In a Family Research Council Action email sent out earlier today, FRC president Tony Perkins came out in defense of Mike Huckabee:
A Reverse Religious Test
Over the weekend I had flashbacks of the brutal judicial confirmation hearings that took place between 2003 and 2005 where certain nominees like William Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, Charles Pickering, and others were filibustered by the Democratic minority because of what Sen. Charles Schumer called their "deeply held personal beliefs." Those "beliefs" were the religious convictions that led them in part to hold a position that abortion was wrong. There was a reverse religious litmus test applied. A subtle message was being sent that a person had to choose between an active, life-impacting faith and public service. It was wrong then and it is wrong now as it is being applied to Mike Huckabee. Let me preface what I am about to say by first recalling what I wrote last week (Dec. 3, 2007) explaining why I had not endorsed a presidential candidate and at present have no plans to do so. I remain undecided and what I say below does not imply a change in those plans; however, I feel compelled to rise to the defense of Mike Huckabee.
The media had been toying with and even promoting Mike Huckabee, thinking he would go nowhere; however, after FRC Action's Values Voter Summit he began a steady rise in the polls. In my opinion it was not because he finished a close second in the straw poll to Mitt Romney, but because he came out for the first time at our event, co-hosted by Focus on the Family Action and others and spoke unabashedly and unequivocally conservative on all the core social issues. He began to compete for territory that had been ceded to Gov. Romney. That message has resonated and he has not only climbed to first place in Iowa, but nationally he is second only to Rudy Giuliani in the most current polls. There is apparently fear now among the elites that his rise could be real and not a creation of the media.
Enter the reverse religious test that is being applied. In various settings over the last few days Huckabee has been confronted with articles from nearly a decade ago containing statements on the morality of issues like HIV-AIDS, homosexuality and even the need for spiritual awakening in America. He was basically asked to recant. I am pleased to say that he did not recant.
This morning, for example, the lead story on Drudge was a 1998 article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporting on a speech that Huckabee gave at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists calling on the church to wake up following a rash of school shootings. The Drudge headline touted, "Take this nation back for Christ," a subtle but clear warning to secular elites. Columnist Richard Cohen wasn't as subtle last week when he said Huckabee is climbing in the polls because of "his obdurate and narrow-minded religious beliefs."
There is clearly a reverse religious standard being applied to Mike Huckabee, a standard that says there will be no defining religious beliefs. I would hope the other candidates, including the Democrats, would clearly and absolutely denounce this reverse religious test and keep the media from going further down this path. If not, I predict that bible-believing Christians will step over policy differences they have with Mike Huckabee to stand by and support a candidate who is being attacked because he believes, as they do, that their Christian faith should actually impact the way they live. If that happens, the recent meteoric rise of the Huckabee campaign in the polls could look minuscule compared to the tsunami of support that he will get from Christians who are tired of the elites who belittle their beliefs and attempt to rob them of every public reflection of their faith.