Thus far in the 2008 presidential campaign cycle, "religion" has played a far bigger role than in any recent elections. This does not necessarily translate to actual issues of importance to one religious constituency or another, but rather that the religion of individual candidates themselves is a major topic. And as this pattern continues, a glaring hypocrisy is emerging. In short, all religions are to be beyond criticism or question, with the sole exception of Biblical Christianity.
At the slightest suggestion that a candidate's religion might call his or her judgment or fitness for office into question, the instant and universal response from across the political spectrum is a chorus of accusations of "religious bigotry" and intolerance. No less an icon of punditry than Robert Novak made essentially that case in his October 4, 2007 column. Unless, of course, the religion in question is Southern Baptist and the principal involved is Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, at which point the preacher becomes fair game.
To be sure, Mike Huckabee has his political liabilities. His record on taxes is abysmal, and past philosophies on border control and illegal immigration are completely out of sync with mainstream America. Yet this is not the basis on which some of his loudest critics assail him, but rather on matters of faith. And the situation is particularly discouraging since such castigation now comes at him from the right.
In his December 11 article, nationally syndicated columnist Rich Lowry, editor of the monumental conservative publication National Review, asserts that primarily as a result of Huckabee's religious beliefs, Republican support for the Arkansas Governor, would amount to party "suicide." Lowry then proceeds to deride Huckabee on several issues, including his belief in the Biblical account of creation.
It needs to be recalled here that at the recent CNN/Youtube debate, when Republican candidates were asked to explain their views on the significance of the Bible, all who were allowed to answer asserted, in one form or another, that they regarded it as the Word of God.
Apparently, in Lowry's world, such statements are just fine as long as they are clearly presented only as platitudes for the cameras. But let a candidate suggest that he really meant what he said on the topic, and he is ever after classified as unfit to hold office in modern, secular America.
Lowry goes on to warn that Huckabee's hayseed religion would be a turn off to those whom he euphemistically describes as "upper income Republicans," a group more accurately termed as northeastern liberals. Moreover, that was precisely the group who were first to rail against Christian conservatives who refused to support Rudy Giuliani when his standing in the polls appeared to make his nomination inevitable.
In other words, if Giuliani gains the nomination, the only appropriate response of Christian conservatives is to abandon every precept of right and wrong that they hold dear, in order to maintain "unity" with the liberal wing of the party.
Yet if Huckabee prevails and Republican liberals flee simply because they disdain the personal views of one man's belief on the origin of humanity, it would not be their fault but rather the fault of those who hold to such archaic views. No hypocrisy or double standards here to be sure.
Lowry's ultimate message is simply that while the Republican Party has reaped "an enormous benefit" by its beneficent condescension to the Christians, such people need to understand that their rightful place, in the eyes of the patricians and elitists who make up its real core, will always be at the back of the bus. And keep the noise to an absolute minimum.
The contrast of Lowry's views towards the two constituencies, the significance of the general agreement with him among establishment Republicans, and the telling lack of any criticism over this obvious double standard when compared to the deference shown to Mitt Romney, is absolutely telling. Admittedly Romney's Mormon religion is mentioned on a regular basis, but only insofar as some among the grassroots have expressed their reservations about it, for which they are immediately lampooned.
Nowhere has Romney faced the kind of high-level brush off on the basis of faith as Huckabee is currently receiving. The puzzling current situation in Wyoming, an early deciding state, presents ample proof of this.
While Romney's current enthusiastic advocacy of conservative principle has undoubtedly bolstered his popularity in Wyoming, some strange things have been going on across the Cowboy State. Nearly two hundred people showed up for the caucuses of Teton County, over on the Utah/Idaho border, which is an unbelievable departure from their normal attendance of a few dozen.
Among this massive infusion of newcomers, few if any had ever been previously involved in Wyoming politics. And things were much the same in Laramie County, where Cheyenne, the state capital, is located.
Romney's past stances on key social issues, which by his own words have at times put him to the left of Ted Kennedy, and more strikingly his current statements on the Second Amendment, which is inarguably the defining issue to Wyoming voters, should put him at great odds with this reddest of the red states.
Somewhat surprisingly, Romney seems to have thought for some time that he will do extremely well in the upcoming Wyoming county conventions, as evidenced by his obvious efforts to elevate the significance of Wyoming and its candidate selection process on Sean Hannity's December 10 radio broadcast. One has to wonder what could possibly be the "ace" that Romney believes he has up his sleeve?
Still, nobody publicly suggests what everybody wonders about in private. But in the case of Mike Huckabee, were he suspected of issuing a call to his fellow Southern Baptists, or even more darkly, if the Southern Baptist Convention were thought to be issuing edicts to its faithful to get involved in the process, the public outcry would be loud and relentless.
The American left has, over time, so twisted interpretation of "separation of Church and state" that the Lord's Prayer is strictly forbidden in the schools, Christmas Carols are banned in any governmental institution, and any mention of the Christian influence on the nation's founding and history is expunged from discussion.
Meanwhile, the Islamic celebration of Ramadan, praise for the virtues of Islam, earth worship, or any new age ideology that comes along is perfectly acceptable in those same institutions.
In other words, the incessantly repeated "separation of Church and state" doctrine really amounts to the eradication of any Christian presence or influence in American society. In politics, that translates to a general respect for the religious views for all, except Biblical Christians in whose case it is open season. And as usual, in this sordid game, Republican liberals are close behind the Democrats.
Copyright ©2008 Christopher G. Adamo