Rational fears are not phobias, Mike Huckabee

I just read a very good post at another WordPress Blog called, simply, kip.

In tear down this wall!, kip addresses a Mike Huckabee assertion of Christophobia, which refers to the fear of a public official discussing his/her (probably his) Christianity. As kip points out, a phobia is an irrational fear. We have clearly gotten to the point where the fear of a US politician’s Christian views affecting their decision making is rational. To call this fear a phobia would be like calling a fearful person in a room where the walls are closing in a claustrophobic. And this goes especially for Huckabee. As kip describes,

this is the person who wants to teach our kids that God created the universe in six days, that women must be submissive, and “abstinence only” sex education. Remember, this is the person who refused to sign a disaster relief bill until legislators removed the words “acts of God” to describe tornadoes because he argued that God was protecting people from tornadoes, not causing them. Remember, this is the person who in 1999, explaining a decision to reduce the sentence of a man on death row to life in prison, said: “I am fully aware of the likely reaction to this decision and further realize the gravity of such a decision. But I must stand ultimately before God and account for my decision. I’d rather face the anger of people than the anger of God.”

What would happen if the Almighty told him to nuke Iran?

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Comments
14 Responses to “Rational fears are not phobias, Mike Huckabee”
  1. Colin says:

    Ron,

    I just spent an hour or so reading parts of your blog and am looking forward to being a regular visitor.

    You have embarked on an ambitious project and I sincerely hope that the discourse stays rational and civil.

    Cheers.

    Colin

  2. Jeff Marshman says:

    Hmm, going to have to side with Huckabee on that one.

    Sure, there are some crazy… CRAZY Christians out there.
    But, saying fear of christian people is rational? That strikes me as akin to saying fear of the ‘Jewish-hand in-your-pocket’ is rational, and that fear of the collapse of society and industry from woman’s suffrage is rational.

    Just because Nietzsche was cool and had an astounding moustache, does not mean that he was accurate in blaming all of the woes of western society on Christianity.

  3. Jeff Marshman says:

    Also, criticizing him because his Christian morals lead him to believe that execution was NOT the right course of action?

    I’d rather have a Christian with a well-developed and deliberate code of ethics in charge than some relativist lunatic who thinks that his goal is to eliminate people of a religious orientation.

  4. horatiox says:

    Americans should regard those politicians who base their political decisions on Scripture with a great deal of skepticism. At the same time we should fear politicians who base their political decisions on the Koran, or Marx’s Capital, or the wit and wisdom of Orpah Winfrey with a great deal of skepticism. Huckabee might be slightly alarming–nearly as much as Boy Obama is.

  5. Colin says:

    Here is the true message of the Bible as taught by Jesus…love your neighbour as yourself, love your enemies, feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, care for the sick, look after widows and orphans…etc. Jesus turned the social order upside down. His life and actions demonstrated a very high view of women and children, especially the destitute. When confronted with a woman caught in adultery (punishable by death), he said “Where is the dude? If anyone here hasn’t been banging chicks for the heck of it, let them be the first to crack her head open with a rock.” When the chick-banging dudes all left, he helped her up and forgave her. Pretty judgmental, eh!

    Fear of such things is irrational.

    If you are going to criticize Christianity, you should at least base your critique on what the Bible really teaches, not on what you read from Dawkins, Harris or Hutchens and not on the straw men that you have been setting up here.

  6. ronbrown says:

    Jeff: There’s some miscommunication of beliefs going on here. I’m not advocating fear of Christians at all. But consider the context of the issue. Mike Huckabee IS a very FAR RIGHT CHRISTIAN running for REPUBLICAN leadership for the PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES. When was the last time we saw a far right Christian (or someone who was at least doing the will of these people) run for lead of the Republican Party in order to vie for Presidency? Over the past 7 years we have seen how many defilings of the US Constitution? How many millions spent on faith-based initiatives? How much valuable stem cell research has been thwarted? How much terrible sex ed for children via the proven ineffective abstinence-only sex ed?

