Posted by: Randy Allgaier | January 19, 2008

I Don’t Heart Huckabee


Over the past few months I have made reference to Mr. Huckabee as being a man with whom I have fundamental differences, but whom I respect for a sense of integrity and his fair spirit when it comes to issues on immigration and poverty. I never ever would vote for the man or even give it a passing fancy- but I can admire people with whom I fundamentally differ as long as we can respectfully agree to disagree and if there is a mutual respect for the rule of law.

All those nice things that I said about Mike Huckabee- I take it all back.

This man is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is a dangerous man. Sure I knew that he was anti-choice and was against gay marriage- but he isn’t the only one and it seemed to me that he had the sort of spirit that although he fundamentally disagreed with these issues, he understood the distinction between religion and civil law. He seemed to say some of the right things to make me feel less concerned about his religious zealotry.

I thought that he said just the right thing in response to the Baptist canon that “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband,” and “serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.” Many Southern Baptists understand that to mean that just men are meant to occupy certain leadership roles like church pastor. But in a debate last week in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mr. Huckabee said the position required no subordination at all. It meant, he said, both husbands and wives “mutually showing their affection and submission as unto the Lord.” “Biblically,” he added, “marriage is a 100-100 deal. Each partner gives 100 percent of their devotion to the other.” Maybe he wasn’t a literalist when it came to the interpretation of the Bible like so many others of the Christian radical right. I guess I forgot that he raised his hand when Wolf Blitzer asked the Republican candidates in one of those CNN sham debates about Evolution and divulged he is one of those Creationists.

Of course what made me see Mr. Huckabee’s true colors was his comments about the Constitution. Speaking to a not-particularly religious crowd near Detroit on Monday, before the Michigan primary, he slipped into an argument to amend the Constitution to ban abortion and same-sex marriage, “so it’s in God’s standards, rather than try to change God’s standards.” SAY WHAT?

Does the smiling guy with the dimples who charms the pants off of people with his folksy charm and who has said all the right things to assuage the concerns that a Baptist preacher would be in the position to affect secular policy really have an nefarious Christian agenda? I guess so. It sounds to me eerily like Mr. Huckabee is interested in seeing the United States as a theocracy.

Sure these statements are Republican red meat and were about abortion rights and gay marriage. But his remarks are troubling on so many levels.

First- I don’t understand how any fair-minded “Christian” person, even if they fundamentally disagree with choice and gay marriage, could consider writing limitations to rights and liberties into our constitution. Amending our constitution to limit rights and liberties is antithetical to what we believe that document inherently protects.

Second is just the idea that secular law has to line up with someone’s definition of God’s law. Who is the arbiter of what Biblical laws should be the model for our Constitution.

Are we talking about the fundamental laws of the Bible- the Ten Commandments? If so, neither abortion nor gay marriage is relevant.

Remember those Commandments?
1: ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.
2: ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
3: ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5: ‘Honor your father and your mother.
6: ‘You shall not murder.
7: ‘You shall not commit adultery.
8: ‘You shall not steal.
9: ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’
10: ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

Well I guess we should take the rights away of our citizens who commit adultery? Well I guess that would take out most of the Christian right. They seem famous for their sleazy sex scandal. I guess we should take away the rights of children who do not honor their parents who beat and abuse them. I guess any Buddhist or Hindu or any person not from the Islamic-Judaic-Christian tradition (Never forget that these three religions are tied to one another and all can trace their beginnings to Abraham) would lose their rights. I also think that this country seems to conveniently forget the relationship between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Slavery is just fine in the Bible. A father has the right to sell his daughter into slavery. Exodus 21:7 states, “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. Even Jefferson Davis hid behind the Bible when defending slavery for the Confederacy. “Slavery was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts,” said Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. Leviticus 25:44-46 states that “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”

Here’s a little gem from Deuteronomy 21-24: Then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house , and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house ; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. If a man is found lying with a married woman , then both of them shall die , the man who lay with the woman , and the woman ; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel . If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man , and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death ; the girl , because she did not cry out in the city , and the man , because he has violated his neighbor’s wife . Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

So in fact what Biblical laws are the ones that our Constitution need to reflect? As a gay man I have always found the Biblical arguments against homosexuality rather specious and very selective. If you truly believe that the Bible is God’s law and everything in it should be taken literally. Why are these other issues that are considered heinous- slavery and killing young girls who are not virgins- in contemporary society conveniently forgotten but the two or three references to homosexuality are hauled out of the morality chest when discussing gay issues?

Biblical interpretation- even among the most ardent literalist- is always conveniently weighted to their own specific prejudices and agendas. The Old Testament – the testament that defined most Biblical laws was written thousands of years ago for nomadic tribes living in the desert- not for the contemporary world.

So Mr. Huckabee’s desire to see the Constitution line up with God’s law is again one of those great hypocrisies that feed into hate and prejudice that conveniently extracts portions of the Bible as the final word on an issue. I had thought that Mr. Huckabee’s views were more those of Jesus- love, tolerance and charity and less about the draconian and millennially outdated laws of a nomadic people wandering through the desert.

