Quick Note: Huckabee’s Troubling Barton Fandom

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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.