Faith, Abortion, and Mike Huckabee
Sunday, on "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee presented himself as the "paradoxical Republican" candidate for the 2008 Presidential nomination. (Watch the video here.) He enjoys music (even plays in a rock band) and believes in taxes to support social services (such as building roads). Yet he is also pro-life and otherwise a social conservative. He comes across very well -- sounds moderate, reasonable and pleasant, but -- for those of us who believe in a secular system of government -- he is dangerous. He said two things that, alone and together, might be cause for alarm.
The first comment was about Mitt Romney, a rival Republican presidential candidate and a Mormon. Stephanopoulos pointed out that as a Baptist minister, Huckabee might view a Mormon as belonging to a "cult." Huckabee did not dispute this suggestion but responded that he is far less disturbed by a candidate of a different faith (i.e., not a Baptist) than by a candidate who claims that his faith will not influence the decisions he makes as a public official. Why does this disturb him? Because it would mean that the candidate's faith is not very important to him. Better, in other words, to be strongly committed to a false magical belief in a deity who demands unquestioning obedience than to be only weakly committed to such a false belief (or, heaven help us, to be an agnostic or an atheist). Being pro-life, explained Huckabee later, is not a political position but one that properly arises from his faith.
The second interesting comment was Huckabee's assertion that his pro-life perspective is more consistent with American values than Rudolph Giuliani's expressed pro-choice approach. How so? It is Islamic fascists, said Huckabee, who celebrate the deaths of their children when the latter strap explosives onto themselves to carry out suicide bombings against the infidels. Americans, by contrast, value their children and believe that their lives are sacred and should not be sacrificed. Though quite subtle, the implication is that people (including Giuliani, so far) who believe that women should not be compelled by the criminal law to remain pregnant against their will are very much like the parents of suicide bombers who believe that their children should volunteer themselves as ammunition against civilian targets of the wrong faith. If you believe either that a zygote is morally distinct from a baby or that women should not regularly be conscripted into a physiologically intimate altruism, then it follows that you don't care about children. Though this suggestion should need little in the way of rebuttal, I would point out in passing that the Islamic fascists who celebrate their children's deaths as martyrs -- the group to whom he compares pro-choice Americans -- nicely fit the bill for Huckabee's more trustworthy candidate for office here in the United States: they openly acknowledge that their religious faith plays an important role in their decision-making process.