Faith 2016 Politics

5 faith facts about Mike Huckabee: Southern Baptist pastor-turned-politician

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, shown here in August 2014, warned Iowa evangelicals in April that Christianity was being "criminalized." Photo by Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks Photo taken: Aug. 22, 2014
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, shown here in September, warned Iowa evangelicals on Saturday (April 26) that Christianity was being 'criminalized.' Photo by Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, shown here in August 2014, warned Iowa evangelicals in April that Christianity was being “criminalized.” Photo by Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

UPDATE: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suspended his campaign Feb. 1, after the Iowa Caucus.

WASHINGTON (RNS) Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is no stranger to the pulpit — or politics. The former Fox News Channel host announced Tuesday (May 5) his bid for the GOP nomination for the White House. Here are five facts about this Southern Baptist’s perspectives on faith.


READWhat do 2016 election contenders believe? Check the RNS ‘5 faith facts’ series


1. Before he was a politician, he was a pastor.

Huckabee was a pastor who preached for 12 years in Arkansas pulpits before he became a governor and, later, a 2008 candidate for president. While he was governor (1996-2007), he maintained his pastoral instincts, sometimes contacting members of his Southern Baptist church when he learned of a death in their families.

“I think it’s the greatest preparation that a person can have for public service,” he told RNS in a 2007 interview. “Somebody says they want to talk about the issue of the elderly, I’ve dealt with those folks. I’ve dealt with a 14-year-old girl who’s pregnant and hasn’t told her parents yet. I’ve talked to the young couple who’s head over heels in debt. … I think it gives you a real perspective about people and what they’re going through that’s important.”

If elected, he would be the first minister elected to the Oval Office (although James Garfield was a lay minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Jimmy Carter is a well-known Baptist Sunday school teacher).


READ: Mike Huckabee has one unique line on his resume: pastor


2. He led Baptists statewide, not just in the pew.

While he was pastor of Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Ark., from 1986 to 1992, Huckabee, now 59, was the youngest president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, a job that helped prompt him to think about switching from pastoring to politics. Pastor David Uth, the leader of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., told RNS that in that post, Huckabee worked to calm differences between moderate and conservative Baptists in his home state.

3. He is a favorite of evangelicals and he claims them, too.

“There are a lot of people running for president,” he told the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Values Voter Presidential Debate, whose 2007 participants gave him a 63 percent win in its straw poll. “Many of them will come to you. I come from you.” Christian publisher Steve Strang urged 1,000 readers of his magazines — Charisma and New Man — to give $1,000 each to Huckabee’s 2008 campaign. He won the 2008 Iowa caucuses — about 60 percent of Iowa GOP caucus-goers are evangelicals — but dropped out when he was overtaken by Sen. John McCain.

4. He is a fierce defender of traditional marriage — and Kim Davis.

Huckabee was at the side of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis when she was released from jail in September after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And he told the crowd waiting for her that he was willing to take her place.

“Let Kim go but if you have to put someone in jail I volunteer to go,” he said. “Let me go. Lock me up if you think that’s how freedom is best served. Because, folks, I am willing to spend the next eight years in the White House leading this country. But I want you to know I’m willing to spend the next eight years in jail. But I’m not willing to spend one day under the tyranny of people who believe they can take our freedom and conscience away.” 

5. As a political leader, he says he respects people of all faiths and no faith.

“It was never my desire to use my position to push a particular religious doctrine through the official channels of government. Spiritual convictions should certainly be reflected in one’s worldview, approaches to problems, and perspective,” he wrote in his 2008 book, “Do the Right Thing.” “An atheist who believes that we are on our own and that our only true God is the natural world might be more protective of bugs, plants, and animals than one who believes that God created all these things for us to manage, care for, and even use in a responsible manner.”

KRE/MG END BANKS

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

40 Comments

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  • A false, anti-Christian bigot who smears Jesus with his all-too-human hatreds, yet will no doubt be popular with the paranoid lunatic fringe which lurks these threads.

  • Pan, many things prevent me from supporting Huckabee, but the linked article you posted is a classic smear job through “guilt-by-association-two-steps-removed.”

    Because Huckabee likes David Barton, and because David Barton allowed a Christian Reconstructionist post, that means Huckabee endorses Christian Reconstructionism? Please.

    A precocious 12-year-old could debunk such silliness. I like much of what Barton has written (though I have found errors, too), but I oppose Reconstructionism and Rushdooney. But based on the logic of the article, because I read Barton who posted the Reconstructionist piece, that somehow makes me a Reconstructionist.

    The other outrageous part was saying that Rod Martin endorses some of the things detailed. While my theology differs from his, I have met him several times and found him to be a progressive, not a reactionary, force — more Jack Kemp & Paul Ryan and less Rand Paul.

