Huckabee: Christians should be firm, not angry about issues like Wash. atheist flap
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (BP)--Christians need to be "very firm" but not angry in addressing issues like the recent flap in Washington state, where atheists have placed a sign in the rotunda of the state capitol denigrating religion, former presidential Mike Huckabee told the Florida Baptist Witness in an interview Dec. 7.
"It's not a matter of turning the other cheek," Huckabee said. "Atheists resent that there's a holiday that Christians can celebrate."
In an interview covering a wide range of questions before preaching at Westside Baptist Church in Gainesville, Huckabee suggested that atheists who criticize the celebration of Christmas work on Dec. 25 and then choose another day for their holiday -- perhaps April 1, he joked.
"We shouldn't be angry, but we should be also very firm in saying that we are a nation that not only allows, but actually encourages people of faith to express themselves," Huckabee said. Citing foot baths provided for Muslims at the University of Michigan, he said accommodation are made for people of "every faith except Christians."
"It's perfectly legitimate in our culture today to engage in outright persecution against Christians with seemingly no social penalty for doing it, whether it's tearing a cross out of a lady's hand in California who happened to support Proposition 8 or the denigration of Christian values by not allowing even the traditional Christmas carols to be sung at a school," Huckabee said. "Regardless of whether someone adheres to faith, one cannot escape the cultural implications of those hymns and the Christmas holiday on the American way of life.... [W]e shouldn't have special rules for everybody but Christians and then those rules are pushed and we become the persecuted."
The former governor of Arkansas and a past president of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention, Huckabee was in Florida on tour promoting his new book, "Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America." He lost the 2008 Republican presidential nomination after emerging as the dark horse of the campaign when he won Iowa and then took seven more states before withdrawing.
The host of his own Fox News Show, titled, "Huckabee," the bright-eyed former pastor and graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., who attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Huckabee told the Witness he was uncertain at this point whether he will run for president again in 2012 as has been widely speculated -- but that he will "be a voice for life, for marriage [and] for the fair tax" he believes will "transform" America's national economy.
By 2010, Huckabee anticipates making a decision about the election.
"A lot of it has to do with what the political landscape looks like; what I am doing at that point," Huckabee said, pointing to "standard, classic, conservative principles" as his focus. Of the Republican party, he said they don't "need so much to be in search of the personalities who will lead it, but they need to be coalescing around the principles that had better bind us."
Barack Obama won the presidency, he said, in part because some conservative voters swayed.
"The large, simple answer is that Republicans did not close the deal and make a case because they had not lived up to the advertising of balancing budgets, standing against corruption, being champions for the family and for life as they have been in the past," Huckabee said. "Obama was able to convince people that he was a centrist."
Citing Obama's views on abortion and homosexuality, Huckabee said the incoming president poses a serious threat to biblical morality. Noting even some liberal Democrats don't go as far as Obama in supporting partial-birth abortion, Huckabee said, "It really is infanticide and I'm very troubled by that seeming, just total almost misdirection in his [Obama's] life, that he thinks that it's OK for that decision to be made right up until the moment of birth." Obama has a "seeming indifference to when life begins," Huckabee said.
And though Obama said he opposes "same-sex marriage," he supports same-sex civil unions which Huckabee says are a "prelude" to same-sex marriage.
The sanctity of human life is an important issue because it is the barometer of the culture, Huckabee said.
"I think it's a fundamental underlying issue of our civilization, because it really is a reflection of how we will treat each other," Huckabee said. "That's how we're judged in history. If we have a cavalier attitude toward any human life for whatever reason then once we have crossed that Rubicon it's easy for us to say, well, if we can take the life of the unborn, because it's an economic interruption or a social interference, then when a person becomes elderly and becomes an economic interference or a social disruption -- are we not making the same decision to terminate that life?
"All life has intrinsic worth and value and the moment we start devaluing any life and believe that my selfish motives, whatever they are, are of greater consequence than the life of the other person, whatever those consequences, we've already made a huge mistake from which we can't recover."
Of candidates who shared his views, Huckabee said he believes Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president, is "a wonderful person."
"I'm happy that she's a professing Christian. She's pro-traditional marriage. She's got a wonderful personality and I think a very important and bright future in the Republican party," Huckabee predicted. "Whether she wants to run for president and be part of the national process, I don't know and she may not know at this point. But I think she certainly energized a lot of people in what I call the base of the party and was a very positive force."
Huckabee said many people told him they would have voted for him but sincerely believed he could not win, and so therefore voted for another candidate. He told the Witness that while there was no obligation on the part of Christians to vote for him, it is "illogical" for them to try to outmaneuver the situation and that it could cause them to be "permanently marginalized" for a long while.
"Christians should never involve themselves in politics based on the process. It ought to be the principles," Huckabee said. "And what this last election revealed was that there were many people who had fallen into the trap of worshipping at the altar of process instead of adhering to the idea of godly principles."
In a direct statement, Huckabee challenged Baptists to step up to the plate in defending a biblical worldview.
"What I hope is that Southern Baptists in particular and evangelicals in general will recognize that if they are not the voice for life and traditional marriage, then don't expect the secularists to take up the cause," Huckabee said. "If we don't adhere to what we believe to be our biblical and eternal principles, then we have no reason to complain when we lose those principles in the public marketplace."
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, on the Web at www.FloridaBaptistWitness.com.