December 12, 2007

"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

Mike Huckabee asks the NYT reporter. The reporter, Zev Chafets, portrays Huckabee as rather sly:
Romney, a Mormon, had promised that he would be addressing the subject of his religion a few days later. I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. ‘‘I think it’s a religion,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t know much about it.’’

I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’
Earlier in the article, Chafets also references the devil — who, I think, appalls most NYT readers not because they fear Hell but because they fear those who concern themselves with the famous old supernatural malefactor. The context is that Huckabee is glowing over the endorsement of Tim LaHaye, author of the ‘‘Left Behind’’ series:
Recently [LaHaye] donated a hockey rink to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, although some members of the faculty there deride ‘‘Left Behind’’ as science fiction. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, has no such reservations. He considers the ‘‘Left Behind’’ books, in which the world comes to a violent end as Jesus triumphs over Satan, a ‘‘compelling story written for nontheologians.’’
Is Chafets trying to get readers to think that Huckabee is more benighted than a Liberty University professor? What actually is the difference between viewing the books as "science fiction" or as a "story for nontheologians"? Is it that those faculty members "deride" the story while Huckabee finds it "compelling"? But those unnamed faculty members don't stand to benefit from the endorsement of a very popular author, and there's actually nothing inconsistent between ridiculing the scenario in those books and acknowledging that the story works very well to engage some people in thinking about religion.

Satan horns his way into the article again when Chafets sits down to lunch with Huckabee:
Lunch with Mike Huckabee is a study in faith-based dieting. He has lost 110 pounds in recent years, a feat he chronicled in a book, ‘‘Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork.’’ This has given Huckabee something to talk about on daytime television. More important, it has lent him evangelical street cred. An important part of the evangelical narrative is overcoming the devil. But Huckabee was seemingly born born-again. Luckily for him, gluttony counts as a sin, Crisco as a Christian chemical dependency. By the time he reached 40, Huckabee had packed more than 300 pounds onto his 5-foot-11 frame. Then he began wrestling, calorie by calorie, with Satan.

Huckabee ordered soup and a sandwich without drama or comment and began talking about rock ’n’ roll.
Damn! Why won't Huck give Chafets the religious nuggets he so craves?
This is his regular warm-up gambit with reporters of a certain age, meant to convey that he is a cool guy for a Baptist preacher. Naturally I fell for it...
... but not hard enough to resist adding Satan! to the text of the article even though Huckabee apparently hadn't even mentioned religion at this point.
... and asked who he would like to play at his inaugural. ‘‘I’ve got to start with the Stones,’’ Huckabee said. The governor regards 1968 as the dawning of ‘‘the age of the birth-control pill, free love, gay sex, the drug culture and reckless disregard for standards.’’ The Rolling Stones album ‘‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’’ provided the soundtrack for that annus terribilis.
Satan again! Is Satan tempting Chafets? And why not tell us about "Sympathy for the Devil"? That came out in 1968. "Satanic Majesties Request" was released in 1967 and contained candyass songs like "She's a Rainbow." Maybe the editor decided it was high time to strike one Satan reference.
But Mike Huckabee wanted me to know that he believes in the separation of church and stage.
"Church and stage"? Oh, so that's not a typo? It's a Huckabee joke that's been processed into near imperceptibility.

You put all that Satan into the article and then you don't let us get the feeling for how he really talks about Satan? And the big quote everyone's going to get from the article is the one I've put in the title to this post, which leaves Huckabee — perhaps a kindly and humorous guy — looking... devilish.

49 comments:

George said...

America! What a great country.

It's like Winston Churchill said..."America is an echidna wrapped inside an enchilada, and it's a mystery."

Or something like that.

EnigmatiCore said...

It is a comforting quote in the way Hillary's ruthlessness is comforting; we want a president who will do whatever it takes to get the job done (whatever the job is).

But just like I don't want the downside to Hillary, I don't want someone who intentionally tries to rile up religious bigotry.

