Former Arkansas governor and 2012 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee found himself in hot water this week after he called Islam the “antithesis of the gospel of Christ” and said that churches that share worship space with Muslims are caving to a religion “that says that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated.”
In an analysis of how Islam may shape campaign politics, Politico’s Bryon Tau wrote: “As Republican candidates define their national security stands in the 2012 elections, conservative discomfort with Islam in America will be a feature of the debate.”
Should Islam be debated on the campaign trail? Are religious issues in danger of being exploited?
My modest proposal: if we cannot leave religion off the stump, cannot resist hobnobbing at the pulpit, and glad-handing at the megachurch, then let us at least expand the parameters. How wonderful would it be if inherently pluralistic faith groupings like Hinduism, Buddhism, or modern Paganism were also allowed to ask questions on the same national podium that Christians now claim as their own? What if we allowed indigenous voices to ask moral questions of our prospective leaders instead of ceding that honor to the Rick Warrens of this world? If Muslims are to be so central to some political careers, to electoral futures, why not have each of these men of power sit down with a panel of Muslim leaders and academics to discuss their views? For surely, if a belief cannot withstand honest and open questioning, then it is worthless as guiding political policy.