Mike Huckabee is even more concerned than I am. I am pretty concerned about the use of government to coerce, but I wouldn’t call it, as Huckabee did on a recent conference call with conservative pastors organized by the Family Research Council, a move towards the “criminalization of Christianity”:
Hats off to Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council. They have been on the front lines of the cultural battle, and maybe I should say, the battle for biblical truth because this is more than just a—it’s not a political issue. To those who say, ‘I don’t want to get into politics,’ well good, don’t. But this isn’t about the politics of America, this is about values that every believer should adhere to, embrace, defend, and never apologize for.
I think it’s fair to say that Christian convictions are under attack as never before. Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great Republic. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity, where it’s not simply going to be that a church’s tax exempt status is threatened, but more importantly where there will be criminal charges for a person who defies what will become a new government norm, new legal norm, and that is that homosexual [unintelligible] becomes a protected class. And I don’t think a lot of people have fully comprehended that that is a bridge—we’ve never crossed that before, it would be the same kind of obligation that one would have for people of a race, people of a gender…
He went on to discuss the court’s role in the issue, and advocated for pastors to educate their congregation on why the issue is so important:
I want to say that, across the country, there are numerous cases, whether it’s the chaplains in the military being told to put their bibles away, no longer pray in Jesus’ name, not to counsel people who are in a homosexual lifestyle, not to counsel them to try to seek assistance for that, but rather to affirm that lifestyle as being normal and appropriate. We’re continually seeing the courts overturn marriage amendments in states, which is very disturbing because a lot of times, elected officials are capitulating immediately when a court makes a decision.
And let me say, having served as a governor for ten and a half years, I faced many Supreme Court decisions from the Arkansas State Supreme Court, but getting a decision from the court is not tantamount to saying, ‘well, that settles it, it’s the law of the land.’ And when I hear people say that, I just cringe, and I’m thinking, how many people passed 9th grade civics? This is not that complicated. There are three branches of government, not one. We don’t like it if the executive branch overreaches and pretends it can act indifference to the other two, and neither can we sit back and allow the court, one branch of government, to overrule the other two.
So, when a court rules that same sex marriage is ok, it doesn’t mean that the next day, marriage licenses should be issued for same-sex couples. It simply means that, if the legislature agrees with that court decision, and the representatives of the people, the elected officials, if they then put that into legislation and it is signed and enforced by the executive branch, then you have same-sex marriage. But until those other two branches act, what you have is a court opinion, and nothing else. And we’re seeing many people, including many politicians, simply surrender and wave the white flag, because I’m convinced that there are many people who just don’t want to take this issue on. It makes you, in essence, a pariah within the culture of the ruling class, and for politicians, I can assure you, that it makes you a pariah among the donor class. And even, supposedly conservative donors and conservative officeholders, are running away from the issue.
But the last backstop to stand for biblical marriage has to be the pastors on our pulpits. It has to be those who say, ‘we cannot capitulate on this issue because it’s not our issue, it’s God’s issue.’ We didn’t come up with the design of marriage, God did. It’s biblical, and we can negotiate many things that are clearly political, and don’t have biblical authority behind them. But I know that I feel very strongly, not just as a believer, but also as someone who has held public office that when there is a clash between one’s biblical convictions and principles and the law, one has to go with the biblical principles because they’re going to outlast a human made law that may in fact get overturned. And that’s why many of us, 42 years after Roe v Wade, continue to stand for the life issue. We have not given up on that issue. I haven’t, and I doubt you have. And I’m asking, and just encouraging all the pastors of America not to give up on marriage, but instead to help the congregation understand why it is the foundation of civilization, and why that our defense of biblical marriage is something that is not an option for Christian believers.
Huckabee then elaborated on the threat pastors would face if the courts continue to legislate on the issue of marriage:
If the courts rule that people have a civil right not only to be a homosexual but a civil right to have a homosexual marriage, then a homosexual couple coming to a pastor who believes in biblical marriage who says ‘I can’t perform that wedding’ will now be breaking the law. Let me make clear: It’s not just saying, ‘well, I’m sorry you have a preference.’ No, you will be breaking the law, subject to civil, for sure, and possibly criminal penalties for violating the law, depending on how the law is written in communities, states and in the nation. And that is more than a direct assault on just religious liberty, it doesn’t just say you can’t do something, it says that if you do practice biblical convictions, and you carry them out, and you do what you’ve been led by the spirit of God to do, your behavior will be criminal.
In closing, Huckabee told the pastors:
Once the courts have been allowed to run over us and nobody stands up for us in the other two branches of government, then God help us all.
Please don’t take this as an indictment of Gov. Huckabee. He did everything he could to point to the seriousness of the situation, except one thing: tell us what he would do, if elected President, to stop it.
I urge my fellow Huckabee lovers to push the governor for practical solutions, legislation he would support (like the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act), or executive actions he could take. We need to get serious about politics.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.