Although Mike Huckabee may not have a theology degree, he has been and continues to be an ordained Baptist minister. Why did he make the move from the pulpit to political life? According to Huckabee, he entered politics because he wanted to bring Jesus Christ to the nation: "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." He also said "I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."
Although he admits that he would phrase it differently today, he doesn't repudiate his original views. This means that he entered politics solely for the sake of using politics to promote his religion.
In 1998, Huckabee told a Baptist convention that “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ,” and explained why he gave up pastoring for political campaigning: “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.”
Source: The Jewish Week [emphasis added]
Non-Christians should be very concerned about a politician who insists that only by following his religion can we solve problems in society — and, even worse, that his entire reason for getting into politics was to promote his religion as the solution to problems in society. That may not be the worst part, though: in order assuage people's concerns, Huckabee basically denied the principles of his faith in a manner that should be offensive to all Christians:
Asked about why his comments about reclaiming the nation for Christ shouldn’t alarm Jewish voters he said “If you understand what that means, it means that if that were to happen, this is the Jesus who said ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ What it means is that you wouldn’t have children going hungry at night; you wouldn’t have women having the daylights beat out of them by abusive, alcoholic husbands.”
Jewish voters shouldn’t object to that concept, he said, because it does not imply political coercion, only a personal view of a perfected world.
“It doesn’t mean everybody would go to the same church as I do and pay their tithe; it does mean there would be a civility, a stand against corruption,” he said. [emphasis added]
Since when does "accepting Christ" into your life mean nothing more than civility, standing against corruption, feeding the hungry, and stopping abusive husbands? The phrase "accepting Christ into your life" has very definitive and theological connotations to evangelical Christians involving a personal relationship with God, being saved from eternal damnation in hell, and a transformative life experience. It's definitely not just about becoming more civil towards others.
In fact, conservative evangelicals have criticized liberal, mainline Christians for treating Christianity as if it were just a positive philosophy of living. Here, though, Mike Huckabee's comments sound a lot like just that because he's portraying the acceptance of Jesus Christ into one's life as little more than learning how to help others and becoming a nicer person.
Besides, you certainly don't need Jesus Christ, Christianity, or any religion to accomplish any of what Huckabee describes. We should be able to have an effective, honest government without politicians pandering to religion to accomplish it. Far from assuaging non-Christians' concerns, Mike Huckabee's "clarification" only serves to reinforce the idea that he wants to promote his religion in the government.
“I understand why he doesn’t want to insult the 15 percent of the country that isn’t Christian,” said Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). “But he apparently still doesn’t understand the difference between his role as a preacher and his role as a potential president.”
Huckabee, Forman said, “is not running to be pastor in chief, he’s running for commander in chief. Until he realizes that, he’s not ready for prime time.” [emphasis added]
This is the distinction which so many politicians don't seem to understand — and perhaps because so many voters don't seem to quite understand it either. Political offices are civil, secular offices created for civil, secular purposes. Our elected representatives are responsible for the creation and execution of civil laws, not the administration of a faith-based community.
Elected representatives have absolutely no responsibility or authority over any religious matters. They cannot tell people when to pray, how to pray, what to pray, or to whom prayers should be directed. They don't even have the authority to recommend praying over not praying. Politicians cannot promote any one religion, theological tradition, or religious belief over any others as any sort of solution to any problems.