Sadly I was wrong- Mr. Huckabee is just another one of those wolves in sheep’s clothing. More dangerous than Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell because he is so folksy and “appealing” in his “shucks I’m just a guy” sort of way that hides that evil prejudice and he can make many people, including myself, think that he was a Christian in the model of Jesus, not in the model of Falwell and Robertson. That is scary!


Responses

  1. Hi Randy,

    I’m a first time reader of your blog, a traditional Christian, and an enthusiastic supporter of Gov. Huckabee. I’m very sorry that Huckabee’s comments here have changed your opinion of him so drastically. While it is natural for you to disagree with him on any number of issues, and I wouldn’t expect you to vote for him, I wonder if you would entertain an argument that your first impression was actually the right one. I hope you will find me to be one of the “fair-minded Christians” you speak of.

    The language of “changing the Constitution to line up with God’s standards” can indeed be interpreted as you suggest – establishing some sort of theonomist Old Testament regime. Yet this is not what most of us mean when we would say such a thing (in fact I would be horrified by any such attempt, and stand beside you in fighting it – as would Huckabee). What we mean is that there is true justice that our laws and societies are trying to achieve, and when we are lacking this we need to be willing to change things. Great examples of this is the slavery, civil rights, and women’s sufferage amendments to the constitution. Here our laws were lacking true justice, so we amended the constitution, in our language, to meet up to “God’s standards”.

    Anyway, the overarching point that I am making is that there is no silver bullet here. There’s no magic rhetorical trigger that signals “evil religious language – must resist!” You can’t just react when a Christian says that our laws need to meet “God’s standards” as if we are the taliban – that’s not fair mindedness. No, you have to do the hard work of hearing us out and seeing what we are actually proposing to do.

    Huckabee is referring to his proposals of the marriage amendment and the human life ammendment. I understand your disapproval of the first, but surely you must at least understand why we think the second is perfectly in line with previous civil rights amendments. We see an entire segment of our population as vulnerable to death and dismemberment, even though our core values say that every human being is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because of intrinsic worth. We can debate this, but we simply do not see this as a matter of reducing liberty, but rather in protecting the core human rights of the weakest and most defenseless among us.

    Huckabee has admitted that it was a sloppy thing to say – in that people like you get the impression that you got. But it is my argument that it is very much the wrong one. We don’t want to establish some sort of Torah-driven theocratic legal system. We do want our laws to more perfectly embody the principles of justice and equity and core virtues which we (as Christians) believe came ultimately from God.

    I appeal to you to give him another chance – to be willing to forgive him using “Christianese” and consider that he really does want to do the difficult task of both staying true to his convictions and engaging folks more like yourself with respect and honor.

  2. I truly do appreciate your thoughtful comments but as thougthful as your comments are, I haven’t been swayed me. I guess I have seen such vitriolic hatred from the Chirstian conservatives and this absurd revisionist idea that we are a Christian nation founded on Christian values, when in fact many of the founding fathers considered themselves Theists and not Christians, an incorrect assumption, that I am very wary when someone makes some statements like Mr. Huckabee has.

    We are a nation found on democratic values- values that came from pantheistic Greek philosophers. The concept of democracy first appeared in Ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the writings of Plato. Our government is a Republic- which is based on Ancient Rome- another non-Christian pantheistic society. The idea we are a government based on Judeo-Christian values is simply untrue. Our principles are based on Ancient Greek and Roman thought.

    You referenced how when we amended our Constitution around slavery and women’s sufferage we were aligning our law to God’s standards. I don’t accept that. If you accept the notion that the Bible is the true word of God- we actually became less a nation aligned with God’s law by abolitionism and women’s sufferage. In both instances there were winds of politics that swirled around these amendments and they would not have, in my opinion, been passed without political will- I may be cynical, but I really do not think that alignment God’s law had much to do with either.

    While Governor Huckabee may admit that he was sloppy with his language- it doesn’t erase his intent to have a marriage amendment to the constitution. You seem to understand my concern that this would in fact enshrine inequality and is not in line with previous civil rights amendments. But Mr. Huckabee hasn’t said he doesn’t want a marriage amendment- and therefore- he does in fact support an amendment that is not in line with previous civil rights amendments not withstanding your arguments about the life amendment being one that does in fact rights.

    We obviously fundamentally disagree about the life amendment- I do in fact see it as reducing the rights of a woman to make a choice about her own body. As a man I am always reluctant to engage in too many arguments about choice- because I just don’t think it is appropriate for a man- who cannot understand the issue at the most visceral level should be engaged in the debate. So I will not engage in a debate on choice and life here.

    So I return to the marriage amendment and again reiterate that this in fact is counterintuitive to the Consitution. In my opinion, Mr. Huckabee thinks it is more important to put his own religious twist on the Constitution than he does about protecting rights. I truly hadn’t believed that Mr. Huckabee would support amendments to the Constitution based on his religion rather than respect for civil law. But it is clear that he is willing to make that leap.

