Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet Confirms Facts “Irrelevant” When Discussing Islam

Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet Joel Richardson responds to my recent post deunking his claim on WND that “51 million” girls under the age of ten are being married to Muslim men in an “epidemic across the Muslim world”:

Personally, it is largely irrelevant to my primary point if it is 51 million or 1 million. Either way, its a problem, that any two vaguely morally inclined people could agree on. Which is why your article is so worrying and why SheikYermami has a somewhat valid point. I never stated a number. I only relayed what CNN stated. Again, your contention is not with me, but with CNN. My contention is with what you choose to emphasize and what you choose to overlook.

The CNN report, by Samuel Burke, cites the figure of “51 million” child marriages worldwide; Richardson conflates this with the number of such marriages in the Muslim world, and then extrapolates evidence from Yemen and Afghanistan to make his “epidemic” claim. However, Burke’s claim itself wasn’t quite accurate: the “51 million” figure is derived from worldwide Demographic and Health Surveys for marriages between the ages of 15 to 19, while Burke gives the impression that it refers to younger girls.

Richardson was too lazy to check Burke’s source, despite presumably being paid by WND for his writing.  I was able to find the relevant documentation in five minutes, despite not being paid by anyone (or living off donations from a “ministry”, for that matter). Apparently that does not mean I am more industrious or careful than Richardson – rather, it means that it is “somewhat valid” for Werner Reimann (SheikYermami) to claim that I am supporter of paedophilia who will perhaps end up “in a cell”. What should we infer from this, other than that Richardson is apparently OK with deploying paedo-smears?


Your failure to at knowledge [sic] the legitimacy of my primary point, which is that in all of the earth, the history, the example, that Mohammed left behind for his followers, is the primary source of religiously sanctioned pedophilia. This is an extremely important issue. To ignore this, while nitpicking data, in my opinion is revealing, Richard.

Richardson doesn’t care a damn for truth or falsity: because child marriage is a real problem, challenging inaccurate data about it is apparently blameworthy. It doesn’t matter that he’s misled his readers: the data ought to be correct because of what he thinks Muslims ought to believe and how he expects them to behave. Even if they don’t.

I should clarify that I don’t rule out the possibility that some Islamic ideologues might seek to justify child marriage by referring to the example of Muhammad. However, while this would certainly hamper efforts to end the practice, such a self-conscious rationalisation does not appear to be the main reason why early marriage occurs: those who have studied the subject (in particular, the International Center for Research on Women) highlight factors such as gender roles and a lack of alternatives; the value of virginity and fears about premarital sexual activity; marriage alliances and transactions; and poverty. This is why the problem appears to be worst in Afghanistan and Yemen.

Such factors are also cited in a recent piece in the Daily Telegraph by Robert Tait, noting an upsurge of child marriage Iran:

An Iranian NGO, the Society For Protecting The Rights of The Child, said 43,459 girls aged under 15 had married in 2009, compared with 33,383 three years previously. In 2010, 716 girls younger than 10 had wed, up from 449 the previous year, according to the organisation.

Its spokesman, Farshid Yazdani, blamed deepening poverty for the development, which he said was more common in socially backward rural areas often afflicted with high levels of illiteracy and drug addiction.

“Financial poverty of the families leads to children’s marriages. However, cultural poverty and ignorance is also an element,” Mr Yazdani told the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Of course, this context does not mean that we should overlook why the Iranian authorities have failed to act, and the report also suggests a religious factor:

The statistics will fuel criticism that Iran’s Islamic legal code allows children, especially girls, to be married at an inappropriately early age.

While Sharia law states that females can be married as young as nine, a 2002 ruling by the powerful Expediency Council laid down that girls below 13 and boys younger than 15 could only wed with their father’s consent and the permission of a court.

The Society For Protecting The Rights of The Child has highlighted a real problem – but the practice does not appear to be normative.

This is not the first time that I’ve documented Richardson’s sloppiness: in 2008 he claimed that the backdrop to Obama’s podium at his nomination acceptance speech was based on a piece of classical architecture described in the Book of Revelation as the “Throne of Satan” (it wasn’t, and Richardson backed down by claiming that he didn’t really mean it); prior to that, he relied on a  typeset version of a fifteenth-century manuscript to make the palaeographical argument that the word “666” in the Book of Revelation is in fact the Arabic for “In the Name of Allah”.

UPDATE: I’ve edited the above to remove some extra discussion of the Telegraph article. I’ve now posted this in a separate entry.