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Austin Cline

Huckabee Opposes Secular Constitution, Supports Amending It

By January 16, 2008

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Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has whined more than once that he thinks he gets too many questions about his religious beliefs. It seems that he fails or just refuses to accept that a candidate who uses and relies on religion so heavily deserves extra questions about their beliefs — and even if Huckabee is getting more questions than other candidates, he certainly isn't getting enough.

That was made clear when he openly advocated amending the U.S. Constitution to transform it from a secular document designed to create a secular, civil government into a religious document designed to reflect "God's standards." This the explicit goal of Christian Reconstructionists, the most extreme among right-wing Christian Nationalists, but all adherents of Christian Nationalism support the general goal which Huckabee is pursuing.

"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards [so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family]," Huckabee said, referring to the need for a constitutional human life amendment and an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Huckabee often refers to the need to amend the constitution on these grounds, but he has never so specifically called for the Constitution to be brought within "God's standards," which are themselves debated amongst religious scholars. As a closing statement he asked the room of nearly 500 supporters to "pray and then work hard, and in that order," to help him secure a victory in Tuesday's GOP primary.

Source: MSNBC

Notice first that Huckabee is offering a stark choice between just two options: changing "the word of the living god" and changing the Constitution. It would appear that no other options are available — like, for example, leaving both alone and restricting "the word of the living god" to private religious practice while the secular Constitution continues to structure public, civil affairs.

Denying such a possibility is characteristic of those who deny that there is any legitimate separation between private religious doctrine and civil regulation of public affairs. This is not only the basis for the separation of church and state, but also civil, secular society today. The absence of any separation between religion and civil law is what you find in theocracies — and only theocracies. What this means is that Mike Huckabee is basically advocating changing America from a secular government to a Christian theocracy.

I think it's also important to notice how Huckabee singles out "how we treat each other" and "how we treat the family" for special mention. The latter, at least, is certainly a reference to gay marriages and gay relationships. It sounds like he fears that Constitutional guarantees of equality are wrong and should be replaced with theocratic oppression of gays. The former could refer to many things, and I suspect that abortion is at the top of the list — and so real liberty for women should be prevented by amending the Constitution to give clumps of cells that might become a person have more rights than living, breathing adult women.

Readers should remember that Mike Huckabee very recently tried to tell people that he somehow supported church/state separation:

In December, Governor Huckabee offered this charade on Meet the Press, words which obviously are no longer operative: "The key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone. And never would I want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict."

As it turns out, using the institutions of government to impose his faith is exactly what Mike Huckabee has in mind. Quick to denounce sharia law and "Islamofascism," Huckabee seems quite eager to embrace a Christian version of God's law here at home.

Source: Perrspectives

Re-writing the Constitution to eliminate its secular nature and to conform it to what Huckabee thinks are "God's standards" absolutely does entail having government institutions enforcing those standards — which is to say that government institutions will be imposing a particular faith on the people. So was Huckabee deliberately lying, or is he not bright enough to understand this? I honestly don't know, and I certainly can't think of any other alternatives. It should be noted that Huckabee is at least smart and honest enough to implicitly admit that the Constitution is secular and doesn't already mandate a Christian Nation or Christian government.

I wonder what such a theocratic Constitution would look like? Which of "God's standards" would Huckabee prefer to emphasize and which would he prefer to ignore? Perhaps Huckabee would approve of constitutional amendments that would authorize stoning gays, witches, and rebellious children. Perhaps he would approve of constitutional amendments that would require official Christian approval of all government officials and that would ensure the establishment of his own church as the official church of America.

Needless to say, no Constitution that is rewritten to match "God's standards" would be able to treat non-Christians or atheists as equals; even some Christians would be in trouble if they failed to uphold the alleged standards which Huckabee thinks are important. Some Christians try to claim that "true liberty" and "true equality" can only exist in a Christian context and/or require Christianity to exist, but a Christian, theocratic Constitution would inevitably destroy both liberty and equality in America.

Carpetbagger documents how conservatives are reacting negatively to Huckabee's comments — but not his desire to destroy our secular Constitution:

All Huckabee said was that those on the lower end of the economic spectrum are suffering in this economy. This is “socialism-lite”? It’s “gag-inducing”?

Huckabee is, to borrow one conservative’s phrase, “manifestly unprepared” for the presidency. But the fact that he’s at least willing to pay shallow lip-service to the concerns of those who can’t qualify for country club membership isn’t one of the reasons.

Few Christian Nationalists will openly and unapologetically argue for destroying America's secular Constitution in order to reconstruct America along "godly," biblical lines, but they can be accused of supporting theocracy when they fail to even dissent from — much less criticize — such a prominent endorsement of theocracy. Attacking his economic populism is legitimate, but attacking it while giving him a pass on his theocratic agenda is note even remotely legitimate. This is one of those cases where there are no real grey areas and you can thus tell a lot about where a person's real sympathies or agenda lie based on whether they criticize Huckabee or let his comments pass.

