"The Bible was not written to be amended. The Constitution was," Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday, announcing his intention to amend the document if he were to be elected president in November to ban abortion and establish that life begins at the moment of conception.
He also said, "I don't think that's a radical view, to say we're going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal," he added in an interview on Beliefnet.com.
Outlandish as it is to proclaim the rights of the one-third of American women who've had abortions and the millions of Americans who are gay, lesbian, bi or transgender, to be unconstitutional, the fact that he said the Bible was not written to be amended is what makes his argument most ludicrous. His comments about marrying animals and children so over the edge of fringe wing-nuttery that they don't even deserve argument.
The Bible, as we know it today, is the product of numerous edits, deletions, changes, compromises, and politics that reflected the time, and the people, doing the editing. The Council of Nicaea removed many competing Biblical texts, some written by women and many with far more favorable views of women. The first council was three hundred years after Christ's birth, and was a political debate about whose version of Christianity was going to rule. The Council produced the Nicene Creed, a version is still recited by many Christians today, having been edited and amended during the past 1700 years. There are many other sites devoted to theological discussion where people can learn all they choose, but to suggest that the Bible has not changed through its many languages, translations, cultural histories, and politicized efforts to use it for one group to control another is, to quote Bill Clinton, pure fantasy. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940's brought this truth to light better than any other single event in human history.
The theological case that Gov. Huckabee premises his campaign on also fails to take into account the millions of Americans who look to other sacred texts to inform their lives, values and faith. The Koran, Upanishads, and Bagvad-Gita are just a few.
But let's get back to the Constitution, the articles of faith that govern the U.S. and the proper focus for a political debate, acknowledging that all people are created equal. Huckabee says, "people sometimes say we shouldn’t have a human life amendment or a marriage amendment because the Constitution is far too sacred to change, and my point is, the Constitution was created as a document that could be changed. That’s the genius of it."
How does he reconcile that with those who argue for "strict constructionist" readings of the Constitution? On the point of the flexibility of the Constitution, a very Jeffersonian view, I actually think Huckabee is right, though disagree with the changes he would make to ensure women were subjugated, people of differing faiths left voiceless, and gay people treated as less than full citizens.
If Gov. Huckabee's Theocracy First campaign cannot even acknowledge the truth of the Bible's history and many interpretations, how can he be trusted to govern a nation founded on a Constitution that assured religious freedom for all people, its genius found in the authors' faith that the rights of all people would evolve from this document, since the politics of that time required compromise.
Huckabee says he often thinks about Proverbs 15:1, "a soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger." Could his words be any more harsh to women, gays, people of different faiths? The purpose of prayer, meditation and humility in matters of faith is a recognition that we as humans don't have all the answers. It is precisely the belief by social conservatives like Huckabee that they do have all the answers that should frighten many people, especially people of faith.
The battle right now for the heart and soul of the GOP will determine if the Theocrats complete their generation long campaign to own the GOP brand. To date they've lived in an uncomfortable alliance with fiscal conservatives. Mike Huckabee is their man and in a party as divided as is the GOP, he could prevail or at least gather enough support to be forced onto the ticket at the convention.
Huckabee is a likable, smooth-talking preacher, that cannot be ignored. The problem is his faith is not informing his decisions, but his politics is dictating his faith. That was the problem at the Council of Nicaea, and has been a problem ever since, as some politicians have always tried to use religious texts to subjugate and control those who don't believe as they do.