Foreign observers of the American scene must have been perplexed by the "Restore America" rally on the National Mall last weekend. They saw a sea of white faces listen intently to a Mormon TV host - Glenn Beck - speaking of America's need to "return to God". No politics, no Obama-bashing. What was going on here?
Beck's mission became clearer after the rally, when he told Fox News that President Obama practices a form of Christianity "that most Christians would not recognize."
This attempt to label President Obama as a faux-Christian is an outreach by the leader of the Tea Party to the Christian Right - that group of white Americans who represented the conservative base for George W. Bush. Here Beck has been wildly successful as conservative "Christian" leaders have demanded to see President Obama's baptism certificate. So the "Birthers" (who deny that Obama was born in the US) are joined at the hip with the "Dunkers" (who deny that he was ever baptized).
Peer Meinert of Die Welt watched Beck's "Restore America" rally and recognized its threat to President Obama.
Die Menschenmenge scheint kein Ende zu nehmen, es ist eine der größten Demonstrationen seit Jahren in Washington. Zehntausende, womöglich hunderttausende Ultra-Konservative und religiöse Rechte sind an diesem Samstag vor das symbolträchtige Lincoln-Denkmal an der National Mall gezogen. Die Stimmung schwankt zwischen nationalem Erweckungserlebnis und Anti-Obama-Protest – in kaum einem anderen westlichen Land ist eine derartige Verquickung von Politik, Patriotismus und Religion heute noch möglich.
„Etwas, das jenseits unserer Vorstellungskraft liegt, vollzieht sich gerade“, ruft Glenn Beck (56), radikaler TV-Moderator und Organisator der Veranstaltung. Die Menschenmenge rast. „Amerika beginnt heute, sich wieder Gott zuzuwenden.“ Wieder brandender Applaus.
(There seems to be no end to the crowd of people; it is one of the largest demonstrations in Washington in years. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of are drawn on this Saturday to the foot of the iconic Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. The mood varies between a national revival meeting and an anti-Obama protest. Perhaps in no other Western country would such a fusion of politics, patriotism and religion still be possible.
“Something beyond our imagination is taking place right now.” Exclaims Glenn Beck (56), radical TV host and the organizer of the event. The crowd erupts. “Today America begins again to turn to God.” Once again a huge wave of applause.)
Read my complete translation of Meinert's piece at Watching America.