian says:

      I cannot agree with some points that you made. First I do not know if Beck is fake or not. All I can say is that many conservatives believe in him while most liberals do not trust him. So this is a subjective call. As for me, I would not consider someone to be fake unless he proves it to me through his actions. A good example is John Edwards, liberals trusted him to the point that they elected him a senator and were willing to elect him to higher offices, conservatives did not trust him, and I personally did not trust him because his manipulation of the medical malpractice racket. Of course it turns out that he was really fake at the end. As or Beck I am not sure if he is acting or just being himself, but so far I am holding my judgment. Second, being Christian does not mean that you have to be poor, but it means that you put your money to a good use. So again, I do not know how much any of these people give as charity, so I cannot judge how close they are to the Christian ideal. But the issue I am really upset about, is your attempt to link whatever Beck or any other conservative commentator is saying to possible assassination attempt on Obama. This is a very bad thing to say, and I pray to God that it will never happen. In this regard I would like to mention that after Kennedy the only assassination attempts were against Ford and Reagan, and both were conducted by lunatics. So hopefully the secret service is doing its job and do not allow a repetition of the Salahi’s fiasco.

    • santitafarella says:


      I’m with you on Edwards. I’ve long thought he was completely dripping in insincerity and the sheen of Dorian Gray narcissism.

      I also share your concern for Obama. But I feel strongly that Beck is fueling hatred toward him, and with all that implies. It is incomprehensible to me that our first African American president would be treated by any American with such cruelty, innuendo, and revulsion. It sickens and saddens me. Here’s a quote from somebody who shares my concern about Beck’s schtick:


      • concerned christian says:

        I checked the link you posted; unfortunately it confirms my low opinion of media matters. Even if you agree with what they say, they are really a biased outfit. All you need is to read some of the comments made by their readers. Check the comments they posted on the article
        they are really gross. So you may want to be careful about using this site as reference, because your blog is definitely of much higher caliber that those political Hacks.

      • santitafarella says:


        Media Matters is a very good liberal site on the web. And of course it has a bias, and it is real. But when somebody makes a claim, the question to ask is not “Are they biased” but “What good reasons and evidence are offered in support of the claim?” I think, in the case of Beck, the evidence that he inflames base populist passions is there, and the good reasons for thinking that this is dangerous are based on what we know about social psychology.

        Here, for example, is Beck inflaming white racist paranoia and then (implausibly) denying the plain meaning of his words. He’s having his racist inuendo and eating it too:

        As to thread posters at Media Matters, Jesus himself had followers that did not well reflect his vision. You can choose your enemies, but—alas!—not your allies. I don’t think it is fair to entangle thread posters with the author of a post. Most web sites are committed to free speech and don’t censor too quickly thread posters.


  7. santitafarella says:


    Glenn Beck trucks in paranoia and Birchite conspiracy theories. By asking (in a humorous fashion) if Glenn Beck is an atheist for alluding to a Thomas Jefferson quote that calls on people to doubt the existence of God, I was illustrating how easy it is to play Beck’s game (defaming someone with innuendo). Can you imagine how Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity would run with such a partial quote used by Barack Obama? We’d never hear the end of the meme: “Was Barack Obama, by using the phrase ‘Question with boldness’—but not completing the Jefferson quote—signalling his commitment to atheism and sending a signal to his atheist constituency?”

    You know that is the kind of bullshit that we’d be getting from them. It’s a great quote. I wish more people knew that Thomas Jefferson was a skeptic of religion. But I also know that it would be totally demagogued by Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity should Barack Obama or a prominant Democrat ever make use of it.


  8. Nikki says:

    What is so horrible about people disliking Obama? Every other president in has been bashed–why is it such a bad thing when Obama endures the exact same thing that every other political figure who has ever existed in the history of mankind has? And the majority of the nation is for Obama–if anything, it’s those who dislike him who have to endure the abuse–so I really don’t see what you’re complaining about here. And it seems to me that you have quite the double-standard, as you evidently didn’t have any issues with people making fun of Bush’s being a Texan, but making fun of Obama is just sacrilege.

    Look, I don’t like crude jokes either, but suggesting that Obama somehow has to endure more than his share of them is moronic beyond belief.

    And saying that Beck is fueling hatred for him is ridiculous. Have you even watched the guy’s show, or are you just going by the five-second soundbites the news feeds you? Beck has never said that Obama is evil. He has even said that Obama is probably a nice guy and intends the best for our country. Beck just *disagrees* with Obama’s way of leading the country. To suggest that merely disagreeing with someone is tantamount to stirring up hate for them and encouraging potential murder of them is so mind-bogglingly stupid that I don’t even have the words to describe it.

    And how is Beck making paranoid, ridiculous claims? I watch the show fairly often and he has always explained the logic behind what he believes. It would be nice for you to be explain what is so insane about what he says instead of writing his theories off as paranoid without any explanation whatsoever.

    I also find your claims that Beck’s wealth is incompatible with Christianity (he’s actually Mormon, by the way, if you want to split hairs) flawed. concerned christian summed it up better than I could=-being a Christian just means that you use your money for good and that you aren’t selfish with it, not that you aren’t allowed to make loads of money, period.

  9. Nesnoroth says:

    Dude, i cant believe you dont get it. This quote is pro-god…

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