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Mike Huckabee's Religious Authoritarianism: Authoritarian, Vertical Politics

Does Mike Huckabee Believe in Vertical, Authoritarian Relationships?


Many expressed concern that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was more of a Christian Nationalist than he let on. His claim that Christians must win America for Christ was highly suggestive, and his desire to amend the Constitution to align it with 'God's standards' was worse. There are also less explicit ways to communicate authoritarian and theocratic principles to those who are in the know, for example with Mike Huckabee's rhetoric about 'vertical politics.'

Mike Huckabee revealed some interesting views while delivering a sermon in a church:

"When we become believers, it's as if we have signed up to be part of God's Army, to be soldiers for Christ," Huckabee told the enthusiastic audience. ...Huckabee mixed homespun jokes into his sermon and added a more religious tone than in his political speeches, not just quoting from the Bible but citing specific verses and talking about the serious side of faith.

"When you give yourself to Christ, some relationships have to go," he said. "It's no longer your life; you've signed it over." Likening service to God to service in the military, Huckabee said "there is suffering in the conditioning for battle" and "you obey the orders."

Source: The Washington Post

A person's life is no longer their own? Christians have to "obey the orders" in some "battle"? This makes more sense in light of his statement in the New Hampshire debate that Americans are "tired of everything being horizontal — left, right, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican. They’re looking for vertical leadership that leads up, not down.”

What did Huckabee mean by "horizontal" and "vertical" leadership? These are code words: horizontal leadership means limited authority among equals while vertical leadership means an authoritarian system with one or few absolute leaders at the top while the rest "obey the orders" they are given because their lives do not belong to themselves anymore.

Conservative evangelicals often talk about the need to prioritize their vertical relationships with God first and foremost before worrying about horizontal relationships among people. It's the individualized "get right with God" approach of conservative Protestantism. ...I know this is so because I've been present a number of times when "vertical" rhetoric -- the exact word -- has been used in evangelical circles. It's indeed a way of speaking one hears in many churches, part of the faith vocabulary of the evangelical and fundamentalist subculture.

Source: Streetprophets (via Carpetbagger)

Emphasizing "vertical" leadership and "vertical" relationships of authority is a way to promote the absolute authority of a few over many. God is perceived as sitting at the top and deserving absolute, unquestioning obedience; God's representatives — priests, ministers, churches, etc. — of course come next and have the authority to interpret God's will, enforce God's commands, and ensure that no one disobey.

Vertical relationships are relationships between people who aren't equal and that's how authoritarian Christians conceive of human society: women are not equal to men, children are not equal to parents, employees are not equal to bosses, non-Christians are not equal to Christians, and so forth. Vertical relationships are relationships in which those below are obligated to obey whatever orders come from above.

Horizontal relationships are anathema to authoritarian Christians because they imply that everyone exists on an equal playing field, that everyone is (at least in theory) capable to having some authority, and that no one is to be privileged. Horizontal family relationships mean that men and women are equal partners and that children cannot be treated as property. Horizontal political relationships mean that politicians are answerable to voters and cannot act like they are above the law. Horizontal economic relationships mean that workers might have a voice in the running of a company while managers cannot take everything for themselves.

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