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Mike Huckabee's Conveniently Missing Sermons

March 19, 2008

After Barack Obama himself, no politician in America may have had a greater stake in Obama's critical speech on race yesterday than former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The former Baptist minister, after all, hasn't been shy about his interest in being John McCain's choice for vice president. Like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Huckabee's closet of sermons may be full of skeletons. Which may just explain why minister Huckabee was quick to defend Obama today, and even quicker to ensure that records of his own past sermons were nowhere to be found.
Appearing on Joe Scarborough's show this morning, Huckabee gave Obama the benefit of the doubt and offered the appearance of understanding the painful legacy of the civil rights struggle:

"[Obama] made the point, and I think it's a valid one, that you can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do. You just can't. Whether it's me, whether it's Obama...anybody else. But he did distance himself from the very vitriolic statements...
...Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Reverend Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say 'Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that.'"

That may be. But as the history shows, just to be on the safe side, Mike Huckabee apparently made sure his own past sermons would not be available to the public.
Back in December, Governor Huckabee dared the media to dredge up his past, declaring, "Nobody's going to find some YouTube moments of me saying something radically different than what I'm saying today." Writing in Mother Jones, David Corn and Jonathan Stein took Huckabee up on his challenge ad asked the campaign for copies of his sermons from his days as a pastor at two Baptist churches. Unsurprisingly, they hit a brick wall:

Before beginning his political career, Huckabee was a Southern Baptist minister for 12 years in his home state of Arkansas. He assumed the pastorate at Immanuel Baptist Church in the town of Pine Bluff in 1980, at the age of 25. Six years later, he moved to Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana...
...When asked for copies of the sermons Huckabee delivered at Immanuel Church, an employee there claimed none could be found. A Beech Street Church pastor's assistant maintained that much of the archival material from Huckabee's tenure as pastor had been destroyed during a remodeling. The rest, she said, was not available to the press.
When Mother Jones contacted the Huckabee campaign and asked if it would help make his previous sermons available, the campaign replied in a one-sentence email that it had received multiple requests for such material and was "not able to accommodate" them.

Apparently, Mike Huckabee believes Americans should see no evil from his days in the pulpit.
Which is not to say candidate Huckabee didn't offer Americans a treasure trove of clues as to what might be found in the conveniently missing sermons. For example, in his vituperative declaration of culture war tome, Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence, Huckabee laid virtually of all of America's ills at the feet of everyone - and everything - he hates:

"Despite all our prosperity, pomp, and power, the vaunted American experiment in liberty seems to be disintegrating before our very eyes."
"Abortion, environmentalism, AIDS, pornography, drug abuse, and homosexual activism have fragmented and polarized our communities."
"It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations - from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia."

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Governor Huckabee returned to the pulpit in a Granite State church to reprise his 1998 call to "take this nation back for Christ." Given his own lack of military service, Huckabee ironically exhorted the congregants to become "soldiers for Christ" in "God's Army." Just days later, Huckabee declared his personal crusade to amend the Constitution by copying and pasting from the Bible:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And thats what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."

Those words, needless to say, eviscerated Huckabee's pretense of upholding the separation of church and state. In December, Governor Huckabee offered this charade on Meet the Press, words which obviously are no longer operative:

"The key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone. And never would I want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict."

To his credit, Mike Huckabee this morning showed empathy for the suffering of African-Americans under the yoke of slavery and Jim Crow. He also seemed quite willing to cut Reverend Wright a great deal of slack for irredeemable statements contained in incendiary sermons past. But given his own history and the stakes in the Republican VP derby to come, Mike Huckabee's deference isn't surprising at all.
For more background on Mike Huckabee's extremist past and present, see:

  • "Top 10 Moments in Mike Huckabee's Extremism"
  • "10 More Moments in Mike Huckabee's Extremism"
  • "Yet Another 10 Moments in Mike Huckabee's Extremism"
  • One comment on “Mike Huckabee's Conveniently Missing Sermons”

    1. I'm sorry but what exactly does a sermon from 25 years ago have anything to do with the here and now? If this is important to you and others, then should we not be fair and also ask for transcripts from when Romney was Bishop and Stake President of the Mormon faith? Seems logical to me. Or perhaps we should ask to see all the inter-company memos that circulated through Bain Capital when Romney was in charge? That should be interesting.


    Jon Perr
    Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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