Conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck is devoting his entire show Thursday on his online TV network to answering questions on a topic he almost never talks about: his Mormon faith.
In an e-mail exchange with BuzzFeed, Beck said he typically avoids talking about the religion he converted to in 1999, in part, because he's "not a spokesperson for the church by any means."
"But it's also because a candidate's faith shouldn't be the determining factor in who you vote for," he added. "I didn't want to do this show for a long time because policy, not religion, should be the focus."
He ultimately decided to take on the issue after growing frustrated with the "intentional vilification and political grandstanding" he sees being aimed at his faith, and the attention being given to "jaded ex-members brought on as experts to speak about what they never truly understood."
"After seeing the way the media tends to portray Mormons as weird and out of the mainstream, I just thought it was worth telling the truth from my perspective," he said, adding, "I can’t say I’m a scholar either, but I can say I’m a guy who has honestly examined this faith and attempt to live it every day. Some of it is hard, and some of it is different, but before people believe what they hear in the media, they should at least listen to the other side.
Beck, who has been outspoken in his criticism of President Obama's longtime pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the "black liberation theology" he preaches, said it's fair to vet Romney's faith "if it's done through honest questioning."
"Though, faith isn't what should make you voe for a candidate," he said. "Harry Reid is a Mormon, and I'd be far more likely to vote for my shoe than Harry Reid."
To explore the subject, Beck solicited questions from his viewers and listeners, and said the ones he's received so far range from, "Can you drink caffeine?" to "What do you believe about Jesus?" And he stressed that the show's purpose wasn't to convert anyone to Mormonism.
"Think of it as, 'All the questions you ever had about Mormonism, but were afraid to ask because you thought they might send the bicycles to your house."
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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