  • Its a pretty bad association to have. David Barton is an anathema to those who value democracy and religious freedom. Saying Huckabee likes Barton doesn’t bode well for Huckabee.

  • So let’s see….Mike Huckabee should not be president because…….he has a close family member who seems like a real jerk…..

    This is childish.

    Sorry, but I prefer to judge people as individuals,….I decided long ago that I don’t want Huckabee, but that’s based on his record as a politician, not some sleazy smear job by a hate blog.

  • He and his whole family are guilty of the sins of gluttony. Sins, because one sin of gluttony just doesn’t cover the man.

    He is a reviler and a slanderer as well in the classic Corinthians sense.

    He is a pleasant enough man, when I’ve seen him interviewed on Jon Stewart. but the last time Stewart interviewed him, he was so off the wall, so hypocritical, so obtuse, that even a legendary courteous man like Jon could barely contain his outrage.

    My conclusion: huckabee is just a regular grifter. As evidenced by the CPAC straw poll, he has no support whatsoever. But that won’t stop him, because grifters gotta grift.

  • Larry, that’s silly. There’s nothing uniquely wrong about Barton. He’s the right-wing equivalent of lefty historians…..He gets some things right and some things wrong. Reading him or his counterparts on the left neither qualifies nor disqualifies someone from office.

    I’m thinking of a well-known historian on the far left whose name escapes me. Reading such a person is no more or less of a sin than reading Barton.

  • I don’t how to respond to that, Ben. I probably eat more than Huckabee or anyone else in his family but I have always been active and have a very fast metabolism so I’m the same weight as when I graduated college. I’ve never had a problem in that arena and so I wouldn’t throw stones at anyone on that issue.

    It also may be a cultural thing. Southerners tend to be heftier than the rest of us. I stay away from fried foods; they don’t.

    On the other hand, I’ve found very few southerners I don’t like as people.

  • Of course there is. The guy outright lies about history in order to claim the 1st Amendment religious freedoms don’t really exist. That the government must favor Christians of a conservative sect at the expense of others. He has lobbied against the free exercise of religion of other faiths and tries to undermine education about the establishment clause. His pernicious dishonesty is so widespread that many people quote his nonsense without realizing it.

    He is not the equivalent of “lefty historians” because he is not even a qualified historian and has been known to fabricate his support. Even those “lefties” you decry are usually qualified academics. They usually go through an academic review process and get called out for making crap up. Barton simply repeats it and ignores the criticism. Like all well connected frauds with a religious backing.

    “I’m thinking of a well-known historian on the far left whose name escapes me.”
    David Irving. You don’t know what “far…

  • I now recall it was Howard Zinn and I’ll bet he’s an icon of yours. Barton is no worse or better than Zinn in terms of accuracy and some would argue that Zinn is far worse.

    Let’s put it this way: If I want to read books and articles that point to the greatness of America, Barton has a lot to say….if I want those that point to the seamy side of America, including its mistreatment of others, Zinn says plenty. I would disqualify neither of them as people worth reading, but I would take each with a grain of salt.

    But to judge a person based on their reading of either Barton or Zinn is either naïve or mendacious.

  • How is it “fun” to learn that someone’s close relative seems to have tortured a dog?

    It’s only “fun” if you hate people you disagree with politically, judging their character on the fact that they dare to disagree with you politically, and think it’s really cool to throw mud in their face by dragging their families into the picture.

  • Jack,

    I don’t wish to speak for Ben on the use of the word gluttony in his comment, but I got the sense that he was referring to a lack of self-control—overeating in his choices-wants-desires. He overeats in his religious beliefs, perhaps? wanting the podium on both politics and preaching? maybe he is gluttonous in his desire for the spotlight? to be heard on the issues–again and again … When it may be the turn of another?

    Simply, gluttony in the spiritual is understood as overreaching … feeding too heavily in certain areas … wanting more than your share … dipping into places in a prideful way, over parenting … being overzealous-wanting too much of one thing resulting in an imbalance (see spiritual greediness—The Way of a Pilgrim). It may be time for him to step aside and allow the voices of others to be heard. Maybe he should focus now on his inner being that he might enter that place of restitution (restoration) with a move toward a purified conscience.

  • Birds of a feather flock together. If it’s fair game to label Obama an America-hating Communist Fifth Columnist because he once breathed the same air as Bill Ayers or whatever, then I’m not sure why this isn’t fair game.

