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Should Preachers Like Mike Huckabee Run for Public Office?

A Unitarian minister says Americans have always been wary of electing 'reverend politicians,' and for good reason.

The issue of Mitt Romney's Mormon faith and how it might influence him as president has dominated the nation's airwaves and chat rooms for months. Of much greater relevance to the tradition of church-state separation, however, is Mike Huckabee. Is it appropriate to elect a minister of the gospel as president of the United States? 

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Huckabee, a former governor, is utterly open about being a Baptist pastor.  His faith, in fact, is his political meal ticket.  Before entering politics, he served several congregations and then as president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. More tellingly, he appears to view his foray into government service as a strategy to leverage his Christian creed. 

"Government knows it does not have the answer, but it's arrogant and acts as though it does," Huckabee told a convention of Baptist preachers in 1998, when he was governor of Arkansas. "Church does have the answer but will cowardly deny that it does and wonder when the world will be changed." To redeem the fallen government, Gov. Huckabee issued a religious call to arms: “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."      

 

If you think that kind of talk is well suited for the pulpit but ill-suited for the White House, you’re not alone. American ambivalence toward reverend politicians stems back to the nation's founding. Elected in 1775, the Rev. John Zubly, a Georgia Presbyterian émigré from Switzerland, was the first man of the cloth to serve in the Continental Congress. John Adams groused to his wife, “I cannot but wish he may be the last.”

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Forrest Church

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