According to a new poll, a press release for which I’ve just received, only about one in six Americans think Glenn Beck would be a good leader for a religious movement. This strikes me as similar to polling people on whether the First Things editors should try out for the New York Knicks, but if 17% of Americans say yes, it’s a question worth asking.
More interesting is the effect of his Mormonism on peoples’ feelings about him. From the press release:
The survey found that Beck’s own religious affiliation—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church)—may hamper his ability to lead a religious movement and limit his own appeal. A majority of Americans (57%) say they don’t know his religious affiliation, with less than 1-in-5 (17%) correctly identifying his religion as Mormon. But among those who can identify it, perceptions of the Mormon faith have a significant impact on attitudes toward Beck.
Among those who know Beck is Mormon and believe Mormons have similar religious beliefs to their own, a majority (53%) say that he is the right person to lead a religious movement, and fully 79% have a favorable opinion of him. However, among those who know Beck is Mormon but believe Mormons have different religious beliefs from their own, less than one-third (28%) believe he is the right person to lead a religious movement and significantly fewer (54%) have a favorable opinion of him. . . .
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans perceive Mormon religious beliefs to be different from their own.
Among white evangelical Protestants, the religious group with the highest favorability rating for Beck, more than two-thirds say that Mormons have religious beliefs somewhat (26%) or very (42%) different from their own. And similar proportions of Republicans, another group highly supportive of Beck, also say that Mormons have religious beliefs somewhat (29%) or very (40%) different from their own.