The Bible and Mr. Huckabee
In case you missed it, the city of Houston, under the guidance of mayor Annise Parker, created a little noise when they subpoenaed several churches for all sermons and other documents (including correspondences between staff and church members) back in October in relation to a lawsuit filed against the city concerning a petition to roll-back certain overly-broad anti-discrimination measures put in place by Houston earlier in the year. Other minds have already addressed this issue and it’s successive kerfuffle, including the Stand with Houston rally, the narrowing of the subpoena by the city, and their eventual dropping of the matter, but suffice to say that the episode ruffled some feathers and raised some eyebrows both in expected quarters (aka, Fox News, the conservative right, etc.) and unexpected ones (the Texas chapter of the ACLU, among others).
The responses from the more right-leaning sections of society were about as expected. Fox News was all over it. Groups such as the American Family Association, the Heritage Foundation, and the Alliance Defending Freedom were all adamant in their condemning of the move by Houston and Mayor Parker. Republican leaders used it as an opportunity to stump for themselves, their issues, and their party and ideology in general. Rush was incensed, Hannity was furious, and Todd Starnes, per the norm, was outraged.
In other news, a dog opened his mouth, and a bark came out.
The most curious of responses, however, and one that is perhaps the most unfortunate and inappropriate was that of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee was a dark-horse Republican presidential candidate back on ’08 who made quite the splash in the primaries. He has gone on to have a Fox News TV show and a radio broadcast called the Huckabee Report in which he has cast himself as a kind of politically-minded Paul Harvey character. As part of his response to the Houston debacle, Huckabee used his television broadcast to advocate that his viewers mail “thousands and thousands” of sermons and Bibles to Mayor Parker’s office. You can see the clip below:
Huckabee went so far as to post the address on his website, so his supporters could have ready access to as they prepared their flat-rate boxes for transit.
For a man who spent several years standing behind pulpits delivering messages from the Word of God to congregations, this stunt seems to indicate a lack of respect for that same collection of holy writings. Such a crass use of the Bible is below someone who purports to be a leader of Christian beliefs, let alone one who is also an ordained minister.
Huckabee should know better. Any person who calls themselves a Christian should know better. The Word of God is not your political statement, nor is it your bully stick. It doesn’t belong in a pre-paid box stacked along the baseboards of whatever staff-member or intern had the unfortunate job of filtering them out of Mayor Parker’s mail. That kind of action doesn’t make the kind of difference that’s worthwhile. Brow-beating people rarely does.
When a person goes to the store, picks-out and purchases a Bible for the purpose of placing in a box and mailing it to the office of an elected official in an effort to make a political statement, they are showing a lack of respect both for the book and for the person. To do so is to employ the Word of God as nothing more and nothing less than blunt force of a bully’s fist. It sends a message, certainly, but not a very Christ-like message. It doesn’t convey love for the person, respect for the Bible, or even a sense of healthy, intelligent disagreement. The essential message is, “I’m not intelligent enough to put into complete sentences why I disagree with you, so I’m mailing you this instead. Read it and change or burn in hell.”
When God instructs you to love your enemies, it seems like bad form to use those instructions like a club to bludgeon your enemies in a partisan brawl.
 Disclaimer: I like Mike Huckabee. Opinions about him vary across the board and I don’t agree with him on all things, but I’ve met a couple of times, he knew my family (my dad was an editorial cartoonist in AR during Huckabee’s tenure and my mom met him back during his youth minister days), and I liked him. Still do. I'm disappointed, in large part, because I expect more from him.