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Face in the crowd
Last year, Ed Neufeldt took the stage in a black suit and tie at Elkhart High School to introduce President Obama, who was then touring the nation to tout his stimulus package.
Saturday, Neufeldt was in the crowd at Trine University, wearing a white Glenn Beck T-shirt, raising his arms to the cheers of the crowd after being pointed out by the event’s master of ceremonies, radio show host Peter Heck.
“I think that’s what we call seeing the light,” said Heck, referring to Neufeldt’s apparent switch in allegiances.
Neufeldt, when introducing Obama, was a laid-off RV worker with seven children.
During his speech, Beck derided Obama’s stimulus package. Many towns, even ones hit hard by unemployment like Elkhart, don’t want it, Beck said.
In fact, Beck said, he’s looking to profile some of these towns in the future, including Elkhart. He claimed Elkhart was one town that did not, overall, favor the stimulus.
“For the stimulus to be kicked off there, and for a group of Americans to say, ‘no, thank you, we’ll do it on our own,’ is in itself a miracle,” Beck said.
Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette
Glenn Beck speaks to a crowd at Trine University on Saturday.

Glenn Beck talk mixes religion, politics at Trine

Urges crowd to elevate God, downsize government

Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette
Radio and TV host Glenn Beck exhorted people to help start a new chapter in American democracy.

– With the gymnasium a little more than half-full of supporters, many of them donning buttons calling him a “True American” or some other phrase expressing their admiration, Glenn Beck began preaching Saturday.

He promised miracles. He talked of a God who would judge, and he put George Washington next to Jesus Christ as one of the greatest men to ever live. He assured the crowd that they see the light, while the media and many of the politicians – the “establishment” – are lost in darkness.

He warned that tough times are ahead, that there are consequences for the things done under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. “At some point,” the television and radio talk show host said, “you have to pay for those sins.”

Beck fervently mixed religion and politics the entire afternoon, regaling a crowd of a few thousand at Trine University with romantic images of the nation’s first president and calling for them to remain faithful to God.

Beck was the featured speaker of a rally organized by We the People Michiana 9/12 Project of Elkhart. He spoke for about an hour and 15 minutes, declaring that a new chapter of American history is being written now.

On what those miracles would be or what the new chapter of history would entail along with the problems on the horizon, Beck was vague. He cautioned the crowd to vote for candidates who wanted smaller government and whose souls are in the right place.

He told the crowd to keep being charitable and to keep God at the forefront of their lives. The nation was founded on the principles of God, he said, making America the most charitable nation on earth. But he said “progressives” and those in the establishment have downplayed God, causing much of the country’s problems.

“We don’t hate, we love,” Beck said. “We have charity in our hearts. Not the kind of charity they take from you, but the kind you want to give.”

He took shots at the media, calling reporters confused by what he says. He told the crowd the media just doesn’t “get it,” but the audience does. And they shouldn’t worry, he said, because the media is so far out of step with the American people that it doesn’t matter.

He also strongly criticized the media’s and other politicians’ treatment of the tea party movement, saying both have unfairly categorized it as full of dangerous or crazy people.

“I’ve never seen such a hard-core campaign to smear a group of Americans like this,” Beck said.

But Beck congratulated the crowd on the events of the past week, and though he was not specific, he presumably meant the primary victory by tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell in Delaware for a seat in the Senate.

“The best news all week is that the establishment is freaked,” he said.

Beck said he was not the leader of the tea party movement, that instead he was “a reminder.” His job, he said, was to remind everyone how they were the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, how everyone was there to help one another other, and how charitable they were.

“Remember who you were on 9/12?” he asked the crowd. “That’s really how you are.”

Beck’s eyes began to tear up several times during the speech, once when he talked about his son and again when he talked about praying with the niece of Martin Luther King Jr. the day he took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., for a rally last month. The event occurred on the 47th anniversary of King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

He also got momentarily choked up talking about George Washington.

His comments included how Washington rode onto the battlefield atop his white horse, bullets hitting his clothes but not his body, and his wife, Martha Washington, sewing clothes for his soldiers because they had none.

He also talked about how Washington kept his soldiers from killing and slaughtering Congress after the war for lack of payment.

“His soldiers really thought divine providence was all around him,” Beck said.

Beck ended his speech in a rousing crescendo, saying that what was once called “the American Experiment” is not dead but that the people are ushering in the new chapter of American history. With faith in God, he said, a new era is coming.

“This is the time, this is the place and you are the people,” he shouted to the crowd, which by that point was giving him a standing ovation that nearly drowned out the “God bless you” he returned to them to end the speech.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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