I know that the heading to this post may sound somewhat blasphemous, but if the Calvinistic or Puritan notion of the “Elect” has now gotten so narrow that the opposite is true, we are all basically screwed and heaven is kind of like most of Montana or Wyoming or Alaska, at least in terms of its population density.
This past week, Ben Carson has come under fire for suggesting that Islamic beliefs may be incompatible with American values (though I don’t think that he ever managed to say it as straightforwardly or as articulately as I have done so in this sentence).
Now, Mike Huckabee has seemingly tried to synthesize elements of Ben Carson’s Islamophobia with elements of Donald Trump’s birtherism by suggesting that one’s performance as president—one’s fitness for the presidency—is tied to the genuineness of one’s religious beliefs, to the degree to which one’s religious beliefs are integral to, as opposed to superficially reflected in, one’s political decisions. In Huckabee’s view, President Obama is practicing a sort of Christianity of convenience that is at the core of his dismal performance as president and that demonstrates his unfitness for the office.
I am certain that Mike Huckabee knows the Bible much more thoroughly than I do, and I have no more expertise as a Constitutional scholar than as a Biblical scholar. Nonetheless, I kind of doubt that there is any Biblical or Constitutional basis for Mike Huckabee’s new and more rigorous “religious test” for determining fitness to hold high office.
Ironically, in proposing such a test, Mike Huckabee has demonstrated that although he may very well be the most devout Christian among the current group of presidential candidates, he is also the least likely, if not the least fit, to hold the office. For, although it is undoubtedly a blessing that polling and demographic data are not determinative factors for deciding who gets into heaven, polling and demographic data do matter a great deal in presidential politics. And all of the available data suggests that there are not enough Kim Davises and Kim Davis supporters out there for anyone to get the Republican nomination, never mind being elected to the presidency, by appealing to their brand of Calvinism. So, if a presidential candidate makes the sort of assertions that Mike Huckabee has just made, that candidate is essentially saying that he or she is not a serious candidate for the office and probably does not really understand what holding the office requires.
In effect, in trying to establish himself as a genuinely conservative alternative to Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee has adopted Trumpism, the new political notion that no publicity is bad publicity, especially if it generates even more publicity.