Question: Is Glenn Beck Mormon?

Internet searches by people who want to know hit all-time high

Published: Saturday, May 30 2009 12:30 a.m. MDT

Questions about Glenn Beck's faith are being posed by thousands of Internet-browsing Americans still exploring affiliations of the wound-up fury of fiery conservatism.

Searches asking if Glenn Beck is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently reached an all-time high on the Web, according to an analysis of major Internet search engines.

Search no further, gaggle of Googlers. Yes, Beck is a member of the LDS Church.

"I presently serve as a ward missionary, elder's quorum teacher and serve with my wife in the stake's addiction-recovery program," Beck told the Deseret News on Thursday when asked about his church membership.

Not only is the rowdy international celebrity a member of the LDS Church, but he's also as active and passionate about his church involvement as he is about his booming career.

From Family Home Evening with "Primary song singing time" to attending church meetings, Beck said he and his "incredible" wife make it work.

The cresting wave of curiosity on the Web over Beck's membership into a religion widely perceived as peculiar may simply stem from his still-swelling fan base.

"I can't think of any specific reasons for the Mormon thing, but I can tell you his overall image is growing," said Greg Foster, director of programming for Salt Lake radio station KNRS, one of many stations carrying Beck's voice to his masses. "He's No. 1 in his time slot — not just for talk radio, either. He's just No. 1. I think it's because he represents the values and opinions of so many right now."

Beck's broadcast viewership more than doubled in January when he marched his liberal-thumping act from CNN's Headline News to Fox News, a station largely recognized as a preferred channel for politically conservatives.

The name of the lively host is searched more than twice as much as the name of the current U.S. president.

Google rates words and phrases on a scale from 0 to 100 depending on each query's reoccurrence. Beck's popularity in the past 12 months weighs in on Google's scale about 46, while Barack Obama searches landed around 12.

The specific search term "Glenn Beck Mormon" averages more that twice the searches of "Barack Obama" and even "American Idol," according to Google data.

Twitter analysis also shows a recent upswing for interest in Beck.

Research from software that takes data from several search engines indicated that Beck's name was the third-most searched item with the word "Mormon."

But Web popularity doesn't always amount to positive attention — or predict results.

Americans searched Arizona Sen. John McCain's name almost 2 to 1 over then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama during the year before ballots were cast in the presidential election, according to Google.

"With Glenn Beck, I think you're looking at a very aggressive, very ambitious man who has found a foothold and wants to be even a larger voice for that conservative community," said Maura Carabello, political strategist for the Exoro Group, a public policy firm. "So I don't see him taking the foot off the gas anytime soon."

Carabello said the latest fascination into Beck's LDS membership, which came prior to Obama calling Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to a U.S. ambassadorship, likely derived from increased national attention to rumors that Huntsman would be called to a Cabinet position, as well as buzz about Mitt Romney's anticipated presidential run in 2012. Both men are members of the LDS Church.

Beck, a conservative lightning rod, said he acts differently from the station to the steeple.

"I think I'm more passionate about subjects I discuss in church, but I present it in a different way," Beck said. "In church, I am in (God's) home, and I always try to remember that."

Beck recently addressed his congregation about a discourse given by church President Thomas S. Monson, "Be of Good Cheer."

He's served the church from various angles during his 10-year membership, but never from the position of a Primary teacher.

"Not yet," Beck said. "I haven't been asked, but when my ward Primary presidency reads this article, I'm sure I'll be asked to substitute."

But that doesn't mean the rambunctious host can't wrangle that young age group. The best-selling author is known for racing home to read to his two youngest children most evenings, but tosses all credit to his wife for keeping the two in line.

"She is an incredible woman who makes what I do possible," he said.

Beck will be in Utah on Saturday to speak at the Capitol for an annual fundraising gala for George Wythe University, a private, nonprofit school based in Cedar City. A limited number of tickets for the 6 p.m. event are still available and may be purchased by calling 435-586-6570.

E-mail: jhancock@desnews.com

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