Last month, shortly after Pope Francis ended his visit in the United States, the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel blew up what had been a fairly culture-war-free visit by announcing that the pope had met secretly with its client Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has been attempting to block her office form issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
After Liberty Counsel made the Davis meeting into a national news story, the Vatican was forced to clarify that Davis was one of several people who had been brought to see the pope at the end of his visit and that the pontiff “did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” The only “real audience” the pope granted, it turned out, was with a former student and his same-sex partner
But Mike Huckabee, who says he spoke with Davis about the meeting at the Values Voter Summit, insisted in an interview with Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson yesterday that Davis and the pope “visited privately, just the two of them, for about 15 minutes” and that it is “elitist” forces in the Vatican who are trying to downplay the pope’s support for Davis’ cause. Outside of that “elitist world,” he said, people realize that Davis’ case could mark “the beginning of the criminalization of Christianity.”
“Now, why the Vatican is trying to downplay this meeting, the only thing I can figure is that many of the very liberal elements, not only of the media, but in some cases of the Catholic Church want to distance themselves because in their elitist world, Kim Davis is an unpopular figure,” Huckabee said. “But I’m telling you, wherever she goes and wherever I see people, in every airport I get on a plane and people say, ‘Thanks for standing up for Kim Davis.’ It’s very different because people realize that this is the beginning of the criminalization of Christianity if we don’t stand up to it.”
Scientific polls contradict Huckabee’s anecdotal evidence about Davis’ popularity.
Huckabee later suggested that the pope fire the Vatican officials who have tried to downplay his meeting with Davis and paint him as more moderate on social issues: “I’d like to think that at some point the pope might start reading the press clips and maybe fire some of the people who are trying to represent him. I know, as a candidate, if I had press people that were out there misrepresenting my views, they wouldn’t be my press people any longer.”