It isn’t often that I find myself saying “amen” to something that former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee says…but that actually happened last night as I watched his address at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. Though for the most part his views on the First Amendment, civil rights and, well, pretty much everything, are divergent from mine, there was one line in his speech that was close to spot on: “I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country.”
This is the kind of message missing from election cycle after election cycle in which where, when and how often candidates pray are key talking points; their religious beliefs are fair game; and courting religion-based voting blocks is commonplace. The reason I found his statement only close to perfection is that we have to hear it in context: it doesn’t require much stretch of the imagination (read: any) to know that Mr. Huckabee does care that Mr. Romney goes to church. That’s one of the many problems we have in our nation, in our electoral politics today—your candidacy can be hindered by not being a Christian or (gasp) by being a Muslim or (even worse!) by being an atheist. In a country whose First Freedom is religious freedom that’s unacceptable.
Of course, this was not Mr. Huckabee’s only comment about religion and religious freedom last night. He made the interesting (and possibly untrue) assertion that President Obama is a “self-professed evangelical,” which some have characterized as an attempt to say the President is lying about his faith. Mr. Huckabee also took a moment to address the controversy over religious freedom and the contraception requirements of the Affordable Care Act. For the second time, I found myself agreeing with his statement, in part. Mr. Huckabee is absolutely right “The attack on my Catholic brothers and sisters is an attack on me,” and this sentiment encapsulates the work of Interfaith Alliance—an attack on one religious group is an attack on all. However, Mr. Huckabee went on to say, “The Democrats have brought back the old dance the ‘Limbo’ to see how low they can go in attempting to limit our ability to practice our faith,” so again in context, is where our views diverge.
While we’re on the topic of religion and the RNC, it is worth noting that there are several religious freedom-related planks in the party’s newly-approved platform and our friends at Religion Clause have a very helpful rundown.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that in the beginning of a speech that would focus in large part on actions speaking louder than words, Mr. Huckabee managed to work in a pretty misogynistic jab at DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
“…the only hitch in an otherwise perfect week was the awful noise coming from the hotel room next door to mine. Turns out it was just Debbie Wasserman Schultz practicing her speech for the DNC in Charlotte next week. Bless her heart.”
I’d say his words spoke for themselves last night.