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Mike Huckabee, God, and the Constitution

Let me say upfront that I in no way favor mingling religion and government. Period. I believe in separation and the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Religion has no place in government or the governance of our country. Leaders, Senators, Congressmen, newspaper reporters (yes, and even bloggers) can allow whatever their beliefs are (whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, “other,” or some ethical humanist set of rules) to guide their ethical and moral behavior and frame their policy and political positions.

As for myself, I am Jewish, and when I refer to the Bible in this article, I am referring exclusively to what is more commonly called the “Old Testament.” Since Jews do not believe in the “New Testament,” it does not frame any part of my ethical or moral belief system.

However, I feel the need to address Mike Huckabee’s comments from the other day when he was speaking at a Michigan fundraiser in advance of the primary there. He said:

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.

So. We should change the Constitution to fit God’s standards. Now that would be interesting. Did he mean only relating to specific issues, or did he mean overall? And did he mean according to his (or a particular) interpretation or someone else’s? Does he mean only as regards “the family” and “choice?” Or does he mean all 613 of God’s list of do's and don'ts? Because the answers to these questions are pretty important. Because there are God’s laws; and then there are God’s laws. And pretty much all of God’s laws are open to interpretation. Even the sixth commandment. Is it “Do not murder” or “Do not kill”? Because they are two separate things, and they are, indeed, differently translated by different religious traditions. So, let’s take a few of those Biblical laws and see how we might implement them.

The Bible says: “For six days you shall labor, and on the seventh day you shall not do any manner of work.” The same applies to several festival days during the year. More days off? Hey, I’m all for that. Since it’s God’s law and thereby incorporated into the Constitution, those would be paid days off, right? Cool. Let’s see — one day for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year — or, as it says in the bible, the first day of the 10th month); one for Yom Kippur (the Biblical fast day of atonement); two for the fall Biblical festival of Sukkot (feast of Tabernacles ) — one at the beginning and one at the end, another two for Passover (first and last day) and finally another day off for the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). That’s a whole week altogether. And because they’re legal (according to the Bible), that would make them paid holidays, right? Don’t have to take them as personal leave days, vacation days or sick days, right? Even better. This God’s law thing is pretty cool.

The Bible says: “Do not withhold payment for work until the morning.” The Writers Guild should love this one. It means that one should be paid, and on time, and at a fair wage for one’s work. Even for “new” media.

Oh yeah. And there’s something else in Exodus about not putting a stumbling block in front of the blind. That has been interpreted to mean removing barriers of all sorts — from physical barriers for the disabled to language barriers for those who do not understand English. It also has been interpreted to mean that fraud or fraudulent practices are a bad thing (even when they are common business practices) and you should (or rather, shall) not do them. Hear that, sub-prime lenders? Payday advance people?

Oh yeah. And did you know that every seven years the earth is due a sabbatical? No plowing or harvesting. Nada. And that the edges of the fields are to be left unharvested, allowing anyone who wants the food produced therein be free for the taking? A whole year off from producing. It makes good environmental sense, and good social policy. Maybe a little left wing for many values voters, though.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • SteveS

    Thankfully, Huckabee has no chance of winning.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    The scary thing about Huckabee is that he posesses an ability to make the most conservative of Christian opinion seem moderate and palatable. One Christian conservative leader in South Carolina called him Houdini-like in this ability. His style is seductive and he’s a genuinely warm and funny guy. He scares the bloody hell out of me.

  • SteveS

    I think the reason why people are turning to him is because they see no religious alternative, not that he’s seen as moderate.

    He scares me too, but he won’t win.

  • Petrica

    The “separation” you mention obviously does not occur in the Consitution and even the word, as used in Madison’s letter, was meant to keep the government out of the church and to prevent the government from establishing a state church.

  • Clavos

    Amen, Barbara. If ever there was a man for whom the phrase “silver-tongued” fit like a glove, it is Mike Huckabee.

    And, despite his religious beliefs, he’s also very smart.

    Good article.

