Mike Huckabee Tests GOP’s Social Conservatism Ahead of Possible 2016 Run

Mike Huckabee

Despite backlash against former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s recent criticisms of “gratuitous profanity” and sexual immorality in America, GOP politicians and Baptist leaders agree that social conservatives still play a prominent role in the Republican Party.

“There has been a huge push for fiscal conservatives to step out and lead in Republican policy issues and decision-making,” U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., told Baptist Press. “But the vast majority of Republicans are social conservatives. They’re also fiscal conservatives, but they’re social conservatives first. While some people would say, ‘Be quieter on those issues,’ that’s who we are.”

Huckabee, a Republican who is considering a run for the White House in 2016, said during a Feb. 1 interview on CNN that same-sex marriage “is not just a political issue. It is a biblical issue. And as a biblical issue, unless I get a new version of the Scriptures, it’s really not my place to say, OK, I’m just going to evolve.”

In the same interview, Huckabee lamented the loss of religious liberty among business owners who choose not to provide goods or services in support of gay weddings. Huckabee’s comments drew criticism on Twitter and in various media outlets. Previously he lamented the widespread cursing he has encountered in New York City.

Huckabee finished second in 2008 to Sen. John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination to face then-Sen. Barack Obama. He is a former pastor of Southern Baptist churches in Pine Bluff and Texarkana, Ark., and a former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention; a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia; and a former student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas.

Since ending his Fox News TV show Jan. 3 in view of a possible presidential bid, Huckabee has also drawn criticism for saying rap artist Jay-Z is “exploiting” his wife Beyoncé by permitting her to dance as a “sex object.”

In addition to criticism from liberals, some conservatives have taken issue with Huckabee’s emphasis on morality in the public square.

“Here on the right, we often complain that the political, media, and entertainment classes regard most of the country as rather irrelevant, and that, in consequence, they openly condescend to people who live in Alabama or who go to church or who have NRA stickers on their cars,” Charles C.W. Cooke wrote Jan. 28 in the conservative publication National Review Online.

“There is much to this gripe. And yet one will not solve that problem by presenting as a countervailing force a person who sneers right back — especially when that person is seeking an extraordinary amount of power over his fellow citizens. Whatever cultural renaissance Mike Huckabee might believe is necessary in the United States, it will be up to civil society and not to the political classes to bring it about,” Cooke wrote.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
David Roach

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