    When an avowed Conservative Christian comes out and says that he will not impose his religious views on me in the arena of public policy development- while it is likely that person will not get my vote but I will respect that individual’s integrity and that person will have my respect- as Mr. Huckabee had. However when one’s religious ideology trumps civil law- I cannot and will not trust that person’s motivation.

    Thank you again for your thoughtul comment, I truly do appreciate your views and you posited your position in a way that makes me believe that you are an inherently fair minded person. I just have been a victim of the vitriole of Christian intent so often that when someone crosses the line of religion and public policy I cannot reconcile their position as being as fair minded as you are. Unfortunately Mr. Huckabee crossed that line for me.

  3. Speaking of abortion, I have a question for Christians everywhere:

    Does the abortion issue help you decide which candidate you’ll vote for? I ask because the more Christians I meet, the more this seems to be the case.

    Before reading the rest of what I’m about to write please note that I am a Republican and have been registered as such since age 18.

    Abortion is horrible. Photos are often passed around the internet that do their best to disgust, and there are videos online where you can see what happens during an abortion from start to finish. The cameras film everything. If a person is “pro-choice” I don’t personally see how he or she could possibly view the realities of abortion and not experience a change of opinion.

    That being said:

    I really think the abortion issue is a political hot button for Republicans, and nothing more. Not one of the Republicans who have been in office since Roe v. Wade have seen it overturned, and there have been DECADES of Republican “rule” in which to accomplish such. Not one of them will change it in the future either. It is used as a political tool during elections, and then forgotten about it until it is time to run for office again.

    A Republican was in office when abortion was made legal. He was powerless to do anything about it. The same can be said for any future Republican candidate: they’ll also be powerless to change the legality of abortion.

    Ah! But what about the SUPREME COURT, you might ask?

    We can talk about possible nominees to the Supreme Court until we’re blue in the face, but the reality of life is that yet another conservative nominee will not change a thing!

    Here is what I mean:

    Of the 9 Justices currently serving,

    1 was appointed by President Ford,
    2 were appointed by President Reagan,
    2 were appointed by President Clinton,
    2 were appointed by George Bush Senior,
    2 were appointed by George Bush Junior.

    So with 7 out of 9 Justices appointed by Republicans I ask, has abortion gone away?

    No.

    Will it?

    Highly unlikely (see above).

    When deciding which candidate I’ll vote for, the abortion issue is not part of my consideration simply because I know that no matter what a candidate’s opinions on the topic, pro or con, they will not change anything in this matter.

  4. Donny,

    Of course- Donny could be a woman’s name or nickname, but if you aren’t a woman and are – like me- a guy, don’t you think we should butt out of this debate? I have problems with abortion, but I am pro-choice- because it isn’t my body that has to carry a baby for 9 months and I also know that many of those pictures are inflammatory pictures of third trimester abortions that are rarely done and as far as I know are almost never done without there being a medical necessity.

    I am not God and I have no idea when human life begins and I won’t begin to question that. I have to believe that a woman explores her heart to makes this decision. I have known women who have had abortions – and in every single case- it wasn’t an easy decision but even if there was some regret, there was also a sense that they weren’t in the position to bring a child into the world.

    I don’t see all the folks who are pro-life going out and adopting babies that are already in trouble. Why? I hate to be cynical, but I have to think that most of the babies that are available for adoption aren’t white- and many of the folks who would want to adopt want a white baby.

    Many pro-life folks certainly have no problem with killing humans in war and through execution (I know some are not pro-death penalty, but many are too). There is also callous disregard about life when it comes to addressing poverty, famine and disease. Just look at what pro-life Fred Thompson said about the attention that AIDS is getting in Africa.

    I am aware that this issue is charged and divisive and if you are indeed anti-choice we could go back and forth until the end of time. But can we agree that this is a debate where men should butt out? We have no idea what impact this has on women simply because we are not only not in their shoes, but we are not in their bodies.

  5. Randy,

    I think you missed the point of my comment. Please read beyond my personal opinions. My point isn’t made until the last part of my comment.

    The point is that Christians need to stop selling their votes so cheaply, because it is very EASY for a candidate to CLAIM to be pro-Life, but logic shows they really do not care.

    So many Christians vote against good candidates simply because the Republican party claims to be pro-Life. Once elected, said party does nothing about it.

    The point, then, is that we shouldn’t even consider where a candidate stands on the issue because neither side is going to change it.

  6. Donny,

    I actually do get your point and while I don’t disagree about choice being a Republican hot button issue, I was trying to make the point that regardless of this fact and even regardless of whether or not it is a judical or policy issue, I feel uncomfortable with men having any role in the conversation- myself included and I also find it frustrating when people who aren’t willing to adopt the children that are already living in dire circumstance inject their opinions into this debate.


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