Quick Note: Huckabee’s Troubling Barton Fandom

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 30, 2011 — 31 Comments

Recent polls have placed former Arkansas governor and Fox talk-show host Mike Huckabee as the likely front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket. Though he’s been a bit coy about if and when he’ll officially throw his hat into the ring, this is an enviable position to be in, far better than the one populist favorite Sarah Palin is in. However, while Huckabee tries to present an aura of likability and reasonableness to many Americans, his alliances have become very troubling. Perhaps most troubling for modern Pagans is his friendship with David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders.  A man who believes that “paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses.”

The true historic meaning of “religion” excludes paganism and witchcraft, and thus, does not compel a conclusion that McCollum has state taxpayer standing … paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses. Thus, in the present case there can be no violation of those clauses … Should this Court conclude that McCollum has taxpayer standing … this Court should at least acknowledge that its conclusion is compelled by Supreme Court precedent, not by history or the intent of the Framers.”

At the American Family Association’s (AFA) recent Rediscover God In America conference, Huckabee tried to express just how much affection he has for Barton and his work.


“And I just wish that every single young person in America would be able to be under his tutelage and understand something about who we really are as a nation. I almost wish that there would be a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced, at gunpoint no less, to listen to every David Barton message and I think our country would be better for it.”

Now, obviously Huckabee was engaging in a bit of comic hyperbole, but that makes his full-throated endorsement of Barton’s teachings no less troubling. I would even be willing to give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt, and say he doesn’t know the full toxic extent of Barton’s teachings, except that other people he cozies up to, like the AFA’s Bryan Fischer, have also publicly expressed their views that the Free Exercise Clause doesn’t apply to non-Christians.

“Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.”

Huckabee can only claim ignorance for so long, he’ll eventually have to take a stand on whether or not he believes that the First Amendment protects the religious rights of all Americans, not just the Christian ones. If he doesn’t, if he remains silent on this issue, then it’s all but a tacit endorsement of marginalizing minority faiths in America, and he, in my mind, then disqualifies himself from becoming the president of a secular government. You can’t drop spiritual warfare hairpins and still claim to be a moderate.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • http://twitter.com/temperatelogic @temperatelogic

    Hearing a US presidential hopeful speak of forcing citizens to do anything "at gunpoint", even in jest, is disturbing. These are definitely not the Republicans of my parents' generation.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I may well be of your parents' generation and I can assure you, that Republican party is long gone.

    • Crystal7431

      What is it exactly with these right-wing yahoos and their jokes about guns, bombs, and murder? I think what makes it disturbing is that deep down you (and I) get the gut sense that it's heartfelt.

      • http://pallasrenatus.blogspot.com Pallas Renatus

        These are the same sort of "jokes" that the socially-awkward kid on the playground makes. Either you wait for people to laugh and agree with you, or reel backward yelling "it was only a joke!" when someone gets pissed. It's sincerity with a backup plan.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

        I'd say you haven't watched enough action movies. Guns, bombs, and violence can be really funny.

        • Crystal7431

          I only do action films if they involve sword fighting.

  • http://greensborominister.com/ Wes Isley

    This sort of thing just gets me going! Sure, I might agree that the founders of our country never really imagined we’d be debating tax status of pagan groups–but so what? Many of the religious groups around today, whether Christian, Buddhist or whatever–they weren’t even on the radar back in the 18th century! I think we have a case here of picking on the little guy. The fact that pagans exist surprises the Mike Huckabees and David Bartons of the world. However, I grew up with a group of Baptists who weren’t afraid to tell you that they didn’t think Catholics were Christians, nor were Mormons and, most likely, the Pentecostals weren’t either! So who gets to say which religion is authentic and which isn’t? If anyone dared strip Catholics or Mormons (hello, Mitt) of their tax status or even suggested such a thing, there’d be a huge outcry–because those groups have money and influence and pagans don’t.

    • Aline O'Brien

      Actually, I think that Pagans have more influence and money than they profess. Yes, we are a marginal religion in population terms, but most of us are middle class or better off — look at the Pagan presence in the computer industry, for instance. I think too many Pagans have an emotional investment in being "other" and misunderstood and they cannot seem to release this attitude. I know I'm gonna get a bunch of Pagans on my case for saying this. And I say this from the very bottom of the economic ladder where I live. (My sole source of income is Social Security, and chances of my getting another job are slim to none at my age and in this economy.)

      It just so happens, as you have read a lot about on this blog, that we have Pagans in the highest circles of local, regional, national and international interfaith, where we have colleagues who will stand up for us. Further, we have had (closeted) Pagan presence among the religion advisors to two Democratic presidential candidates, as well as having out Pagan delegates to the DNC.