Now we get to see how the Republicans are as a party. Will the other candidates rally to Romney's side, despite him being an opponent? Or will they stay silent as someone tries to play to the worst impulses of voters?

OK, maybe not THE worst impulses, but rather base ones nonetheless.

MadisonMan said...

The more I learn about Huckabee, the less I like him.

ricpic said...

Huckabee begins to self-destruct. And not a moment too soon.

Tim said...

"The more I learn about Huckabee, the less I like him."

Indeed. The more I learn about insert name of any presidential candidate here, the less I like him/her.

However, Huckabee clearly benefits amongst Republicans that this was written by the NY Times.

Paco Wové said...

My thoughts exactly, MM.

Actually, those are my thoughts about all the candidates. I can already tell this is one of those elections where I vote against somebody, not for somebody.

Alan said...

""Church and stage"? Oh, so that's not a typo? It's a Huckabee joke that's been processed into near imperceptibility."

Of course, that wasn't a typo. Huckabee believes there should be no separation between church and state. After all, the majority of signers of the Declaration of Independence were clergy.

MadisonMan said...

this is one of those elections where I vote against somebody, not for somebody.


It does look like a lesser of two evils thing. It would be nice for a number of reasons if someone noteworthy appeared and took the nomination from any of these people who have been running. They will have wasted all that time -- and maybe the next Primary season won't start quite so soon.

It would also be nice if I found $20 on the walk home from work today. As long as I'm dreaming...

Henry said...

Or not.

Alan, were you being ironic? I can't tell.

Oh, and all of the signers were men. That works for Hucakabee too!

Zeb Quinn said...

While Huckabee is demonstrably a flawed candidate himself, he nevertheless draws the point about Mormonism that needs to be drawn, i.e., that in the scheme of things it's a very kooky religion. And really Huckabee has just scratched the surface with the Jesus and the devil are brothers thing. Ever wonder why there are so few black Mormons? Black people look at the Mormons and what they believe about black people, and they look at what the Mormons say they used to believe, but say they don't believe anymore, and then the black people run the other way as fast as they can. Huckabee will be getting into all that one next. And as I recall the last time we had that particular conversation on the campaign trail was in the spring of 1968 when Mitt's father, George, was running for president.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Actually Jesus wants to know what Huckleberry and the rest of the Presidential canidates plan on handling immigratrion, spending, the deficit, China, establishing an energy program, saving SSA and taxes.

Be nice if they leave the religious musings to the Pope.

christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Starting To Learn said...

Speaking of black Mormons:
http://blacklds.org

Henry said...

this is one of those elections where I vote against somebody, not for somebody.

I dunno. I haven't cast a postive vote for a presidential candidate in my life but twice - 1984 (Reagan) and 1992 (Clinton). The choice has generally ranged from dreary (1988) to cover-your-eyes awful (2004).

Except for the populism, natavism, defeatism, inexperience, and dishonesty, the current candidates aren't such a bad lot so far.

ricpic said...

Ye shall know the tree by its fruit. In my experience Mormons are overwhelmingly industrious, law abiding and doing well by doing right. Not a bad advertisement for their religion. I'm beginning to think that a lot of the animus directed at Mormons is simple envy.

Henry said...

Zeb -- Do you really think white Southern Baptist Huckabee wants to bring up the subject of what a candidates' religious forebears used to believe about race?

SteveR said...

Huckabee is the democrats' dream nominee, Romney et.al. have flaws but not like this guy. People will accept (overlook) a lot of things but weird, not so well.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Huckabee. Tax and spend. Let career rapist out based on bad information. And now religious bigotry.

No way am I voting for THAT.

Cedarford said...

Zeb - And as I recall the last time we had that particular conversation on the campaign trail was in the spring of 1968 when Mitt's father, George, was running for president.

Just so you know, the Romneys said that the issue of Mormonism never really came up when George Romney ran. The wisdom back in 1968 was that JFK had put that in America's past, and anyone of any religion could run for President and get a fair objective hearing from the voters on what they would do if elected, not on how wise or stupid a candidate's faith is.