  • Arch Conservative

    While I support amending the constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman I do not support it for the same reason’s the Huckster does.

    He supports it because it’s what god wants. I suppor tit because it’s what the AMerican people want. Time and time again when the people have had the chance to express how they feel about the issue the overwelming consensu has been that marriage should is a traditional institution which has always been between one man and woman woman since the founding of this nation and that’s the way it ought to stay.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Why Arch, you sound just like a Democrat in your last comment. Who would have thought you supported the dictatorship of the majority and mob rule.

    Republicans usually believe that government exists to protect the rights of all people from demagoguery and democratic excess.

    Dave

  • Lee Richards

    I was an ordained Southern Baptist “insider” for years. (I have long been inactive, by choice.) My brother-in-law was president of a church-affiliated college.

    I have known many religious charmers exactly like Huckabee. They are warm, gregarious, humorous, compassionate–until dogma and doctrine are discussed or questioned. Then, they make it clear, as he has, that his version of Christian faith is true and anything else is false.

    I guarantee that his idea of real religious freedom is the right to be an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian–under his guidance and direction, of course.

    Although he is a very longshot to become president, his attitudes and beliefs are not uncommon among those who would be willing to gut the Constituion as he suggests.

  • SteveS

    In the 50′s, Arch Conservative would have supported amending the Constitution to have separate drinking fountains because that’s what the American people wanted.

    In the 1800′s Arch Conservative would have supported amending the Constitution to guarantee slavery, because that’s what the American people wanted.

  • Arch Conservative

    Who would have thought you supported the dictatorship of the majority and mob rule.
    Mob rule?

    I was actually referring to the fact that in every state but Az, that’s 18 states, where the public had the chance to vote on wether or not to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, the voters have overwelmingly voted in favor of the amendment.

    Now if you consider placing initiatives on the ballot and letting people vote on them mob rule than I guess I do supprot mob rule. But please do me the favor and don’t start whining about gay marriage being a civil rights issue Nalle because then you’ll be the one sounding like a moonbat.

    Nice try Steve but banning people from water fountains and forcing them to be slaves actually deprived people of their rights. As of writing this post every single American has the right to enter into marriage as currently defined by the law. Save your bullshit moonbat logic for someone else jerkoff!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Bing’s been nice to me, so I’m not going to get all over his neck. I cannot go along blindly with “the will of the people”.

    But often, and more often than not lately, “the people” have had it on the money while “the political echelon” has had it all wrong. In America, the solution of the banking and oil elites, who manipulate “the political echelon”, has been to dumb down the debate to confuse everybody. Hence Huckabee’s dumb remarks.

    It is evident to me that the big issue that America faces is the fact that its economy is going down the tubes because of its over-extended foreign policy. The insistence of the American administration of keeping thousands of soldiers in Iraq is sweating all the energy out of the American economy, while the oil companies, charging $100/bbl for a product that is less and less necessary, are squeezing every last dime out of the economy, driving it into a recession.

    But the candidates do not want to address this at all, and when they do it is with the glib generalities that indicate lack of interest.

    As for Huckabee’s remarks about modifying the constitution to fit G-d’s law, I have no trouble with it – except as the author points out, G-d in this case is Jesus. If that were the path chosen, the author, in order to enjoy the religious freedom she desires, would have to come home to Israel: something she obviously does not want to do at all.

    I have no problem with countries squeezing Jews out of exile – but she does….

  • http://TheCircuitRider Jerry

    I firmly believe that Mike Huckabee is the only candidate in the field that is qualified on moral grounds to be President. I intend to vote for him in our upcoming state primary. Unlike some of the aforementioned opinions I’ve read, I do believe he has an excellent chance to win the Republican nomination for President. If not, then I believe he will be on the ticket as the VP candidate. Regardless of my opinions, the outcome of the election has already been determined and is in the hands of the sovereign God of the universe who has revealed Himself in the presence of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Now I recognize that this isn’t politically correct, but that I’ve never sought to ever be politically correct anyway.

