Mike Huckabee broke his silence on Monday and defended his decision to give clemency to a convict said to be responsible for the ambush murder of four Seattle police officers. I have an odd connection to Huckabee. He told Katie Couric, during the 2007 primary race, that the book by my Religious Right leader father, Francis Schaeffer, titled How Should We Then Live?, was his favorite book. The book is credited (along with others my father wrote) for starting the evangelical wing of the anti-abortion movement.
In Huckabee's more than 1000 pardons of criminals that prosecutors and victims objected to in Arkansas, Huckabee most often cited his belief in "redemption" as his "reason." This was a weird flip side to another born-again governor -- George Bush -- never pardoning anyone, of which more in a moment. (I have an odd connection with W. Bush too in that my parents were friends of President Bush Sr.)
Huckabee's extreme and literal born-again fundamentalist views about people's path to God led to tragic real world consequences. His religious views obviously trumped common sense. And this was a direct result of a theology known as "Dominionism" (or "Reconstructionism") where believers want to not just believe their religion privately but "take back America for God"; in other words, rule on the basis not of American law but the Bible. I explain this trend in my book PATIENCE WITH GOD: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) .
Huckabee freely mixes his ideas about church and state and how religion should shape policy. That brings up a question: should any religious fundamentalists ever be elected president by Americans who want them to do a good, sensible, moderate job, not use their office for expression of their pet religious fanaticism? And another: wasn't one already more than enough?
It seems to me that Huckabee's absurd record of unwarranted pardons of dangerous criminals including killers and rapists is just another example proving that the heart of the Republican Party is now in the hands of religious extremists. (Jeff Sharlet makes the same point in his excellent book The Family, as does Max Blumenthal in his book Republican Gomorrah).
We have heard Sarah Palin saying that health care reform will lead to "death panels." We had George W. Bush saying that he felt God was leading him to go to war in Iraq. We have Christian Zionists like Rev. John Hagee rooting for Armageddon in the Middle East so Jesus will return all the sooner and then endorsing figures like John McCain who -- until called out on Hagee's crazy anti-Catholicism -- accepted the endorsement!
And now four police officers are dead because Huckabee (the not-so-covert Reconstructionist) takes every word of the Bible more seriously than the advice of prosecutors and victim rights groups.
It is clear that Huckabee is unfit for any national office and was unfit to ever be a governor. It is also clear that his record of insane irresponsibility was well known by the evangelicals that supported him for theological reasons in the 2007 primaries leading up to the '08 race.
It's interesting to note that using the same Bible Huckabee and George Bush Jr (as governors) both fell into the same fallacy with opposite results while each was equally nuts in his own way. They put their religious ideas ahead of good sense and loyalty to the Constitution, let alone to the law. Church trumped state. The idiocy that followed produced mirror opposites from the same source: a fundamentalist literalistic interpretation of the Bible.
Born-again Bush took the harsh eye-for-an-eye Calvinist approach and never pardoned anyone on death row and was gleefully executing more people than any Texas governor in modern times. Conversely born-again Huckabee grabbed hold of his version of "redemptive" "biblical" incoherence by carrying his religious theories of redemption to a crazy level and thus pardoning just about anyone his Southern Baptist fellow pastor cronies recommended.
The Bush/Huckabee contradiction shows two things.
1) The Bible can "tell" you anything you want to believe...
2) the Bible is a terrible substitute for the rule of law.
What Bush and Huckabee did share however was the arrogance reserved to those convinced they and they alone are doing God's special work. Huckabee was known to actually mock those who questioned his descisions. And Bush took it a step farther and actually mocked a condemned death row inmate who pleaded for her life.
Clearly the evangelical crowd that gave us 8 years of George W. Bush doesn't vote on the basis of facts. Nor do they care about someone like Huckabee's dismal record. They vote for "correct" theology and damn the real world consequences.
Four thousand Americans were needlessly killed in Iraq because the born-again, born again's president was in control. More that 50,000 were wounded because of the way Bush thought he heard God's voice. Hundred's of thousands of Iraqis are dead because Bush thought God had chosen him to lead a holy war for American exceptionalism and "democracy." Sarah Palin is also hearing voices and waiting in the wings to "lead" according to what God is "telling" her.
Four officers in Seattle are dead today because of Huckabee's allegiance to his interpretation of the Bible rather than to the U.S. Constitution.
How many more godly goofs can this country afford?
Frank Schaeffer is the author of PATIENCE WITH GOD: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism)
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