And George Romney was a strong civil rights advocate both in the corporate world and the Republican Party. He marched with King in Michigan.

I'm sick of the Republicans being bogged down bootlicking to the Southern Religious Right and I'm sick of the Dem's platitudes and particularly Obama's "new way" drivel. What about China, health insurance being unaffordable for a growing number of private purchasers and self-insured? What energy plan? Iran? Reapproachement with Europe, Russia, Latin America? How will they address ruinous deficits and trade balances. Which among them speaks foreign languages? What is the exact paper or witness documentation of their "executive experience"?

===============
Althouse - you're wrong on the Stones "Her Satanic Majesties Request" and songs like the LSD-influenced "She's a Rainbow" being candyass. That album marks the last time the Stones took a creative risk. Then it was on to 6-8 years of new "bluesy rock" following their past formula for success, then 30 years of creative, but financially lucrative musical desert.

Other songs (from that album, their psychedelic experimental album, inherited from an uncle who died) that were really good were 'Citadel" and "2000 Light Years From Home".

Sheepman said...

"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
This shows that he is definitely not ready for prime time. No competent mainstream candidate would come out with a quote like this. They'd have a surrogate do it.

jeweejewish said...

Wow, I can't believe I'm agreeing with the classic old-school anti-semite, but yes, Cedarford old horse -- Ann's completely wrong about "Satanic Majesties." With the exception of the long fake jam at the end, it's one of the Stones' most inventive albums.

Of course, it's no surprise that Ann's opinions on music are as shallow and uninformed as her views on politics. She is, after all, somebody who obsesses over "American Idol"...

Justin said...

ricpic said...

Ye shall know the tree by its fruit. In my experience Mormons are overwhelmingly industrious, law abiding and doing well by doing right. Not a bad advertisement for their religion.

I agree. In my experience, Mormons are more Christian than most Christians.

Paddy O. said...

Is Chafets trying to get readers to think that Huckabee is more benighted than a Liberty University professor? What actually is the difference between viewing the books as "science fiction" or as a "story for nontheologians"? Is it that those faculty members "deride" the story while Huckabee finds it "compelling"? But those unnamed faculty members don't stand to benefit from the endorsement of a very popular author, and there's actually nothing inconsistent between ridiculing the scenario in those books and acknowledging that the story works very well to engage some people in thinking about religion.

Okay we hear a lot about code words and secret messages to Evangelicals. This is one of those cases where you're getting a glimpse of a major battle within the movement with lines being drawn and sides being chosen.

Left Behind is immensely popular. It's also incredibly bad theology. In fact I'd say that there's likely no greater gap in any theological subject between academic and popular theology than with the interpretation of Revelation and end times stuff.

It gets people to think wrong about their own religion. Even conservative theologians understand this.

However, it's a reflection of a popular theology. So Huckabee is placing himself among the people, identifying with those in the pews rather than those in front, taking advantage of a persistent anti-intellectualism especially as it relates to advanced Christian education.

"A story for nontheologians" is saying that it's something the folks outside the ivory tower will get. It's saying that it's not high highfalutin', irrelevant, unfaithful stuff that the theologians like to ponder.

It's saying that it's theology written in an accessible way so that the average fellow can understand it and enjoy it.

It's saying that it's not wholly fiction.

Saying it's science fiction is saying the books are coming only from the imagination of the authors. Saying it's "a story for nontheologians" is saying the authors drew from from God.

Huckabee is playing his intended audience extremely well. And from what I'm seeing in various forums, it's working.

He's an Elmer Gantry, with a lot less personal foibles, but the same mixed motives and ability to say what his listeners what to hear in a way they'll really hear it.

John Kindley said...

Warning to Mike Huckabee for future reference: Don't have lunch with the devil just cause he wants to do a "story" on you.

Donald Douglas said...

"....who, I think, appalls most NYT readers not because they fear Hell but because they fear those who concern themselves with the famous old supernatural malefactor."