    Of course, I don’t really consider there to be a significant difference between conservative Christianity and Reconstructionism in the first place. To an outsider, it’s like jam vs compote or valencia vs navel. The enthusiast sweats the distinctions, sure, but why should the rest of us distinguish between the different groups of people who want us to obey the Bible?

    As to whether Rod Martin endorses the things he endorses, he either does or doesn’t. The fact that you have met him does not, in my view, disprove. anything. Most of the citations in the relevant articles and posts now lead to dead pages (why were all these pieces scrubbed?). So, we can either believe what people said about his associations at the time, or not.

  • He lacks information of what God’s kingdom or heavenly government will soon accomplish for all mankind (Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 11:1-9), so he does not have my support at all.

  • Wrong Jack.

    Nobody ever accused Zinn of fabricating support for his work. Zinn is also an academically credentialed historian. Barton is an amateur with a loud mouth.

    Zinn’s critics accuse him of skewing interpretations towards a given political POV. Barton’s critics have demonstrated the guy flat out lies in order to make his point. David Barton’s lies were so obvious that he was dropped by one of his publishers over it. There is a vast gulf between claiming one’s interpretations of facts are screwy (Zinn) and claiming one is making stuff up (Barton).

    Given how much is out there detailing David Barton’s fabrications, to say one is a fan of him speaks very badly of their character. It means one is willing to accept and spread lies in order to push a theocratic agenda.

    *my taste in history skews towards modern military history. Max Hastings, Anthony Beevor and Byron Farwell being personal fave authors.

  • As evidenced by the CPAC straw poll, he has no support whatsoever. But that won’t stop him, because grifters gotta grift.

    With little money, he won 20% of the ballots during the 2008 nomination donnybrook, but the ‘real’ contest is the CPAC straw poll (which has gone to Ron Paul multiple times, who will win the Republican presidential nomination just after he wins the presidency of the B’nai B’rith). Got i t.

  • Larry, don’t look now, but your ideological slip is showing. You’re really stretching things by trying to make an ultimate distinction between the two. You are predictably giving Zinn a pass because you’re in a similar ideological camp as he is.

    The big picture again is that judging someone’s character based on whether they read Barton is just as wrongheaded as doing likewise with someone else who reads Zinn.

    In both cases, it’s caveat emptor for any readers…..or eat the meat and spit out the bones.

    Trying to marginalize people based on their reading either writer is a reprehensible tactic.

  • Pan, the issue is guilt by association, two or three steps removed. That was my objection.

    As for Christian Reconstructionism, it teaches that Old Testament law should be applied fully to modern America. That contradicts the bedrock Christian contention that we are under grace, not law. The idea that Old Testament law as a single unit is completely for today is heresy for every Christian denomination. Reasonable people can and do disagree as to whether it’s still for the Jewish people, but even within Jewry, none but the Orthodox claim it is….and even they are not seriously advocating its civil law components for America.

    As for Rod Martin, I know his views pretty well. He is a constitutional conservative, which puts him at odds with full-blown Reconstructionism. The idea that he countenances slavery is preposterous. He’s a big human rights guy and a futurist, not a reactionary.

  • Stop digging that hole. You are supporting an obvious lying sack of crap through ad hominem and diversion.

    I am giving Zinn a “pass” because he is not a liar. Barton not only is a liar he is spectacularly bad at it and constantly called out on his fictions. I am not a fan or reader of Zinn. You just made that statement because you are lazy and madly in love with ad hominem.

    There is a vast vast difference between being a qualified academic who is a bit of a crackpot and being an amateur who makes crap up to support their views.

    NOT EVEN ZIMM’S HARSHEST CRITICS ever accused him of fabricating support of lying to support his views. Same has never been said of Barton.

    As usual, you make blanket, unfounded assumptions of one who disagrees with you and don’t bother to read what is said in response. I am not wasting more time with you on this.

  • Stop digging that hole. You are supporting an obvious lying sack of crap through ad hominem and diversion.

    I am giving Zinn a “pass” because he is not a liar. Barton not only is a liar he is spectacularly bad at it and constantly called out on his fictions. I am not a fan or reader of Zinn. You just made that statement because you are lazy and madly in love with ad hominem.

    There is a vast vast difference between being a qualified academic who is a bit of a crackpot and being an amateur who makes crap up to support their views.

    NOT EVEN ZIMM’S HARSHEST CRITICS ever accused him of fabricating support of lying to support his views. Same has never been said of Barton.

    As usual, you make blanket, unfounded assumptions of one who disagrees with you and don’t bother to read what is said in response. I am not wasting more time with you on this.

  • Fran you are only one sixth circumcised as of the last Ceremony and so you are not permitted to vote or to make political comment.

    Jehovah is not pleased. You will be excommunicated. The Grand Council has spoken.

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