An unholy trinity: God, guns and Mike Huckabee
Plenty of foolish excuses come out of the mouths of pro-gun advocates following tragedies like the recent massacre in Connecticut. However, nothing can hold a candle to Mike Huckabee, former Governor of that bastion of human progress – Arkansas, and a man who once sought the highest office in America.
He even outdid his own previous most ridiculous comment, namely that America would be better off if everyone was “forced at gunpoint to listen to every David Barton message”.
David Barton is an evangelical Christian conservative who argues that the separation of Church and State in the US Constitution is based on a historical porky. I would say he is the David Irving of American Constitutional History; a revisionist on the fringes of history academia, except he isn’t – he has no formal qualifications in either law or history. A stroll on his Wikipedia page tells me that his most recent book won an award as “the least credible history book in print.”
So what does Mike Huckabee’s David Barton fandom have to do with the gun control debate and the recent primary school massacre? Well, everything, it would appear. It certainly helps to make some sense of the verbal diarrhoea that flowed forth from Huckabee on Fox following the tragedy. Huckabee, a strident gun rights advocate, mused that the real problem was not ridiculously lax gun laws but…not enough God in our schools!
This is a comment that in no meaningful way takes on the considerable criticism levelled at the pro-gun lobby and the ideology it espouses in light of such a tragedy.
Furthermore Huckabee, like anyone who tacitly or overtly supports a closer involvement of the church in state business, is not really supporting what he thinks he’s supporting. When he talks about the systematic removal of “God” from our schools, he is not worried about the removal of just any old supernatural being(s); he is specifically referring to the removal of his God – the Christian God.
If he wishes the state to be involved in the teaching of his faith in schools, he must either support the same rights for Wahhabis and Scientologists or be forthright and explicit in the fact that he supports Christian theocracy. There are no other options.
Either all gods are taught in schools with state money, only the Christian god is taught in schools with state money (a necessary if not a sufficient condition for Christian theocracy), or we all accept that we no longer live in the epoch of the 30-Year-War and the Treaty of Westphalia and the state must protect religious freedom while staying entirely neutral on religious affairs, including having it in state funded schools.
He then goes on to say the equivalent of blah blah morals blah blah can’t be good without God. I hope I haven’t oversold his persuasive capabilities with my paraphrasing. There is more intellectual substance in a pile of yellow snow than in what he attempts to insinuate.
The full argument over the role of religion in morality is for another time. Sufficed to say that firstly, he certainly doesn’t get whatever morality he may or may not have from the Bible. If he didn’t cherry-pick the good stuff, he would be slaying all those who didn’t accept Jesus’ reign over them as the gentle Lamb of God himself commands in Luke 19:27.
Secondly, if his version of morality is ‘On second thoughts I won’t go on that killing spree to brighten up my Monday morning because God will see me and damn me to hell’ then we should never tell kids about Santa Claus’ true nature. That is not morality; it is fear of punishment and it fails to address the root cause of certain behaviour.
He saved the best piece of mental gymnastics for last. As the original question asked was about God letting this happen, Huckabee finished off with a triple somersault and landed on his face – or would have if anyone at Fox had wanted to probe the issue a little further. He pointed out that God did not do this, God was not armed, did not go to the school, and so on. Fair point.
But then, after letting God off so easily with the evil, he credits him with all the good! Notice that God will now be there in the form of hugs and positive therapy. In the words of Sam Harris when discussing a similar topic: “This is how you play tennis without the net”.
The basic contention, the crux of Huckabee’s ramble, is that religious instruction in schools is correlated with decreased violence. On this note I ask anyone reading to merely Google the latest news from the Holy Land, birthplace of the three monotheistic faiths - where the body of Abraham is laid to rest under bulletproof glass to stop Jews and Muslims shooting each other literally over the top of his dead body. God is in the schools there, I promise. As much as he was in the schools in former Yugoslavia when Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serbs massacred Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s.
Of course there is a bloody litany of offences in states that have enforced no religion in society as well; that is not the way forward either. But let’s not pretend that God in schools goes hand in hand with decreased violence.
The obfuscation of a gun lobbyist after such a tragedy is an understandable avoidance tactic. In this way you never have to look into the eyes of a grieving parent and tell them that a Constitutional Amendment dated 1791 is the reason their six-year-old is riddled with bullets. But that’s the reality. It may not be the only reality and there may be a more general, underlying problem with a culture of violence in America but the 2nd Amendment cannot be continually dismissed so casually as irrelevant.
It is infinitely more relevant than the increasing separation of church and state in America and until it becomes a more serious part of the debate amongst the Mike Huckabees of this world, we’ll keep seeing these travesties.
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