  • Clavos

    “Now if you consider placing initiatives on the ballot and letting people vote on them mob rule…”

    Yep.

    That about sums it up, Arch.

    Remember?

    We’re a representational Republic, not a “democracy?”

    You do know what “tyranny of the majority” means, don’t you?

  • Arch Conservative

    Would you prefer tyranny by the minority where a small but vocal minority gets to dictate what culturla norms will be against the will of the majority of society where no ones rights have in fact been taken away/

  • SteveS

    As of writing this post every single American has the right to enter into marriage as currently defined by the law.

    It’s funny, I was a blogcritics member in 2003 and 2004 and gay marriage was the hot topic that drove conservatives nuts. 4 years later and while the rest of the country has moved on….

    Every single American does not have the right to enter into marriage with another consenting adult of their choosing. Only heterosexuals currently have that right.

  • bliffle

    “I firmly believe that Mike Huckabee is the only candidate in the field that is qualified on moral grounds to be President.”

    There’s no moral requirement for president in the constitution. And for good reason: no one would qualify.

  • Jim in Texas

    It’s amazing to me that people who enjoy all the benefits of a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles want to bash the only candidate, Mike Huckabee, because of his “religious beliefs”. By omission, doesn’t it suggest that the others, Democrat & Replubican, in varying degrees, are immersed in a principle contrary to our country’s heritage and laws? Remember, the religious beliefs of people like Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, Iddi Amin, Adolf Hitler set the stage for their country’s people, to those people’s regret

  • Clavos

    “Would you prefer tyranny by the minority where a small but vocal minority gets to dictate what culturla norms will be against the will of the majority of society where no ones rights have in fact been taken away/”

    No.

    As you say, in the case of gay marriage, no one’s rights have been taken away, (because they’ve never had it yet). However,the right to be married IS being denied them.

    Back in 1964, the majority, particularly here in the south, didn’t want the African Americans to have equal rights, either.

    But it happened anyway. Why? Because equality is our most precious and honorable principle; it’s in the Declaration of Independence and all citizen’s rights are guaranteed by the Constitution (Amendment XIV), whether the majority likes that or not.

    But you know that. It’s been discussed to death, here and everywhere.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    You do remember, don’t you?

  • Arch Conservative

    However,the right to be married IS being denied them.

    No it is not.

    They are free to marry anyone of the opposite sex of their choosing. That is their right.

  • Clavos

    Never mind, Arch.

    You just don’t get it and never will.

    And you won’t; not until the Thought Police come charging into your home one day to take your copy of the constitution away from you…

  • SteveS

    So conservatives don’t care if marriage and family is built on love. No wonder their children turn out so messed up.

  • Lee Richards

    #17:
    Jim:
    Exactly which branch of Judaism and which brand of Christianity is our country founded on? There are differences, aren’t there, in Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Judaism? And variances in the teachings and beliefs of Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormans, and on and on.
    For that matter, don’t the principles and teachings of Judaism and Christianity clash and conflict with each other?

    Who, when, where and how was it decided that this country would be founded on J/C principles? What year, what meeting, what documents, by whom?

    Did the Founders intend for this to be a Christian country, or a free country? How can our nation endorse and espouse a single religion, claim to be founded on it (and its root) and, at the same time, be free of favoritism and intolerence? Are you saying that’s what the Founders planned and desired? And just what is the “right” kind of Christianity that our country was founded on? Who decided which laws to include and which to leave out, for religious reasons?

    Was it “Christian principles” when the Puritans persecuted the Quakers here? How about when witches were hung in Salem for blasphemy, or Baptist preachers were arrested in Virginia by Episcopalian authorities? Who decided the orthodox “principles” you claim we’re founded on?

    Our country’s principles depend on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, both of which show clearly that we weren’t designed as a Judeo-Christian government or nation, but as a free country where government can’t compel or influence us to hold any religious belief of any kind. (You evidently think the Founders did intend for our government, if they based it on religious principles, to have that influence. Do you have any evidence that was their aim?)

