The deadly danger of Christian forgiveness 2

The good news that the Democrats are dropping rapidly in voters’ approval is tempered for us by the bad news that of  the visible Republican 2012 presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee heads the list. We see him as good-natured but dangerously naive. His religious belief is as ingenuous as that of a small child. True, Sarah Palin’s is too, but she has many qualities that made her a strong governor and could make her an effective future leader.

A former member of Huckabee’s 2008 campaign, Joe Carter, confirms our view of him. Slightly to our surprise we found this at First Things, a Christian site:

The tragic murders of four policemen in Washington State, quickly turned into a political story when it was discovered that former governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had previously commuted the sentence of the gunman [Maurice Clemmons], making him eligible for parole.

Normally, I wouldn’t have much to say on such story. But because I have some familiarity with the backstory — I worked for a brief time for the Huckabee campaign — and because it has implications for the role of religion in politics, I thought it might be worth sharing my perspective.

Reflections on a politician by former campaign staffers should always be taken cum grano salis. This is no exception. While I’m still a fan of the governor I don’t believe he — nor anyone else from the 2008 primary season (from Palin to Romney to Giuliani to Paul) — has any chance of ever becoming President. Because of this, I don’t feel the need to either defend or condemn him. While the tragic chain of events that were set in place by his signing commutations are not entirely — or even primarily — the fault of the governor, he must bear a sufficient measure of responsibility. …

On the issue of clemency, commutations, and pardons. … Other governors with their sights set on higher offices had learned that doing nothing — even to correct obvious instances of injustice — was unlikely to cause any long-term political damage. Keeping an innocent man in prison is less harmful to an ambitious politician than freeing someone who may commit other crimes.

Huckabee would certainly discover this political reality the hard way. Initially, I chalked it up solely to extraordinary political courage. Later, I tempered this view when I realized that this courage was mixed with a large dose of cluelessness. The governor seemed genuinely surprised that he was held responsible for the criminal acts committed by those whose sentences he had commuted as governor. It was as if he believed that simply having noble intentions and a willingness to make tough decisions would provide political cover. The notion that he should be accountable for future crimes committed by these men seemed as foreign to him as the idea that he should refuse all leniency.

His naivete about how his actions would be judged was compounded by his own belief in the nobleness of his motives. Huckabee was — and likely remains — a true believer in the concept of restorative justice.

Judging from the records, the governor also seemed to put a lot of weight on conversion stories — a common trait among evangelicals, who believe the gospel is sufficient for restoration and redemption of character. The opinion of clergy appears to have carried a great deal of weight in the decision-making process. …

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  • aeschines

    No kidding. Christianity's focus on redeeming the “prodigal” son instead of celebrating those who do not engage in such evil is disgusting.

    Too bad you couldn't have found a more damning piece about him. The guy in the article (Joe Carter) seems to go too soft on him. “While I’m still a fan of the governor, ” – really?
    Apparently, not only do Christians enjoy celebrating the prodigal son, they also tend to cover each other's asses.

    The quoted article made me as sick as when I heard how Huckabee released the killer in the first place. It doesn't even cover the fact that Huckabee released a lot of these criminals because of connections they (or their family members or friends) had to Huck's campaign.

    The incident reminded me of a Chick tract that I read a while back. See for yourself:
    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0037/0037_0

    This is the sort of attitude that people like Mike have. Disgusting.

  • bill

    Oh, spot on! The first thing I thought of was “Christian forgiveness” for why Huckabee let the guy out. And the murderer of those four policemen was not the only one Huckabee freed. He freed some other convict who later raped and murdered.

    This is why I am a militant atheist in the sense I do not respect Christianity one bit. I refuse to be allied with any Bible thumper. Yes I am a pro-defense capitalist, but I have seen enough Republicans talk the talk of Capitalism but be very satisfied and pacified when new social laws (based on Christianity) are passed and they are so happy they stop complaining about the faster gallop toward socialism.