Smoky Mountains Sunrise

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Media's Selective Religious Test

By Phil Lawler

As I have noted before, the media have trouble dealing with the religious beliefs of Mike Huckabee. It's happening again-- or perhaps I should say still.

[Disclaimer: In what follows I do not intend to imply my support for Huckabee. The fact is, I don't support him-- as a presidential candidate. As an unabashed Christian confronting the media, however, he has my sympathy.]

In last night's debate among the Republican hopefuls in South Carolina, Gov. Huckabee was singled out for a question about Christian beliefs. His response was remarkable. Let's go to the transcript:

CAMERON: Governor Huckabee, to change the subject a little bit and focus a moment on electability. Back in 1998, you were one of about 100 people who affirmed, in a full-page ad in the New York Times, the Southern Baptist Convention's declaration that, quote, "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband." Women voters in both parties harshly criticized that. Is that position politically viable in the general election of 2008, sir?

HUCKABEE: You know, it's interesting, everybody says religion is off limits, except we always can ask me the religious questions. So let me try to do my best to answer it.


And since -- if we're really going to have a religious service, I'd really feel more comfortable if I could pass the plates, because our campaign could use the money tonight, Carl.



The whole context of that passage-- and, by the way, it really was spoken to believers, to Christian believers. I'm not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it. I don't try to impose that as a governor and I wouldn't impose it as a president. But I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly, whether I'm a president or whether I'm not a president...

Right on target. With a little joke tossed in to soften the blow, Huckabee makes the relevant point: that he, and only he, is subjected to questioning about his religious beliefs. Why? Maybe because he makes no bones about the fact that his beliefs influence his public stands. More likely because those beliefs are sharply at odds with those of the comfortably secular media establishment.

Mr. Cameron wonders whether some voters might be worried by Huckabee's professed beliefs, as indeed they might. But why not apply the same standard to other presidential hopefuls? Mitt Romney might be asked whether he really expects to ascend to an equal status with Jesus and rule over some distant planet. Fred Thompson could be asked why he never goes to church. John McCain could be questioned about the intense disputes among his Episcopalian confreres over same-sex marriage and homosexual bishops. Rudy Giuliani could be asked to reconcile his multiple partnerships with the Catholic teaching on indissolubility of marriage. But those questions are not asked; only Huckabee faces the theological quizzing.

Then again, maybe Huckabee shouldn't complain-- as a matter of fact you'll notice that he didn't complain, merely made a salient point-- because the questions give him opportunities to give some very good answers. Thus, when he continued with his response to the question above, the debate audience was treated to the sort of exhortation that one ordinarily does not hear in a political debate.

... the point-- and it comes from a passage of scripture in the New Testament book of Ephesians-- is that as wives submit themselves to the husbands, the husbands also submit themselves, and it's not a matter of one being somehow superior over the other. It's both mutually showing their affection and submission as unto the Lord.

So with all due respect, it has nothing to do with presidency. I just wanted to clear up that little doctrinal quirk there so that there's nobody who misunderstands that it's really about doing what a marriage ought to do and that's marriage is not a 50/50 deal, where each partner gives 50%. Biblically, marriage is 100/100 deal. Each partner gives 100% of their devotion to the other and that's why marriage is an important institution, because it teaches us how to love.

1 comment:

Diane Carr said...

Maybe Huckabee gets asked the "religion question," because he talks about it more than the other candidates and wields it as a tool. Far from being a private matter which informs his public policies, he is using his faith as a wedge issue which serves only to divide, rather than to unite, and his candidacy seems to appeal to Christians whose absolute pro-life beliefs outweigh concerns about the economy, national security, health care, etc.
Religion is the most powerful issue in people's lives and mixing it with politics can leave many faithless (witness Europe).

Diane Carr