Huckabee Calls for Constitution to Be Amend to Conform to the Word of God

In the escalation of faith-based pitches by both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee has thrown down a new challenge: amending the Constitution to conform to the word of God. In a recent statement, Huckabee stated: “[Some of my opponents] 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, is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards, rather than try to change God’s standards.” What is most remarkable is how little remarkable this statement proved to be with mainstream media.

As stated in a recent column, the candidates are talking so much about faith that one would think they wanted to be in the College of Cardinals rather than the Hall of Presidents. Obama, Clinton, Huckabee, Romney, and others are struggling to close the God-gap with their opponents by voicing ever-increasing demands for faith-based politics.

Huckabee was recently quoted from a prior sermon in a call to “take back this nation for Christ.” See here Now, it appears that this may have been more literal than first assumed.

It does appear a rather curious way for Huckabee to appeal beyond his narrow band of evangelicals. Amending the Constitution for Christ is a cause better suited for a preacher than a president. It also reaffirms a stereotype of evangelicals as obsessed with compelling others to accept their moral values. For decades, pro-life advocates have insisted that abortion should be a state by state decision. Yet, now Huckabee would try to force his moral views on the majority of states with a pro-choice view by amending the Constitution. It is a very unsettling vision. Of course, Huckabee clearly rejects the individual privacy values that support the right to choose. Yet, even some pro-life advocates should be concerned with this statement. For those who have made the plausible argument that abortion should be in greater part a state issue, Huckabee is calling for a different form of federal control over the question. While the states would have to vote to amend the Constitution, such an amendment would deprive future states of the right to reach their own conclusions as to the protection of the right to choose.Our Constitution is designed to create a system by which we can come to answers rather than supply the answer themselves. It allows for views and values to evolve while giving the majority the ability to live by the laws that the consider fair and right. It also protects those minorities who hold different moral views.

I long to meet an evangelical who believes it secular government and the separation of church and faith. I know that there must be such people of faith who also value secular government. Yet, the religious right continually argues that the true path of faith must lead through government and forcing a nation to conform to a particular sectarian view. It is a model that is all too familiar to the world as we watch fanatics in Iran, Pakistan, and other countries use government as a vehicle of faith.More than anyone else, George W. Bush can be credited with making faith-based appeals not just a mantra but an agenda for modern candidates. When asked during the 2000 primary to name his favorite political philosopher, Bush immediately declared, “Christ, because he changed my heart.” While perhaps a bit confused by Jesus’ emergence as a political philosopher rather than religious figure, other candidates sheepishly followed suit. Ironically, it was strikingly similar to the faith-based campaigning by another national leader: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. For some reason, it seems more threatening when it is someone else’s God who is guiding the head of a nation.

Huckabee’s call for a Christian Constitution should have been met with a chorus of objections from evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike. After all, we have all benefited from the most stable and successful democratic system in the history of the world. That stability did not come from compelled values but from a tradition of tolerance in a pluralistic nation. We have long assumed that each family and each religion can reinforce their faith without government assistance. By separating church and state, we guarantee that each such family is allowed to make moral choices according to their own faith structure.If one takes Huckabee’s statement on its face value, it seems to suggest a system like Henry Ford’s promise that customers can have any color car so long as it is black. Under the newly amended Constitution, citizens can hold any moral view so long as it is right.

16 thoughts on “Huckabee Calls for Constitution to Be Amend to Conform to the Word of God”

  1. Ah, my former professor longs to meet an evangelical who believes in separation of church and faith–well, I’m one of many such people, and we’ve already met, way back when I was your student and before I became a flaming evangelical. One’s underlying system of Bible interpretation strongly influences which way a Christian will fall on this issue–those adhering to dispensationalism tend to be more literal (therefore separation of church/faith) than those adhering to a form of covenant theology/supercessionism.

    My old church has most of its sermons online in full, in order by book (Gen 1:1, 1:2, etc), so I invite you to leave the dark side and listen for yourself how this topic is dealt with when it naturally arises in classic government verses like Romans 13. Go to Lakeside Chapel dot com, click up top on Sermons then New Testament then Romans, scroll down to #5467, and you can hear the pastor say: “I believe a lot of ministries have prostituted the calling of teaching the Word of God to try to change the government and make it a Christian nation, and I might add that nations are not Christians, only people are…we try to change this and make it a Christian nation and yet the Bible doesn’t call us to do that…the Church’s calling is not to change society, it’s to change the inside of people…” etc. Also, megapastor and author John MacArthur recently blogged on this topic on sfpulpit dot com on January 11.

    We’re all over the place, and Huckabee’s being way misunderstood and misrepresented here.

  2. I agree, Huckabee would impose his particular sectarian beliefs on the rest of us if he were ever elected. And IMO, Mitt Romney is not much of an improvement, if any. I believe in one of his recent speeches, he said three words, “freedom requires religion,” which gave me cold chills. I’m not sure which program I heard that on, but when I did, I thought, “WHOSE freedom requires religion? Not mine!” Even presidential candidates don’t get to decide our spiritual beliefs for us. Obviously, Gov. Romney hasn’t figured that out any more than Huckabee has. I won’t be voting for him either, or anyone else in the Republican party.

    It is such a shame that anyone who is honest about their more secular beliefs and is completely honest about it doesn’t stand a chance for running for high political office. Although there is supposed to be NO religious test to run for a key government position, the reality is quite different, which I think is a shame.

  3. Susan,

    Good points. What version of God’s word would he enshrine??