      Look what Peter Dybing did in getting Pagans to come up with $30K for disaster relief for Japan. Huzzah, Peter and all who helped!

      I'm not quarreling with you, Wes. Only offering a reality check for those Pagans who still embrace victimhood and the notion of scarcity. We, especially in the U.S., live in unbelievable luxury compared to 90% of humanity.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Macha, if this Pagan could move out of fixed-income atatus by divesting attitude it would be gone in a New York second.

      • Leea

        Hi Macha…in general I do agree with you. My concern is that we present an easy target for far right-wingers and religious extremists. We get targeted, they get media face time and people who have little knowledge of us think that just maybe, we are some sort of a risk. It just feels to me like there is a rise in neo-fascism in our government which targets "others" as well as those who are pro-abortion, pro-union, etc. As Pagans, many of us aren't out of the broom closet, and the current political climate may well discourage more of us to remain quiet. I don't THINK all this will lead to a new "third reich", but the rise of fascism in the 30's and 40's, and the relaltive ease in which the Jewish people were targeted-in spite of wealth and power-makes me leary, to say the least….

        • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

          It may be worth pointing out that the two biggest factors for targeting someone for bullying or hate crimes are still 1) race, and 2) sexual orientation.

      • Oberon

        Hi Macha,
        I think that at one time most of us were more middle class and more 'pute saavy, thats how we found each other in the '80s, through BBs and such.
        But for some time, in my area, Detroit, Michigan, and certainly before the current economic frame, we begun to notice something that we call
        "The Pagan Poverty Mindset", where, pretty much, the most educated and towards middle class in this area are a much smaller part of the community. We have many, many more people who profess poverty and seem undereducated.

        But that is just here, it may be that overall, your views are more true.

        -Oberon Oisris

  • http://twitter.com/rmmcgrath @rmmcgrath

    Let's not blow this out of proportion. Huckabee, to my knowledge, hasn't expressed any views suggesting that non-Christian religions don't deserve the same religious protection as Christian denominations. His friend did. Sure, Huckabee may agree with a lot of what his friend says but that doesn't mean he agrees with everything.

    Also, Huckabee hasn't even announced his candidacy. Even then, he still has to win the nomination. And beat Obama. Let's not get carried away and invent issues where there are none yet. Yes, Huckabee is a born-again Christian. But that doesn't mean he's going to legislate against non-Christian religions.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Did you play the embedded video? Huckabee praised Barton as someone who uses the Bible to analyze everything about America, and said everyone should be compelled to listen to Barton. That's bloody dangerous talk. It's not blowing anything out of proportion to be leery of this guy.

      No, he hasn't announced, Nobody has. But one of these clowns is going to get the GOP nomination, and will thus have the Republican money and slander machine behind him (or her) to take on Obama in a down economy. Jason's level of alarm is hardly premature.

      • Bubba C

        "No, he hasn't announced, Nobody has."

        Actually, one Republican has announced, Fred Karger. He is also the first openly gay man to run for a major party nomination for president.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Ah, well, had I known that I would have said something like, "Nobody with a snowball's chance has." Has Karger any policies?

    • http://www.bryonmorrigan.com BryonMorrigan

      Why non-Christians would ever make excuses for guys like Huckabee or these other Christian Supremacists is beyond me… It's like African-Americans saying, "Wait a second, you know. I understand that this David Duke guy is a Klanmember and White Supremacist, but let's hear what he has to say on the economy!"

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

      I agree, let us not make mountains out of molehills just yet. Besides, even if he is an uber-christian that would try and legistlate morality, he's still a Hel of a lot better than Palin. At least Huckabee would be nice about it and I suspect might be willing to listen to reason. She'd just shoot us, call us unAmerican, and dance on our graves. Sorry, but I'd take Huckabee, at least he has Chuck Norris.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        And Palin would be better than David Duke. Being preferable to Palin is hardly a recommendation.

  • Cheryl Essary Nesselrodt

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible. – Sinclair Lewis

    • http://www.bryonmorrigan.com BryonMorrigan

      Technically, it wasn't Sinclair Lewis who said that. It was Professor Halford E. Luccock of Yale Divinity School. I agree with the sentiment, but am a stickler for accurately attributing quotations, especially on a thread about "Mr. Fake Quotations" himself (Barton).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Huckabee's always been a big ole Dominionist; this has been covered extensively on more political blogs. No pagan or atheist has any reason to vote for him.

