Religion and Politics ’08: Mike Huckabee
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.A., 1980
Ouachita Baptist University, B.A., 1975
Formed exploratory committee Jan. 28, 2007.Formally withdrew candidacy Mar. 4, 2008.
Governor of Arkansas, 1996-2007
Chairman, National Governors Association, 2005-2006
Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, 1993-1996
President, Cambridge Communications, 1992-1996
President, KBSC-TV, 1987-1992
President, Beech Street Communications, 1986-1992
Baptist Minister, 1980-1992
President, Arkansas Baptist State Convention, 1989-1991
President, ACTS-TV, 1983-1986
Advertising Director, Focus, 1976-1980
Spouse: Janet Huckabee
Children: John Mark Huckabee, David Huckabee, Sarah Huckabee
Born in Hope, Ark. (the boyhood home of former President Clinton), Huckabee was raised as a Southern Baptist. He wrote in his book, From Hope to Higher Ground, that from the time he was a teenager he saw a future for himself working in communications for an evangelical organization “because of my deep personal faith.”
Before jumping into politics, Huckabee made that vision a reality. He graduated in two-and-a-half years with a bachelor’s degree in religion from Ouachita Baptist University, a church-related, liberal arts university. Heoccasionally preached on weekends while attending school. After graduating, Huckabee directed and produced television programs, publications, advertising and public relations for Focus, a faith-based ad agency in Texas that served a national evangelical organization. He also earned a master’s degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
When he was 25, Huckabee moved back to Hope with plans to run for office, but those plans were delayed when he agreed to serve as an interim pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Ark. Though he started as a fill-in for the regular pastor, Huckabee was asked to stay on as an interim pastor and later became the pastor. After serving for six years, he was invited to lead the congregation at the Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Ark. Huckabee was elected the youngest-ever president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in 1989.
In 1992, Huckabee decided to return to his original goal of running for office. He left his position with the church and ran for the U.S. Senate. While he lost that campaign, he won an election in 1993 to become the lieutenant governor of Arkansas. In 1996 he became the governor when his predecessor resigned.
Huckabee now attends the Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock, Ark., a Baptist church that hecharacterizes as a “multicultural, multiracial congregation, with rich and poor” and a focus to “minister to people who were otherwise neglected.” He plays the bass in the church’s band.
On The Issues
Abortion Huckabee is anti-abortion but says that some in the “pro-life community” put “undue focus on the gestation period” instead of caring for children throughout their lives. Huckabee has said that Roe v. Wade should be overturned but that its reversal would not eliminate abortion laws. “Some states would have very liberal abortion laws, other states would have very strict abortion laws,” he said. Compare McCain and Obama
Church and State Huckabee has said that his faith “explains” him and affects his decision-making process. He has said: “I’m not as troubled by a person who has a different faith. I’m troubled by a person who tells me their faith doesn’t influence their decisions.” He has said that the government “should have a hands-off attitude” toward religion, and he has called efforts to ban religious displays on public property “absurd.” Huckabee says he believes that the U.S. is “a nation of faith [but] it doesn’t necessarily have to be mine.” Compare McCain and Obama
Death Penalty Huckabee supports the death penalty. In his book, From Hope to Higher Ground, he described the death penalty as “a tough issue.” He wrote that he believes “some crimes deserve it, but that does not mean I like it.” He also described carrying out the death penalty as the worst part of his job as governor of Arkansas. In a December 2005 interview on PBS that he said that he has had to “carry out the death penalty more than any governor in the history of my state” and that “it is not something I’m proud of.” Compare McCain and Obama
Education While Huckabee says that he does not believe in evolution, he has no problem with schools teaching evolution as a theory. “We shouldn’t indoctrinate kids in school,” he has said, adding, “I wouldn’t want them teaching creationism as if it’s the only thing that they should teach.” Huckabee has said that if a family prays together outside of school, it doesn’t need to worry about whether children are allowed to pray in school. In response to questions about why he sent his children to public schools rather than religious private schools, he said that he felt it was not the schools’ job to teach his children how to pray. In response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Huckabeeproclaimed a “Student Religious Liberty Month” in Arkansas and encouraged students to “turn to their faith and pray.” Compare McCain and Obama
Environment Huckabee says that “there may be” a human role in climate change and that protecting the environment is a “spiritual issue.” He also says that “our responsibility to God means that we have to be good stewards of this Earth, be good caretakers of the natural resources that don’t belong to us; we just get to use them.” He favors working toward alternative energy sources and American energy independence. Compare McCain and Obama
Faith-Based Initiatives Huckabee created the Governor’s Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives in Arkansas in 2004. He also issued an executive order forcing Arkansas compliance with federal “Charitable Choice” laws in order to allow faith-based organizations to compete for funds from state agencies. Compare McCain and Obama
Gay Marriage Huckabee opposes gay marriage. When asked if he believes that homosexuality is immoral, hesaid, “That’s their business [but I] don’t agree with it.” He believes in a traditional definition of marriage where “the rules are one man, one woman for life.” While he says that “people have a right to decide how they live their lives,” he also believes that “they have to respect not changing the definition of marriage.” Compare McCain and Obama
Health Care After losing more than 100 pounds in two years while he was governor of Arkansas, Huckabee focused on eliminating obesity and improving public health. Huckabee calls the American health care system “irreparably broken” and calls for more preventative care. He is against universal health insurance coverage and says that the U.S. needs a system “where there are incentives for healthy behavior and for management of one’s health-care expenses.” While governor, Huckabeecreated the ARKids First program to provide health insurance for many uninsured children. Compare McCain and Obama
Immigration Huckabee says that he does not believe in amnesty for illegal immigrants in the U.S. “There does need to be restitution and a way to make sure they don’t jump in front of people who have been trying to get into the country legally,” he says. He has also said: “There is a need for people who will do jobs after our citizens have had first crack at them.” Huckabee favors increased border security. “I’ve never really worried about someone slipping across the border to pluck chickens or pick tomatoes or make beds, but it does worry me that somebody could also slip across the border with a shoulder-fired missile launcher,” he said. Huckabee also has spoken out against what he calls “sanctuary cities.” Compare McCain and Obama
Iraq War Huckabee says the war in Iraq is part of a “World War III” against Islamic fascism, which hedescribes as “a perversion of Islam.” He said that President Bush’s 2007 plan to increase troop levels in Iraq should be given a chance to work, adding, “I’m going to have to trust the people over there sucking that sand into their lungs and putting their boots on the ground every day.” Huckabee favors gradually transferring power to the Iraqi government, though not on a timetable. Compare McCain and Obama
Poverty Huckabee says one of his priorities is to address poverty because it’s “consistent with me being pro-life.” He calls his desire to fight poverty a “faith position” rather than a political position. Hesays that it is impossible to address poverty without prioritizing stable homes and families, which he sees as “critical economic issues.” Compare McCain and Obama
Stem Cell Research Huckabee supports research on existing stem cell lines but does not believe in “creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it.” He says that embryonic stem cell research may not be necessary “because recent discoveries have shown that stem cells from the umbilical cord may in fact be as useful as the embryonic stem cells that were previously created.” Compare McCain and Obama
Cite this publication: Benjamin Wormald. “Religion and Politics ’08: Mike Huckabee.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (November 4, 2008) http://www.pewforum.org/2008/11/04/religion-and-politics-08-mike-huckabee/, accessed on July 22, 2014.