    The year is 1788 and in Boston, Massachussetts the learned Theophilus Parson addresses the convention that has gathered to ratify the proposed Constitution of the new nation. At issue is the absence of a religious test for office holders. Mr Parson:

    “It has been objected that the Constitution provides no religious test by oath, and we may have in power unprincipled men, atheists and pagans. No man can wish more ardently than I do that all our public offices may be filled by men who fear God and hate wickedness; but it must remain with the electors to give the government this security. An oath will not do it. Will an unprincipled man be entangled by an oath? Will an atheist or a pagan dread the vengeance of the Christian’s God, a being, in his opinion, the creature of fancy and credulity? It is a solecism in expression. No man is so illiberal as to wish the confining places of honor or profit to any one sect of Christians; but what security is it to government, that every public officer shall swear that he is a Christian? For what will then be called Christianity? One man will declare that the Christian religion is only an illumination of natural religion, and that he is a Christian; another Christian will assert that all men must be happy hereafter in spite of themselves; a third Christian reverses the image, and declares that, let a man do all he can, he will certainly be punished in another world; and a fourth will tell us that, if a man use any force for the common defence, he violates every principle of Christianity. Sir, the only evidence we can have of the sincerity of a man’s religion is a good life; and I trust that such evidence will be required of every candidate by every elector. That man who acts an honest part to his neighbor,, will, most probably, conduct honorably towards the public.”

    So the spirit of this objection applies now to Mike’s desire to bring our Constitutional law into alignment with the “eternal God”.

    There is no trans-sectarian agreement of the nature of God or the teachings of the same. Even the Trinitarian conception is still disputed. Huckabee would merely impose his sect’s belief on all of us.

    This upshot was clear to the Framer’s generation and it should be equally evident to us.

  4. I couldn’t believe it either when Huckabee made that comment about “a constitution according to God’s standards,” I think that was the correct phrase. But I guess we should be grateful. As one poster here already said, “a theocracy is what they are after.” At least Huckabee was honest about it.

    However, he should bear in mind that if he wanted to preach “the word of God,” he shouldn’t have left that position. It is NOT for a presidential candidate to dictate that a our Constitution, which was always intended as a secular document, should be revised as a religious document. What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the exercise thereof…” does he NOT understand? I have no intention of voting for any candidate who says we should mix religion with government. That’s what the founders of this nation wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights to PREVENT.

  5. As to whether the Constitution is a living document, amenable to change with evolving standards, Jefferson has these general observations re adaptability (not specifically to the US Constitution) in the same letter to Kercheval:

    “But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood. Their monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs.”

    One just has to laugh at the originalists and strict constructionists… The Warren Court was correct. It was correct all along, and hopefully someday we will climb back up to that high plateau of jurisprudence.

  6. commoner,

    There is an interesting quote from Thomas Jefferson that bears on the tendency to deify the Framers and those schools of constitutional interpretation that would have us adhere tightly to how the Framers understood the document…

    From an 1816 letter to Samuel Kercheval, here’s Thomas Jefferson:

    “Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves were they to rise from the dead.”

  7. Disturbing .

    Please stop by my blog for my opinions on faith and justice.

    Huckabee needs to read the constitution.

    I have faith in our constitution.


    Paul supporter

  8. “Founders” yet not “Framers”;
    Perhaps “Farmers”?
    Of course, no “Fathers” for some time.

  9. I heard the speech as well when Olberman replayed it on his show.

    “Troubling” is the best adjective for it.

    Currently, a large war-chest of money seems to be the threshold requirement for becoming President in this country.

    Perhaps, a knowledge of the Constitution should be added to that requirement.

    Mike should read not only the Constitution but also the debates in the various state’s ratifications of it. I think he would be very surprised as to how sophisticated and prescient were the “Founders” generation’s views on the advisability of separation of church and state. They were well aware of the sentiment that a State was made more “godly” by specific allegiances to Deity and that there was a push in that direction. And they rejected both the sentiment and the push for entanglement.

  10. I was looking around to see if anyone new is talking about this, and in fact, it’s still mainly blogs like this one. Mr. Turley is right, “What is most remarkable is how little remarkable this statement proved to be with mainstream media.”
    At the Secular Coalition, our take is this: Thanks, Gov. Huckabee, for saying out loud what we always knew about the religious right; nothing short of a theocracy is what they’re after.

  11. Huckabee portrays himself as a throwback to earlier times. He should remember the Founders dedication to a free nation unencumbered by any one religion.

  12. I, for one hope he wins the nomination. Then we can club him with this for months leading up to the general election. We must have a democrat as the next president, if just for the reason that it is estimated that at least two Supreme Court Justices will retire in the next 8 years.

  13. There oughta be a law!

    My hope is the lack of outrage is because the idea is so preposterous that it is beyond outrage. The fact that our country has committed torture is outrageous. Huckabee’s statement is simply loony. That is my hope. My fear is that perhaps so many are deluded about the role of religion in this nation’s life, they don’t see it as lunacy.

  14. That’s a good question. It was a remarkably ill-considered decision. It could not be worse for creating a broader constituency. He continues to primarily appeal to evangelicals, which is only one-third of the Reagan coalition. Of course, if he was really running for a vice-presidential slot, with someone like McCain, this could be a better strategy. However, he is clearly trying to win — in the worst possible way.

  15. I actually saw hime say some of these things, and I was stunned. I didn’t move. My jaw was on the ground. It was surreal. Who in their right mind would ever say something like this, if they are truly interested in winning a general election. It just doesn’t make sense. But, what else explains it?

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