January 16, 2008 at 12:53 pm
(1) Kevin says:

It was only a matter of time with this guy. Anyone that far out of step with the majority of the voters in America is only one “comment” away from taking himself out of the race. Looks like that day has come for Mr. Huckabee. Good riddance.

January 16, 2008 at 1:16 pm
(2) Gotweirdness says:

What part of the separation of church and state does this fellow not understand? Apparently all of it considering his pandering to the evangelicals in every state.

January 16, 2008 at 1:29 pm
(3) DeeGee says:

Thank you, Austin, for illustrating so well why Huckabee is so SCARY. Wow, just as I am writing this, MSNBC aired a clip of what you posted.

But what is likely to sink his candidacy on the Republican side is how he drives a wedge in the fragile coalition between the economic conservatives and the social conservatives. That is, the economic conservatives (i.e. Grover Norquist’s Club For Growth) hate Huckabee because of his fiscal record as governor of Arkansas. This, along with his far-right positions on social issues, is why he did so poorly in New Hampshire and is why he will do poorly with Republican primary voters anywhere outside the bible belt.

To me, Huckabee is the answer to the question, “What if Pat Robertson had been a governor prior to running for the GOP nomination in 1988?” Part of me hopes he gets the nomination so he will get crushed in the general election (or Bloomberg jumps in).

January 16, 2008 at 1:35 pm
(4) Samuel Skinner says:

Great, just when I thought that the christian extrimists were less dangerous then their muslim counterparts. Turns out I was wrong. They don’t kill people; they seize power and then carry out their purges. At least the US still allows emigration, but it is unlikely the theocrats will win, right? (Sinking feeling)

January 16, 2008 at 2:51 pm
(5) tracieh says:

I wouldn’t give up hope yet, Samuel. There has been quite a lot of Republican backlash to the religious right hijacking the party. A lot of old-time Conservatives are complaining about the Xian Right agenda being carried out with their party. They want to get back to financial conservatism and government downsizing.

I do think the next few elections will say a lot about the overall future of that party and where it’s headed and where it will go. I don’t know if the religious movement within it will be slapped down with finality at some point, or will gain momentum.

But it is true that the Xian mission these days, for politically active Xian factions, appears to be “infilterate, infilterate, infilterate.” They want to own the courts and the executive and legislative branches. The courts, to me, are far more scary than either of the law-making, law-executing branches. They can pass and execute all the illegal laws they like–so long as there is an impartial USSC to smack them down when they’re challenged. But when the courts back illegal agendas, that’s frightening.

I’m not sure, though, how much help the courts could be with something like a legally passed, Constitutional amendment. That’s a bit distressing to think about.

January 16, 2008 at 5:44 pm
(6) Ron says:

Samuel Skinner (They don’t kill people) They don’t kill people?? Go here!


January 16, 2008 at 6:16 pm
(7) DeeGee says:

Tracie, I agree that the next election (or 2 or 3) will be quite telling about the future of the far Right. With the likely retirement of a few left-leaning SCOTUS justices, if they get replaced by more folks like Alito and Roberts it will take a while for that to be undone. We would need a few Democratic presidents (and preferably with a Democratic senate) to replace them (Stevens, especially, and Souter, who may retire, and Ginsburg, who has health problems) with others of their ilk. Then, we would have wait out other aging right-leaning justices such as Kennedy and Scalia and get them replaced by others more left-leaning. Thomas, like Roberts and Alito, are all under 60 years old. Bush has filled many lower court positions with right-leaning judges, too. At least the maverick 9th Circuit Court in the west is still intact.

As to the (federal) legislative branch, gerrymandering makes very few House seats competitive so the GOP will always have their right-wing nuts around, and they will have a strong minority presence to keep the other side scared to stray too far to the left or else they will lose their majority. Many newly Democratic-won seats in 2006 are in center-right districts, so they will often have to break with their party in order to remain in good graces with their constituents.

In the Senate, the small-state (read: Red) bias favoring the GOP will always threaten to be a majority. Even if they fail to achieve one, they will always have enough votes (41) to filibuster anything or (34) to sustain a veto.

The electoral college also has a small-state (read: Red) bias in its favor which will help the Right elect presidents in a tight contest.

At least some of the big right-wing nuts are gone from the House and Senate. Those include Rep. Tom DeLay and Sen. Rick Santorum, but there are others who will step up and take their place in the leadership.

January 17, 2008 at 3:05 am
(8) Godless says:

This guy is nuts! He’d be such a step backwards…

January 17, 2008 at 5:05 pm
(9) Jim MacIver says:

Huckabee is a retard! Unfortunately so is a large part of the electorate. at least this scumbag is honest, admitting what he wants to do so he should be stomped out soon.

January 17, 2008 at 10:18 pm
(10) Gotweirdness says:

“This guy is nuts! He’d be such a step backwards…”

Maybe he ought to move back into his cave before the discovery of fire and invention of the wheel. Huckleberry doesn’t believe in evolution after all.