That's a good one! This too:

"More important, it has lent him evangelical street cred."

Must be going down well in Des Moines!

American Power

Roost on the Moon said...

SteveR,

Weird? How is Huckabee weird? Creationism, I guess. It seems like both Giuliani and Romney have bigger "weird" issues.

But, yeah, speaking as someone who wants the Republicans as far from power as possible, I would welcome a Huckabee nomination. He'd lose.

Actually, I would welcome the nomination of anyone but Giuliani. The GOP is going to need to bite the bullet on guns, abortion, gays, and god. That or sit the next 4 years out.

("Left Behind" fans are already "priced in"; they'd sooner vote for a Frenchman than "The Bitch" or "Barack Osama".)

Hoosier Daddy said...

Tax and spend. Let career rapist out based on bad information

Now I'm starting to think maybe it's Dukakis in disguise.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Now I'm starting to think maybe it's Dukakis in disguise.

Put him in a tank!

Blue Moon said...

A couple of posters mentioned that they hope Huck wins the primary so Dems will win in the fall. I think Huck is the most dangerous GOP candidate. Once again, this will all come down to Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Against Obama, Huck neutralizes the "nice" factor -- vs. Hillary, he energizes the GOP base and "aw shucks" his way through the campaign and she comes off looking shrill and mean. IMO, most people offended by Huck's unsubtle religious appeals weren't going to vote GOP anyway.

As someone who kind of likes the guy, I wish he'd shut up. It is appropriate to make distinctions between religions when you are a minister, not so much when running for public office.

garage mahal said...

Huckabee. Tax and spend. Let career rapist out based on bad information.

You would think our liberal media would finally tell us the story of the lunacy of the 90s and the intense Clinton hatred that pushed Huckabee to parole a convicted rapist, even after hearing chilling accounts of other women claiming to be raped by Dumond. You would think. You would also think they would explain why Huckabee thought Dumond got a "raw deal".

Chirp chirp.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann's blog calls attention to Huckabee's remarkable skill at politics-as-performance-art. Like others here, I can't imagine Huckabee as president. But putting that aside, he is a far more skillful and interesting phenom than his critics are willing to admit. The interaction between Zev Chafets and Huckabee was especially funny. You just know that, as a NYT reporter, Chafets understands that his readership (both editorial and public) views Huckabee as a yahoo from a Baptist fever swamp. (If you need a comparison, Huckabee is to them what Sharpton as a political candidate was for Rep conservatives.) It's a fair bet that Chafets probably shares that view of Huckabee. Has Chafets ever even met a white, Southern Baptist before? Yet it's the yahoo who ends up running circles around the NYT reporter. When he came to write his article, Chafets seems to have figured that out, too, even if he tried to spin things a bit differently.

Bravo, Huckabee -- but he should still never be allowed even to visit the Oval Office.

SGT Ted said...

Huckabee is just showing himself to be an old time Southern Baptist religious bigot. He certainly isn't a conservative. More of a pro-life Christian socialist with a Jesus complex, seeing how many criminals he could pardon and downtrodden illegal aliens he can suck up to.

I wonder if he thinks the Pope is the anti-christ, too?

Roger Sweeny said...

Huckabee is the Republican John Edwards.

Cabbage said...

Never trust anyone who self-applies the "theologian" label.

/typical low church nonsense
//There were Gregory, John, and Simeon.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Huckabee is the Republican John Edwards.

Comment of the day, so far...

hdhouse said...

Oh is this going to be a fun year.

Zeb Quinn said...

Cedarford,

I'm relatively old. I was in my first year of college then and as such I remember the 1968 campaign. George Romney's religion was under some scrutiny but it never reached critical mass because other events short-circuited the candidacy first. Specifically, George Romney was leading in the polls when he up and declared that he'd been "brainwashed" about Vietnam. A really poor choice of words. Not so much his shift to being against continuation of the war, but more because of the imagery evoked by the word "brainwash." People didn't want to support a candidate who had a propensity toward being brainwashed about anything. His candidacy went pffffft, and the need to fully confront the Mormon thing was avoided. But it was percolating, and you know that Nixon, being Nixon, was preparing to use the issue. Nixon would've probably said something like, "I'm not going to comment on Romney's Mormonism. People are able to examine that for themselves." Or something like that, and it would've been enough.

