The Religious Right's Obsession With Beyoncé: It's Not Just Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee attracted a lot of attention this week when he criticized the president and first lady for letting their daughters listen to Beyoncé's music – which in his new book he calls “obnoxious and toxic mental poison” — and wrote that the singer’s husband, Jay-Z, is “arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object.”

Of course, Huckabee didn’t seem to mind performing a sexually explicit song alongside conservative rock star Ted Nugent on his own Fox News program…but that’s different!

While even former President Jimmy Carter has weighed in on Huckabee’s comments, the “War on Beyoncé” is nothing new among Religious Right commentators. Only Madonna has attracted greater wrath from the pundits we follow.

From speculating that Beyoncé is possessed by demons to calling her a “poor excuse for a wife,” the Religious Right has struggled to pinpoint just what it is about the pop star that they don’t like.

1. Sasha Fierce is a “demonic spirit” living within Beyoncé

After Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance last year, American Family Association spokesman Brian Fischer theorized that the singer’s persona Sasha Fierce was “clearly a demonic spirit” dwelling within her:

2. Beyoncé should be taken to an “insane asylum” for “demonic possession”

Right-wing radio host Kevin Swanson has a similar theory:

Charisma magazine similarly speculated that Satan had “twisted” Beyoncé to “use for his kingdom.”

3. Beyoncé is leading young girls into sex trafficking and death

Christian Post columnist Larry Tomczak, who made waves this week when he accused Ellen DeGeneres of using Taylor Swift to lure girls into lesbianism, warned last year that Beyoncé’s “seductively swiveling hips” were “causing men to lust” and putting her young female listeners on a “dangerous path” into sex trafficking…and maybe even death.

He also urged Michelle Obama to stop allowing her daughters to listen to Beyoncé’s music:

Now let's ask ourselves (not in any self-righteous manner but simply a prudent, mature approach): Is Beyoncé a role model? What message is she communicating to girls about relating to the opposite sex? Is she causing men to lust? Is the focus on virtue and inner beauty or seductively swiveling hips, championing a sensuality that can lead naive young girls on a dangerous path that could lead some even into sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is a very serious problem in the United States. Remember, the average age of a young girl drawn in is 13, and scores are lured by pimps promising a glamorous life if girls will simply follow the seductive example of many celebrities whom they try to imitate. What follows leads to abuse, abortions and abasement-sometimes death. This is a national scandal in our generation. Proverbs 11:22 says, "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion."

4. How is Jay-Z “different from a pimp?”

Huckabee isn’t the first Religious Right commentator to liken Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s relationship to that of a pimp and a prostitute. After Beyoncé’s performance at the Grammy Awards last year, the Illinois Family Institute’s Laurie Higgins penned a blog post lamenting the singer’s “soft-core porn performance” and accused the singer’s husband of acting as her “pimp”:

This past Sunday night's Grammy awards was a tragic freak show that demonstrated the entertainment industry's arrogance, ignorance of marriage, and disregard for children. It was a gawdy spitball hurled in the all-seeing eye of a holy God.

The spectacle was bookended by a soft-core porn performance by the not-single lady Beyoncé who twerked and jerked her half-revealed derriere in a series of "dance" moves that simulated sex and stimulated sexual appetite, while the crowd cheered in puerile excitement.

Beyoncé was later joined by her husband Jay-Z who seems to revel in the lustings of strangers for his wife. What kind of man gets pleasure from his wife's flaunting of her sexuality and from the certain knowledge that men desire to do things to his wife because of her arousing dress and actions? Is it money that motivates his eager embrace of his wife's immodesty, or pride that he has access to her body when all other leering men do not? If it's money, how is he different from a pimp?

5. ‘Beyoncé a poor excuse for a wife,’ will never find ‘a quality husband’

Suzanne Venker, a conservative commentator and niece of Phyllis Schlafly, was similarly outraged by Beyoncé’s Grammy performance, writing on her blog that Beyoncé’s “slutty behavior” made her “a poor excuse for a wife,” suggesting that she would never be able to find a “quality husband” that way:

There’s no wondering, Ms. Riley. Women like Beyonce aren’t just contributing to the problem—they are the problem. This isn’t a chicken or egg scenario. If women didn’t do what they do in the first place, men like Jay Z would have no opportunity to respond—poorly or otherwise. Classy behavior begets classy behavior. Slutty behavior begets a smut reaction.

Indeed, which means women haven’t really progressed at all—at least not when it comes to their personal lives. On the contrary, they’ve simply traded one kind of power for another. They may know what it takes to be successful in the marketplace, but they are clueless about the power women wield in love. Behaving as Beyonce does, or anything close to it, will not produce men who are invested in women. It will merely produce more Jay Zs, or “poor excuses for a husband.”

If women want a quality husband, they might begin by being quality material themselves.

Not everyone on the Right agrees with Venker, of course. In June, the conservative Heritage Foundation praised Beyoncé and Jay-Z as an example of a stable marriage and strong family — conveniently leaving out the pair’s strong support for marriage equality.