In brief, Skousen is a member of the church, sometime FBI employee, BYU professor, Salt Lake City Police Chief, author, and lecturer. He devolved from conservative to right-wing conspiracy theorist. He was denounced by conservatives of the 50s and 60s after finally getting to the point where he called President Eisenhower a communist agent and warning against a New World Order. President Kimball and the church leadership issued a statement in which local leaders were not to support or advertise for Skousen's groups. The 5,000 Year Leap and other Skousen writings flit about from American history in religious terms to worldwide conspiracy theories linking fascists, communists, rich people, and anyone else opposed to the Skousen world view.
This is the man Glenn Beck is putting forth as the foundational thinker for his 912 Project. Now, there is enough take-down material on Skousen out there that I do not want to rehash it all. But are we not alarmed that the man too conservative and radically right-wing for McCarthy-era Republicans has become the new touchstone for the tea-baggers and birthers of today?
I cannot read Beck's mind, but after reading this article from the Dallas Morning News I have a theory for what might be going on. Beck, like Skousen before him, is trying to identify secret combinations like those chronicled in the Book of Mormon. Since there is no proof of anything of the sort he has been reduced to groping about for any little perceived evidence that crosses his consciousness. The now-famous communo-fascist art history lesson Beck put on a few weeks back stands as the perfect example.
I think we are all susceptible to a conspiracy theory or two. For instance, there was a time when I could be convinced that the moon landing was a hoax (A moon rock with a letter "C" on it?! Come on!). It's just in our nature to tend to believe some of these. Most of us don't think President Obama is the Manchurian candidate or that President Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, but we've all got something.
But what happens if you take a particularly sinister conspiracy theory and link it your religion? Then it gets a little dangerous. Then you stop thinking objectively and critically and start seeing the the hand and will of God in your nutty theories. Then what happens when you a take an ascending figure in American T.V. and radio, a prominent Mormon who happens to be incredibly charismatic and has tapped into an angry segment of American society that feels disenfranchised, and really convince him of a grand conspiracy theory and link it to secret combinations that were prophesied by his religion? Could anything possibly go awry there?