Balfegor said...

Huckabee is the democrats' dream nominee, Romney et.al. have flaws but not like this guy. People will accept (overlook) a lot of things but weird, not so well.

Weird? How quickly we forget! Remember Romney's dog? Remember Battlefield Earth!?

In the weirdness stakes, Romney beats Huckabee by a wide margin. Between the two, I'd . . . prefer Romney. By rather a lot. But he's still clearly weirder than Huckabee.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Battlefield Earth? Is John Travolta running?

See this is the whole thing about "weird" religions. Zeb wrote, in the scheme of things it's a very kooky religion.

In the scheme of things? How about in the scheme of snake-handling, speaking in tongues, faith healing, baptism by full immersion, bible literalism, original sin, transubstantiation, and instant karma?

What's weird about that?

Eli Blake said...

Incidentally the Democrats had a battle between a born-again Christian (Jimmy Carter) and a Mormon (Morris Udall) in 1976. In other words, the GOP is about a generation behind the Democrats.

Bet Huckabee doesn't carry Utah or Idaho with these kinds of comments, even if he has the nomination wrapped up by then.

Balfegor said...

Battlefield Earth? Is John Travolta running?

No, it's apparently Mitt Romney's favourite novel.

Henry said...

Ouch.

Joe said...

Born and raised Mormon, now thoroughly agnostic (with a strong dose of apatheism.) Still, if I had to choose a religion to believe in, I'd still pick Mormonism since at the core it's quite pragmatic. I find it less nutty than most religions (just for example, transubstantiation is as absurd a religious doctrine as any as is the Nicene Creed, which makes no sense whatsoever.)

Trooper York said...

I would definitely vote for Romney if he promises that his crazy sister in law would serve anti-freeze to Helen Thomas. But that’s just me.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am more conservative than not, but Huckabee scares me. Likely because I am much more economic and libertarian conservative than religiously so. Contrary to a number of my liberal friends, who see the religious right at work in everything that George W. Bush does, I haven't been the least bit worried along those lines with our current president. But I would be with Huckabee.

Having lived in Salt Lake City, and having had a number of Mormon friends over the year, I see absolutely nothing to worry me with Romney. Sure, I find Mormonism a bit weird, but as noted above, Christianity to non-Christians often seems as weird. But Romney is a born-Mormon, just like I am a born-Christian, and so can accept the more bizarre facets of our faiths without real questions.

Maybe my trust in Romney over Huckabee is that the former essentially says vote for me because I am competent, and just happen to be Mormon, and the later is essentially saying vote for me because I have similar religious beliefs to yours, and don't bother looking at my record.

downtownlad said...

Now that Huckabee has publicly come out in favor of putting gay people in concentration camps, I don't see any scenario how he can lose the nomination. It's his race to lose.

All Republicans despise gay people, and Huckabee despises them the most.

Henry said...

Joe, for a minute there I thought you mistyped, but no. Apathiesm. Perfect. That's me.

Trooper York said...

Tim Russert (moderator of debate): Governor Huckabee is Mormonism a religion?
Governor Huckabee: Yes it is a religion. But don’t the Mormons believe that the devil and Jesus are brothers?
Mayor Rudi Giuliani: That is a bald faced lie. My ex wife is the devil, so she would have to be Jesus’ sister.
Senator Fed Thompson (wakes suddenly up after snoozing) I thought Matty and Felipe were Jesus’ brothers.
John McCain: I was a prisoner of war.
Ron Paul: I was abducted by aliens and probed anally.
Tom Tancredo: I told you that aliens are dangerous.
Tim Russert: We will be right back after this message from Viagra.