I like Mike Huckabee the politician. He’s affable, funny, positive, and has a broad definition of what it means to be a conservative. He thinks, for instance, it is sound policy to ensure that poor children are insured. He would never have vetoed SCHIP legislation that expanded health care coverage for lower-income children. He doesn’t think cutting taxes is the sine qua non of leadership. And he doesn’t think illegal immigrants are the root of all evil – something several other Republican presidential candidates apparently believe. He cares about the poor.
But I am ever more concerned about Mike Huckabee the pastor. The hotter he gets, the more explicitly he wraps his candidacy in his Christian faith and the more he recruits other Christian pastors to hop aboard his political train. All the while his theology gets shoddier and shoddier.
On Monday he was the only candidate to address a conference of 300 pastors in Iowa. According to reports, he received three standing ovations:
“The biggest ovation he got was when he said, ‘God is not spelled G-O-P, and if the G-O-P ever leaves G-O-D then the G-O-P will lose m-e,'” said Jamie Johnson, owner of a Christian talk radio station in Iowa.
Nifty political rhetoric, horrible theology. The GOP hasn’t ever embraced God. It hasn’t accepted him, endorsed him, sacrificed for him, served him, or loved him. In fact, to the GOP, “G-O-D” simply represents another constituency not unlike the NRA. To suggest otherwise, as Huckabee is doing, is a massive disservice to God.
Here is what one pastor had to say about him:
“He’s pro-life, he’s pro-God, pro-family and I think that’s striking a chord with evangelical Christians here,” said Kevin Lee, pastor of a 3,000-member congregation in Sioux City, Iowa.
And therein lies the best possible evidence of the horrific danger that exists in turning God into just another political tool. God is sandwiched between abortion and the family in a conservative political trinity. Scary stuff. In times past, language like this would have brought charges of heresy.
Run for President Mike, do it well, but please make it clear that your faith isn’t a reason for people to vote for you. Tell them you are not selling out Jesus for votes and that doing so would be wrong. Don’t play the religion card… not because it is bad politics but because it is spiritually destructive.