Mike Huckabee's campaign to be the Republican presidential nominee surprised a lot of people with its success. Huckabee's support came almost entirely from conservative evangelical Christians, the traditional base of the Republican Party. Usually politicians just pander to them, but Mike Huckabee presents himself as a true believer in their political agenda of Christian Nationalism. Many Republicans get votes from evangelical Christians without having to deliver, but Huckabee said more in favor of Christian Nationalism and Christian theocracy than any other serious Republican contender for the presidency.
Mike Huckabee's Religious Background
Born and raised a Southern Baptist, Mike Huckabee attends the Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock, Arkansas. This church teaches that the Bible is inerrant and that Jesus died as a substitutionary sacrifice to pay in blood for the sins of humanity. Huckabee has written that even as a teenager he hoped to work for an evangelical organization and for a time he led his own Southern Baptist congregation at the Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana. For some reasons, no copies of any of his sermons can be found. In 1989 became the youngest-ever president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention — even though he never obtained any sort of degree in theology
and spent only a year at a seminary.
Mike Huckabee's Alleged Theology DegreeEvery politician uses their religious beliefs to appeal to voters, but Mike Huckabee has done far more than any other to promote himself as a "Christian" candidate. In November, 2007, Huckabee said he was best qualified to battle Islamic extremism and America's culture wars because he was the only GOP candidate with a theology degree: "I think I'm stronger than most people because I truly understand the nature of the war that we are in with Islamo fascism. These are people that want to kill us. It's a theocratic war. And I don't know if anybody fully understands that. I'm the only guy on that stage with a theology degree." The Huckabee campaign later admitted that Mike Huckabee has no theology degree.
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 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.
The surprising success of Mike Huckabee in the Republican primaries has forced pundits to confront the power of the Republican Party's base of evangelical Christians and produced a variety of explanations. Mike Huckabee believes that the explanation is simple: God wants him to do well. Many political, social, and religious leaders around the world and throughout history have claimed a divine mandate for their actions, policies, or agenda. In most cases, there is significant resistance from the people — this is what makes having a divine mandate so necessary. It's harder for people to resist authoritarian leaders who claim to have God on their side.
As politicians push their religion harder and harder, some have questioned the propriety of making religion such a big political issue. Unfortunately, many of these questions don't criticize candidates for making such a big deal about religion; instead, they criticize reporters who ask hard questions about religion. Mike Huckabee endorses this double standard by promoting his religiosity but while acting disappointed when asked direct questions about his religious beliefs. Too many politicians, like Mike Huckabee, want to have their cake and eat it too — they want to the benefits of being perceived as pious, but they don't want anyone to look too closely lest they realize how divisive religious beliefs can be.
Many have expressed concern that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is more of a Christian Nationalist than he has let on. His claim that Christians must win America for Christ is highly suggestive, and his desire to amend the Constitution to align it with 'God's standards' is 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.'
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has 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 Mike Huckabee is pursuing. This places Mike Huckabee firmly in the camp of theocrats who do not want to live under a secular government or secular laws. This places everyone else in America in jeopardy.
A key issue for the Christian Right is installing Ten Commandments monuments and displays in public buildings. The purpose is to unambiguously link the Ten Commandments with American law, government, and politics. Mike Huckabee endorses Ten Commandments in public schools
to teach students that their country is based on the Ten Commandments. Of course, linking American government with the Ten Commandments necessarily entails linking it with the Bible and, in the minds of Christian Nationalists, with Christianity itself — even though Christianity isn't based on the Ten Commandments.
Contrary to most others on the Christian Right, Mike Huckabee doesn't believe that the absence of state-enforced Christian prayers is responsible for all of America's ills. According to Mike Huckabee, children who pray with their families outside of school don't need to worry about praying in schools with their teachers. Moreover, he recognizes that it's not part of a school's job description to teach children how to pray or what they should pray. While these views hit all of the right notes, they don't tell the full story of what Mike Huckabee believes regarding prayer and the relationship between prayer and schools.
Mike Huckabee on Legislative PrayersAn issue which has been gaining a lot of attention recently is the status of prayers at meetings of government bodies: legislatures, school boards, town councils, etc. Christians have traditionally controlled these bodies and ensured that only their Christian prayers are part of the official proceedings, but lawsuits have forced them to either give everyone a chance or only have non-sectarian prayers. Christian Nationalists oppose this and Mike Huckabee agrees. Mike Huckabee even goes so far as to argue that judges who strike down specifically Christian prayers to Jesus Christ are engaging in "judicial activism" and should be impeached. Mike Huckabee wants civil government to promote Christian religious beliefs.