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I don't often blog on electoral politics, here or in other venues. Or on theology. So it's odd that I should find myself discussing a topic that some might consider at the intersection of each.
But this tidbit uncovered by Think Progress is just too incredible not to pass on:
Shortly before a triple execution in Arkansas in Jan. 1997, a caller called into Huckabee's show on Arkansas Educational Television Network and asking how he squared his Christian teachings with his support for the death penalty. As the Arkansas Times reported on Jan. 22, 1997:
"Interestingly enough," Huckabee allowed, "if there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, `This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency'."
Jesus, though, did not ask for clemency. Therefore, according to Huckabee's logic, Jesus must have been in favor of capital punishment.
Does this not strike anyone else as intrinsically disturbing?
I recognize that Huckabee has the whole 'happy warrior' thing down pat, the whole "you might think I'm crazy, but wouldn't I make a great neighbor" vibe and all that, but this is appalling, and demonstrative of a lot of the pitfalls involved when anyone, left or right, invokes the divine as a case for public policy.
On the small level, it's appalling for a Governor to say to those about-to-be-executed, "Well, Jesus had his chance to speak for you on the cross." More broadly, it speaks to a conundrum I've often found in the invocation of religion in policy. Want to present the pro-choice case, couched in the language of faith? Well, Jesus said nothing against abortion. Want to present the anti-choice case, couched in the language of faith? Well, Jesus said nothing defending abortion. ANY side, if nothing concrete was said in scripture, can be seen as God's side.
However, and I say this as an agnostic, it is at the theological level that I find this most maddening. Doesn't Huckabee realize what a cheapening this is of a book he believes to be the word of the creator? The idea that we should look out for legalistic statements of policy preference in scripture reduces said scripture to a legal brief in the service of a state, rather than a guide to individual salvation.