huckabee6.jpgIt’s one thing for lefty atheists to ring alarm bells about Mike Huckabee’s use of religion in his presidential campaign. It’s quite another for a conservative evangelical former member of the Bush administration to do so. Peter Wehner, a longtime Bush aide and fellow at The Ethics and Public Policy Center–whose mission, “to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues,” ain’t exactly erecting a high wall of separation between church and state–takes Huckabee to task in The Washington Post for playing the Jesus card:

This is a man who, in 1998, when explaining to a Baptist pastors conference why he got involved in politics, answered, “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. . . . I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.”
Now isn’t that odd — a former pastor who leaves his ministry so he can get involved in politics because he “knew government didn’t have the real answers.”
….Invoking one’s faith is not unprecedented in American politics and is not, by itself, disconcerting. It can even be reassuring. But it is also fraught with danger. If certain lines — inherently ambiguous lines — are crossed and faith becomes a tool in a political campaign, it can damage our civic comity and our politics and demean our faith.
Religious beliefs should play a role in our public life, especially when it comes to great moral questions…. but there are no Christian or Hindu parties in America. That is as it ought to be.
And for those of us who are Christian, there is an important context to bear in mind: Jesus’s entire ministry was directed against the pretensions of earthly power, and Christianity is trans-political, beholden to no party and no ideology. The City of Man and the City of God are different, and we should respect and honor those differences.
Mike Huckabee, by all accounts a faithful Christian, may not have crossed any bright lines yet — but he’s edging close to them. He should pull back now, before his political ambitions injure what he claims to care about, and undoubtedly does care about, most.

Of course, one disgruntled member of the conservative elite does not an evangelical Huckabee backlash make. But God-o-Meter will be keeping its eyes open for other Christian conservatives raising the same kinds of red flags. After all, evangelicals advising Mitt Romney have been grousing for some time now that Huckabee is campaigning to be pastor-in-chief.


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