    Your Judeo-Christian principles require that eveyone must recognize and submit themselves to a particular concept of a God. Our country has never, ever been guided by such a “principle”. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

    Do you honestly believe a country based on Judeo-Christian principles and beliefs, dogmas and doctrines would have provided the religious freedom that is one of our greatest historical achivements? Not bloody likely!

  • Clavos

    “So conservatives don’t care if marriage and family is built on love”

    Use a smaller brush there, Steve. I’m a Conservative.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Amen, Barbara. If ever there was a man for whom the phrase “silver-tongued” fit like a glove, it is Mike Huckabee.

    And, despite his religious beliefs, he’s also very smart.

    Good article.

    Thanks, Clavos.
    He’s not only smart, his funny, he’s charming, he plays electric bass, he’s got dimples and a seemingly self-effacing style. And, despite what some people might think, he can win. My 21 year old daughter (who is a very smart and involved young adult) was watching him on television with me over winter break and said (without knowing who he really is) he seems pretty cool. ” I like him.”

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    If that were the path chosen, the author, in order to enjoy the religious freedom she desires, would have to come home to Israel: something she obviously does not want to do at all.

    shavua tov, Ruvy. Problem with Israel for me right now is that I, as a female, conservative (Masorti) woman, would not have the religious freedom I desire. The religious life of the country where a Masorti conversion isn’t by many of the ruling class of religious authorities valid; where the Orthodox leadership says publicly that passing a Masorti or Reform synagogue is sinful, is NOT a place where I experience religious freedom.

  • Mary Dagmar Davies

    Brilliant. This article should be picked up by mainstream media.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Thanks for your kind words, Mary.

    Jim in Texas said: It’s amazing to me that people who enjoy all the benefits of a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles want to bash the only candidate, Mike Huckabee, because of his “religious beliefs”. By omission, doesn’t it suggest that the others, Democrat & Republican, in varying degrees, are immersed in a principle contrary to our country’s heritage and laws? Remember, the religious beliefs of people like Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, Iddi Amin, Adolf Hitler set the stage for their country’s people, to those people’s regret

    My problem with Huckabee is not that he has religious beliefs, nor that he lives his life by them. My problem is that he seeks to incorporate them (his religious beliefs) into governance. Rather than guiding his conscience on policy, he seeks to impose his religious beliefs on everyone else. That is one thing when you are a televangelist or a minister, and quite another when you are president of the United States.

  • Bennett

    Excellent! Thanks for this Barbara!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Barbara,

    Shavua Tov,

    When we first came to this country, we attended a Masorti synagogue, as we had been conservative Jews in the States. The synagogue we attended was just as cliquish, snobbish and stuck-up as the synagogue we had attended in the Twin Cities. But it was rich, filled with people who have money and influence.

    Finally, because my wife could not handle Hebrew, and felt under pressure in that synagogue, and because I got sick of the cliquishness and snobbishness of the “congregation” we started going to an “orthodox” one.

    But that is our own choice.

    The truth of the matter is that in spite of the fulminations of the “orthodox” religious establishment in the country, the well-moneyed Masorti synagogues do just fine here – precisely because they are well-moneyed. That is all that matters in Israel. It’s a shame that all that matters is money, but it is the brutal truth, a truth I like far less than your realize.

    So, in spite of what you think in the States, you would enjoy greater religious freedom here than you do there, and the “orthodox” rabbis here would seem no different than “Christian values politicians” there. By and large, the media and the government would be on your side.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Bennett–Thanks. Of course now we know that McCain has won South Carolina. But much of the reason for that (IMHO) is that Thompson shaved off votes from Huckabee.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I don’t entirely buy this theory that Thompson draws votes mostly from Huckabee. About the only thing they have in common is both being from the south. On issues McCain and Thompson are much closer to each other.

    Dave

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    I guess we won’t know for certain unless Thompson drops out of the race (if he does before too long). Polls seem to be useless.