As we noted last week, Mike Huckabee has been complaining that he has been subject to an “unusual level of scrutiny” because of his religious beliefs. But since his current campaign strategy seem to be largely based around playing up his standing as a “Christian Leader” it only seems fair – even his ideological allies admit as much:
Huckabee sometimes has bristled at questions about whether he would use the presidency to impose his religious views. But even some of Huckabee’s longtime friends say he invited such questions by running an ad that promotes him as a Christian leader.
“If a candidate makes his faith a part of his campaign, it is fair game,” said Richard Land, who has known Huckabee for 28 years and is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
So it should come as no surprise to him that people are taking a look at his record and finding this like this:
“I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.”
With that sort of approach to government, it only makes sense that Huckabee would use his use his government position to promote his religion, as he did when he was lieutenant governor – though he had to wait until then Governor Jim Guy Tucker was out of the state to do it:
Clerics, ACLU hit ‘Christian’ week in Ark.
The Commercial Appeal
3 February 1994
Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee’s proclamation of a Christian Heritage Week cheapens and trivializes the true meaning of being a follower of Christ, several theologians said Wednesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the proclamation part of a national attempt by the religious right to prove America was founded as a Christian nation, but the group said it will take no action.
Huckabee, acting governor during Gov. Jim Guy Tucker’s absence, signed documents in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday declaring the week of Feb. 27 to March 2 Christian Heritage Week in Arkansas. He said he was “somewhat surprised if not startled” that anyone would oppose the action.
“When I took the oath of office in this state, my hand was placed on a Bible, my oath was made, ‘so help me God,’ the very document we sign here says ‘in the year of our Lord,’ ” Huckabee said. “I don’t think any of us need to fear there is some inappropriate action taken when we simply acknowledge that which our forefathers did when they created this country and declared our independence that . . . all men and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”
Tucker distances self from Christian week
The Commercial Appeal
4 February 1994
Gov. Jim Guy Tucker said he rejected a request to proclaim a Christian Heritage Week but had no authority to stop Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee from doing it.
“We were asked to make such a proclamation several months ago, and I declined to do it because I didn’t think government should be in the business of promoting any one religion over the other,” Tucker said Thursday.
“This is obviously something Lt. Gov. Huckabee feels very strongly about. But under our state constitution, as we know from painful experience a year ago, the lieutenant governor is free to do what he wants to do.”
When the governor of Arkansas is out of the state, the lieutenant governor is acting governor and has all the governor’s power.
Christian Heritage Week wasn’t the only time Huckabee invoked God to push his political agenda – in fact he had a tendency to do so on a variety of public policy issues – as he did when he dismissed those who care about the environment:
ENVIRONMENTALISTS DECRY HUCKABEE `DEMAGOGUERY’
25 April 1998
Gov. Mike Huckabee engaged in “demagoguery on a scale beyond that normally seen in the course of public debate” when he said environmentalists were worshiping nature instead of its creator, a group of environmentalists says.
Representatives of 44 state environmental groups, organized by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, signed a letter to Huckabee on Thursday asking him to re-evaluate his position on the environment. Six of those signing the letter spoke to reporters Thursday at the panel’s office in Little Rock.
“I was astounded that someone who made it to a prestigious position like that wouldn’t have more common sense,” said Katy Elliott, coordinator for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Students for Environmental Awareness. “I love nature, but I don’t worship it.”
In a speech Monday to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Huckabee said he was a conservationist, not an environmentalist.
“I believe God made us and God made the earth. He gave us the privilege to use and enjoy the resources but never to worship them,” Huckabee said. “To me environmentalists are those who worship the things that He made rather than He who made them.”
Huckabee responded to the criticism by saying that hadn’t meant to insult environmentalists, merely “those who could be considered `radical’ or `extreme’ environmentalists.” But that didn’t stop him from, a few months later, equating his opponents with the Devil:
Governor’s ‘devil’ remark leaves Arkansas lawmakers unsettled
22 November 1998
Gov. Mike Huckabee says he’s surrounded by the devil, prompting some Arkansas lawmakers to wonder if he was referring to them.
In an article from a church publication, Mr. Huckabee was quoted saying that “as a pastor, I was surrounded by the things, the people, the language and the architecture of God. As governor, I’m surrounded by the devil.”
The article, circulated at a Legislative Council meeting Friday, dealt with how Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor in Pine Bluff and Texarkana, relies on his Christian faith more as governor than as a minister.
The article also quoted Mr. Huckabee saying he got into politics partly because “the people who were driving public policy had a world view that would never work because it was basically humanistic.”
Huckabee’s response this time around was to claim that he was talking about this like poverty and illiteracy, not referring to legislators as “the devil,” and accused anyone who had that interpretation of “jumping to absurd conclusions.”
As long as Huckabee is out on the campaign trail crediting God for his rise in the polls and as long as his supporters are suggesting that “God may be sending us a lifeline” in his campaign, the way he uses his faith to gain and wield political power will continue to receive scrutiny.