NRA May Lose Longtime Backer Glenn Beck Because Of Islamaphobic Conspiracy Theory

UPDATE: Beck Says The NRA Has Begun An “Ethics Investigation” Into Norquist

UPDATE: Glenn Beck claimed on his radio show today that he spoke to National Rifle Association executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre and was told that the NRA is “opening up an ethics investigation” to determine “once and for all” if Grover Norquist is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Beck also definitively said he would leave the NRA if Norquist is reelected to the NRA's board of directors in April.

Glenn Beck is threatening to quit the National Rifle Association over the long-debunked conspiracy theory that NRA board member and conservative activist Grover Norquist is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Beck has appeared as a speaker at the NRA annual meeting four times since 2008, three times as the keynote speaker.

For years, Frank Gaffney, a conservative media figure and the head of the Islamophobic think tank Center for Security Policy, has accused Norquist, an influential conservative activist who runs Americans for Tax Reform, of being “actively involved, both enabling and empowering, Muslim Brotherhood influence operations against our movement and our country.” Before targeting Norquist's association with the NRA, Gaffney feuded with organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference over Norquist's routine presence at the annual event. In 2011, Gaffney's attacks on Norquist caused him to be banned from participating in CPAC.

In 2012, the board of the American Conservative Union, the group that puts on CPAC, unanimously condemned Gaffney's smear campaign against Norquist. (Some of Gaffney's evidence against Norquist includes the fact that Norquist has Muslim family members.) Incidentally, the ACU board member selected to evaluate the veracity of Gaffney's claims about Norquist was attorney Cleta Mitchell, who has also served on the NRA's board of directors.

Norquist is presently running for reelection to the NRA's board of directors. The vote will occur at the gun group's annual meeting this April. Norquist reportedly circulated a letter among other board members that denounced the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory and labeled Gaffney a “stalker.”

On the March 11 edition of the Glenn Beck Radio Program, Beck hosted Gaffney to amplify his smear. Beck, who is no stranger to conspiracy theories involving Muslims, labeled Norquist “a very bad man” and said “if this man is elected, or re-elected and confirmed on the board of the NRA, I may drop my membership in the NRA.”

Beck's recent promotion of Gaffney's conspiracy theory turns the smear campaign against Norquist into a significant issue for the NRA, as Beck is a fixture at the NRA annual meeting, where he has delivered the keynote address three times in recent years.

During the 2013 annual meeting in Houston, Texas, Beck spoke for nearly two hours before the NRA faithful, urging the NRA to join him in a passive resistance movement that he compared to the Underground Railroad and lunch counter protests. At the apex of his speech, Beck called for NRA members to “follow the footsteps” of Jesus Christ, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, before concluding, “We shall overcome”:

We are the law-abiding God-fearing members of the NRA. We are Americans. And we will be clear. We will stand; we'll march if we have to. We'll stand because we must. But we will not be moved. Our right to keep and bear arms will not be infringed. We will follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we will follow the footsteps of Frederick Douglas, Winston Churchill, Thomas Paine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, [David] Ben-Gurion, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ghandi, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, hear me now. Hear me now. We shall overcome.

Beck was also the keynote speaker the year before at the NRA's annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2008, Beck delivered the keynote address at the NRA's annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. He opened his remarks by telling the crowd that while he doesn't believe in organizations, he recently became a lifetime member of the NRA.

Beck also had a prominent role in the NRA's 2010 meeting, where he spoke at the NRA's Celebration of American Values Freedom Experience. According to an NRA write-up of the speech, Beck, who was introduced by NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre as the NRA's best ally in media, had the crowd, “Applauding madly, hooting and hollering, standing up.”