Glenn Beck: Wrong and Wrong about Catholics

Glenn Beck:  Wrong and Wrong about Catholics

BeckGlenn Beck was a Catholic who became a Mormon.  Worse, he has a national podium from which he likes to pontificate about the Catholic Church and church history – two things he knows little to nothing about.  George Washington was the first black president!  2+2=5.  A triangle has 4 sides.  This kind of absurdity is what it’s like listening to Glenn Beck attempts to teach the “truth” about the Catholic Church.

So, raise your glasses.  Here’s a toast … to setting the record straight!

The segment below I’m commenting on was said by Beck a while back, but it’s his largest blunder and represents common myths that many people believe regarding the Church.

Begin transcript:

Glenn Beck: “Stu, do you know what the Dead Sea Scrolls are?… Now, c’mon, most people don’t.
Stu: Well, I heard of them, I don’t really know …
Beck: So here’s what happened. When Constantine decided that he was going to cobble together an army, he did so at the Council of Nicaea, right, Pat? The Council of Nicaea brought all of the religious figures together, all the Christians and then they said, “Ok, let’s put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s you know, you guys do it.”  So they brought all their religious Scriptures together, that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else.  And then they said, Anybody that disagrees with this is a heretic and off with their head!  Well, that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. The Dead Sea Scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time that they said, ‘They are destroying all of this truth.’ Whether it’s truth or not is up to the individual, but at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved and so they rolled up the scrolls and put them in clay pots and they put them in the back of caves where no one could find them.  They were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicaea and Constantine. That’s what those things are.”

Dear reader: would you believe it if I told you that the entire quote above was completely wrong, and that he didn’t even get one fact correct?  It’s sad but true.  Mr. Beck would be more than embarrassed if he actually did some research and discovered what the truth really was.  But, since he failed to do that research, it’s up to me to clean up his mess.

First Mistake: Constantine got an army together at the Council of Nicaea. 

Actually, Constantine had not only successfully defended his small corner of the empire from the invasion of a much larger, more well trained army, but he also emerged as the sole emperor and brought peace to the empire.  As emperor, he legalized Christianity.  He freed Catholics from their long time persecution, torture, and slavery, allowing them to worship in peace.  Consequently, there was no “cobbling together of an army” at Nicaea.  One wonders what the heck Beck’s even talking about.

Second Mistake: Constantine wanted to put together the Apostles Creed. 

First of all, the Council of Nicaea put together the Nicaean Creed, not the Apostles Creed.  Look at the name of the Council Mr. Beck.  The Apostle’s creeds dates to hundreds of years earlier, a very elementary fact. Secondly, Constantine had nothing to do with the creed.  In fact, Constantine had no say on any spiritual matters at all.  He was the temporal leader.

The bishops in union with the pope created the Nicaean Creed to preserve the divinity of Jesus from those who were seeking to destroy it.  Thirdly, Beck asserts that the Scriptures were brought forth at this point to make the Bible and to put together a creed.  One wonders what the Scriptures being brought forth (which didn’t happen anyway) had anything to do with making a creed.  The answer is nothing.  See third mistake.

Third Mistake:  At Nicaea, the Church brought all their religious Scriptures together, and that’s when the Bible was first bound.

Not even close!  I think Mr. Beck has been sipping on too much of the “Da Vinci Code” rather than reading actual history.  The reality is that the Council of Nicaea had nothing to do with choosing the books of the Bible.  The Canon of Scripture (books put into the Bible) was the subject of the next Council, the Council of Carthage, about 75 years later.  “You mixed up the two different councils, Mr. Beck!”

It was the Council of Carthage that officially chose and canonized the Bible!  The Council of Nicaea dealt with the Divinity of Christ and had nothing to do with Scriptures.  Anyone who disagrees with this can read the Council documents for themselves.  (For more information on this subject, see my other blog on how the Bible came about (Part I & II).

Fourth Mistake:  Any heretic who dared disagree with the Council’s decision on the Bible had their heads cut off.

Well, first, we already established that Beck mixed up two different councils. So, I guess it won’t be surprising that his other claims don’t follow.  That aside, this is just sheer silliness.  “It’s silliness Glenn!”  Search encyclopedias and history books galore (“No, the ‘Da Vinci Code’ doesn’t count Glenn”), and you will find nothing of the sort.