January 18, 2008 at 4:50 am
(11) Anonymous says:

I’d like to see Huckabee as the Republican nominee because he’s so easy to beat that his nomination would ensure a Democratic landslide which would discredit his extremist agenda.

January 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm
(12) Sylvia says:


This has another implication. If the two documents are so much in conflict that, according to Huckabee, they need to somehow be conciled, doesn’t that completely wipe out the argument that the US is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles?

You cannot have it both ways: Either the two are in conflict and this is NOT a Christian nation, or this IS a Christian nation and…what? The founders were smoking something really potent?

January 18, 2008 at 5:40 pm
(13) tracieh says:

Sylvia–excellent point. In another strand someone else was complaining about atheist governments. I asked what was particularly religious about our own Constitution? It’s the same idea.

January 18, 2008 at 6:54 pm
(14) Ron says:

Tonight, Friday, Jan 19, Huckleberry was on CNN interviewed by Wolf Blitzer and said all the right things about the constitution the founding fathers and so on. So now the question become, will the REAL Mike Huckabee please stand up?My feeling is that you would be a fool to trust a lying preacher OR a lying politician. Huckleberry is both!

January 18, 2008 at 7:03 pm
(15) Ron says:

Sylvia (Either the two are in conflict and this is NOT a Christian nation, or this IS a Christian nation )
The religious right are not too bright. They got it backwards. The US is not and never has been a Christian nation, but, rather, a nation of Christians. There is a difference.

January 18, 2008 at 7:55 pm
(16) Dann says:

The more I watch the Mr. Nice Guy Huckabee, the more I see the redneck hick with a belief system that is goofy:
I suppose he’ll want to invade more Muslim countries to stop men from having more than one wife, to pour water all over their bodies so that they can go to Heaven, and pray to somebody who was nailed on a cross and bled to death for other people’s sins. My God, what is wrong with these people. And they appear on national TV.

January 19, 2008 at 8:47 am
(17) andy says:

He was recently quoted in an English newspaper as saying”Science changes,God doesn,t,so i’ll stick with God”.fortunately ,I can’t see this idiot being your president ,but the fact that someone considered a contender for the most powerful position on earth can say this-as a positive,not an admission- is frightening in itself.He’s basically saying”I’m too intellectually limited to cope with change in the world,therefore I’ll stick to the surities of a faith for which I don’t have one iota of rational proof.”As I say,frightening.

January 19, 2008 at 10:07 am
(18) Joan says:

I am always amazed by people who say they don’t “believe” in evolution. Evolution is not a belief system. You may not “accept” evolution, but that would put you in the same group of those who do not accept the moon landing or Elvis’s death. Ignorance is the first thing I think of when I hear someone say they do not “believe” in evolution. Everything they say after that is mush. Huckabee is unbelievably naive, as are most right wing christians. That’s very scary.

January 19, 2008 at 8:42 pm
(19) David says:

Should Huckabee become president and he institutes the Bible as the law of the land,will we be able to kill Christians and others who work on the Sabbath(Exodus 35:2)?

January 19, 2008 at 11:12 pm
(20) Zack says:

A lot of old-time Conservatives are complaining about the Xian Right agenda being carried out with their party. — Comment by tracieh — January 16, 2008

The Christian Right sees it just the other way: the Country Club Republicans have always taken their votes for granted, then abandoned them after the election.

Huckabee is succeeding exactly because he represents this large and neglected demographic.

In Huckabee’s first political foray, he took 40% of the vote in a race against an extremely popular and well-funded incumbent United States senator. At the time he was only 37 years old. The remarkable fact wasn’t that he lost — it was that he did so extremely well.

In the current race, Huckabee has come from nowhere to be a front-runner, and this is despite having nearly zero money, a skeletal national organzation, and significant hostility from the major media and from within his own party.

Don’t kid yourself. Huckabee is only 52 years old. Win or lose, he is the most exciting candidate the Republicans have, no matter whether all of them enjoy that fact.

If he doesn’t win this year, he has plenty of time to run again. Huckabee is going to be a force in American politics and culture for years — probably decades — to come.

January 25, 2008 at 10:50 pm
(21) George says:

I was watching the Republican debate last night. They asked Huckabee a question about the economic stimulus plan and he said that rather than give everybody a check use the money to build a better highway on the East coast. To paraphrase him he said that if we’re going to go deficit on the stimulus then spend the money where it would do the most good. Employ people.

His positions on the Constitution and evolution are abominable but if he can make good economic sense like that he might be electable.

January 28, 2008 at 2:38 pm
(22) John says:

Don’t confuse what Huckabee says from what he thinks or what he will actually do. He has made it clear he will say anything to anyone if he thinks it will get him elected.

February 17, 2008 at 12:49 pm
(23) theonethatknows says:

You will bow to GOD or Satan…

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