  • Apple

    *shudder* I don't think I would feel safe staying in the country if this man became president. My parents held fundraisers for him last election, and were very fond of him, and I just stared in horror at the fact that they thought that he was a good choice for president of a country that is… not all like them. I can hope and pray that, should Huckabee get the nomination, I can use things like this to show them that this would be a VERY BAD PLAN, and not support him. I don't hold out much hope, and I know convincing two people of this is not very helpful, but… I'd rather not have to pack up and move to Canada.

    • Crystal7431

      Explaining to -ahem- conservative* people why a dominionist is bad is a lost cause. Attempting to explain to monotheistic minded folks why dominionism is bad will mostly get you blank stares.

    • suzyree

      “The United States is in no sense founded upon Christian doctrine”..George Washington, “I do not find in orthodox christianity, one redeeming feature”..Thomas Jefferson, “The bible is not my book,and christianity not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma” Abraham Lincoln. I get so fed up with people twisting what our founding fathers stood for just to suit their agenda….you’ll never hear any of these quotes come out of a conservatives mouth.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

        Hail to our Great Fathers! The gods and goddess did smile upon them when they built this nation. Let us keep it as they would.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    Huckabee is absolutely right about "the true historic meaning of 'religion'" from a Christian perspective. Until just the last century, most Christian sects did not even recognize one another as legitimate "religions". In fact, the whole idea that Christianity is just one "religion" among many is completely foreign to Christian theology, and this idea can only be adopted by Christians because of their freakishly high tolerance for cognitive dissonance.

  • William Clements

    Add to this mess the following from dailykos:

    <quote>As reported today on MSNBC, a Wiccan TSA employee accused of witchcraft has been fired. As described below, listed apostles of a global evangelical movement that claims to fight witchcraft will, on April 1-2, be holding a conference at Harvard University.

    While Salem has garnered all the attention, the real peak of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's witch craze was in what is now North Andover, where two dogs were tried and executed for witchcraft. It's been a few years now since witch hunting was in vogue in Massachusetts, but the upcoming Social Transformation Conference to be held at Harvard this April 1-2 could help rekindle the practice. Footage from a November 2009 evangelical conference held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village near Honolulu shows scheduled Social Transformation Conference speaker Dr. Pat Francis up onstage, her voice cracking with intensity, shouting out "In the name of Jesus we break the power, of witchcraft power, every witchcraft power, we drive you http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/28/960974/-

    While we loved the idea that we were being accepted into society, with the exception of those wacky fringe fundamentalist, in reality they were just looking for way to get a head count and we gave them one. We thought that the christian right was dying and those left in the movenent were the crazies, but it turns out that this was a clever marketing campaign to make them appear dead, while they went to work quietly in the background, and we are now beginning to see the fruits of their labors

    This threat from this extreme right applies to EVERY religion outside of domiinionist fundamentalism. Pagans, Wiccans, Voudon, Santeria, Lucumi Buddhisn, Hindus, Muslims and so many others. The tolerant Christian sects and the Jews will be the last ones to feel heat.

    And for those who think that there are many more moderate christians than there are these extremists, that matters not. The Koch Brothers and many others in the wealthy top are tied into this and they have the money
    needed to do the damage, and this extremist right has almost all the pieces in place.

    So the next step is to ask, 'What do we do?' Isaac Bonewitz was onto something with the 'Spells For Democracy' project. We need something bigger this time.

    I am sorry to freak anyone out, its just that I have been following this new brand of christian extremism for quite some time, And its hard to look away from it once you have taken notice because thelittle clues start popping up all over the place. If you want to look into it further start with:

    Talk2action is christian in nature and they have been ringing the belks for almost a decade

    Google : dogemperor
    He blogs on Daily Kos and has a good 'Dominionism 101 series
    Google : the dark side of christianity
    Google: third wave dominionism

    Being under the umbrella of a pagan community, I would say that for the most part we are in a unique position in that we can easily put our political differences aside to see that we are all indeed in the same boat, and its decidedly not the 'Ship of Fools'

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    As Selena Fox pointed out, Pagans are becoming both more accepted and more discriminated against. With this kind of comment in the political background, a flip point might be reached in which it suddenly become foreground. We need to be ready, or at least alert.

  • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

    Here is a Novel Idea. How about we go to Huckabee and ask him how he feels about Pagans and if he would take action against us? That way we know where we stand, and if he fails to keep his word we can take some legitimate action against him, rather than rant and rave, splitting our limited energy fighting every shadow. He's better than Palin. Let us obtain his oath of neutrality, if not an Oath of friendship, and go from there.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Excellent idea! Go ahead and try, and by all means get back here and tell us what happened and how it went.