This is nothing more than a shameful conspiracy theory devoid of facts. In reality, history shows the opposite.  After the creed was finished and the divinity of Christ upheld, the Arian heresy grew stronger and more violent.  The Arians only intensified their attacks on the Church, persecuting and killing Catholic priests and bishops, exiling them, and trying to destroy anyone who got in their way.  St. Athanasius, a leading Catholic bishop opposing the Arians, fleed into exile five different times to avoid being killed.  Thus, it was the Catholic Christians who were attacked and persecuted for a while after the Council, not the other way around.  Notice Beck doesn’t ever give names, dates, or anything else to substantiate his claims.

Fifth Mistake: The Dead Sea Scrolls were the books that the Catholic Church cast out.  Others thought they were important.  So, they saved these manuscripts from the Church who wanted to destroy them.

Sigh.  What educated person could not help but bang their head when reading statements like this.  For anyone who has studied Church history (for real), this is just another error easy to spot.

The real truth?  The Dead Sea Scrolls were not the books the Church wanted to destroy.  In fact, most of them pre-date the church.  They were actually manuscripts from a Jewish sect called the Essenes.  Most of these documents were a mixture of Old Testament manuscripts and different Jewish writings that were never even considered for the Bible.  Needless to say, these manuscripts were not thrown out by the Church as Beck asserts.  He is confused yet again, and is probably thinking of the Gnostic Gospels instead which were rejected by the Church.  There were many books that didn’t make the Bible, like Clement, Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, and others that the Church still continued to esteem and use.  So, it is a conspiracy theory to believe that the Pope and bishops sought to destroy everything that didn’t make it into the Bible. The historical record disagrees.

Glenn Beck CatholicThe bottom line is this:  I like some of what Beck has to say and I have nothing against him as a person.  In fact I had the great pleasure of meeting him once at a book signing.  While Beck has supported the Catholic Church from time to time, He has also given a lot of misinformation, as well.  Regrettably, he has a national podium to spew these old wives tales from. However, I set the record straight here for the benefit of the reader, for the purpose of truth, and for Mr. Beck’s own sake.

In conclusion, I have spoken to Mormons for years at my house, and I know that Mormonism is a religion that many people have false ideas about.  Mormons don’t like being misrepresented, and I would like to tell Mr. Beck that Catholics don’t either.  He should consider this next time he decides to present some random version of history.

Stay tuned.  My next post will be on Mormonism, everything you need to know!  I stick up for Mormonism when it is misrepresented, and I would hope that Beck has the decency to to do the same regarding Catholics.  Mr. Beck, sir, if you would like to bounce your ideas and thoughts regarding the Catholic Church off of me before you air them, I am here.

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About Bryan Mercier

Bryan Mercier is a thirty-eight year old speaker and retreat leader. He has spoken to adults and teens for the last fifteen years on a wide variety of topics; ranging from catechetics and faith formation, to morality, spirituality, and apologetics. He has spoken at youth and adult retreats, workshops, seminars, Catholic schools, parish missions, local, regional and national conferences. He has spoken in front of crowds ranging from thirty to three-thousand and has been aired on both TV and radio in different states. Bryan also runs the R.O.C.K. (Revival Of Catholic Kids) Ministry Team that puts on all-day retreats for teens. He is going for his Masters in theology and working on writing numerous books and tracts.
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3 Responses to Glenn Beck: Wrong and Wrong about Catholics

  1. Mike says:

    Constantine enabled Christians to practice openly. He, himself, did not even become Baptized until on his death bed, and, even then, by a Priest who professed Arianism, a heresy. So, it’s hard to see him as a “leader” in the Catholic Church, although his wife was indeed a Catholic. btw, Arianism has much in common with Beck’s Mormon religion, mainly rejection of the nature of Jesus as known by Christians.

  2. maria says:

    It’s not surprising to me. I also like some of what Beck says about politics, but he lost me as a viewer when he started misrepresenting the church. Also, his penchant lately for saying he is going to ‘take down’ the government with statements that he never produces makes me want to ignore him. That old story about crying wolf too many times.

  3. I agree. I wish he never brought it up on national radio. 🙁

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