    Who was the last Christian right President before Bush? It was Bush Sr. One his more memorable quotes was when he said that he did not think that atheists were true Americans, because America is one nation under God.

    Also, consider this. The US Supreme Court, which has 9 seats, is seated by 4 Christian Conservatives. If just ONE liberal person on the bench steps down and there is a Conservative Christian President at the time the highest court in the land will comprise a Christian Conservative majority! The biggest authority in America when it comes to determining what is legal and what is not (say, for instance, abortion and gay marriage) will be run fundamentalist Christians. Now yes, there would be checks and balances, and they wouldn’t be able to just say on their first Monday in session that gay marriage and abortion are both banned, but this seat switch nonetheless could result in the focus in America be shifted for many years toward debating these sorts of issues, and some of them may very well come to pass. People talk about an American theocracy. Imagine how much talk there would be if the nation’s President was a Conservative Christian and the majority on the Supreme Court were, too?

    To conclude I’ll say once more that I am not at all advocating for a generalized fear of Christians. And obviously I would much rather have a liberal Christian as President—or in our case, Prime Minister—than an Atheist that would do more harm and less good than the Christian.

  7. ronbrown says:

    Colin: Please see my reply to Jeff. As I mentioned there, this is really a very big misunderstanding.

    I’ve heard a number of times from various people that the words of Christ are hardly recognizeable in the words and actions of today’s American Christian fundamentalist. I’ve heard one comedian say that today’s fundamentalists would not elect Jesus for President because they’d never vote in a liberal long-haired hippie Jew!

    Anyhow, all misunderstandings aside, I do have a question for you. And please don’t take this as antagonistic, but simply as genuine curiosity. While I’ve heard many people quote Jesus’ very positive, progressive and heart-warming episodes such as that which you described above. But I have also heard of such things as Jesus saying that the law is still the law—with the implication, it is suggested, being that at least some of the OT still applies. And of course I’ve heard the quote in which Jesus is said to have said that he brings the sword.

    Can you give me a balanced interpretation of this?

    I’m not saying that I think that Jesus was ultimately a tyrant or anything like that. Not at all. If he was then it would be a lot harder for a person to be a literate Christian and be liberal. And clearly there are plenty of liberal Christians who make genuine efforts to live like Jesus at least a little bit—this, by the way, is not a cut at Christians, it’s just a remark that most people these days don’t seem to be doing too much charity work and other such prosocial things. I know that a lot of such work does get done, but I would imagine that the percentage of people–Christian or otherwise–that make anything beyond the most trivial of sacrifices for others is quite low.

  8. ronbrown says:

    Jeff: I forgot one thing in my reply above. Regarding Huck getting the criminal out of execution. Here’s my understanding of this based on my having read probably about a month ago the original Huffington Post article on this issue. The criminal was a serial rapist and killer. He had done some of the most horrible things, such as having raped a mother while holding a butcher’s knife to her throat right in front of her 3 year old daughter who lay mere feet away from them on the same bed! This was just one of the victims. When Huckabee was considering letting him out of execution and letting him go free, he received numerous communications from a number of his victims emploring Huckabee to not let him free out of fear for their safety and that of others. These victims were in great fear that he would attack again–them as well as others. Huck let him out and he raped and killed another woman.

    It is believed by at least some that Huck was trying to get the guy off in good part because some Christian Conservatives who voted Huck in wanted his sentence commuted as they thought that Bill Clinton had pulled strings to get him put on death row. Why? Because one of the rapist-killer’s victims was a distant cousin of Clinton.

    Since all of this became public knowledge, Huck has said that he had no foreknowledge that this many-times-over rapist and killer posed a danger to others if let into the community. After he had said this it was discovered that during the time when he was pressing to have the man’s sentence commuted he had been sent letters from a number of the man’s past victims whom he hadn’t killed, begging him not to let man out as they greatly feared more attacks. I’m not saying that these women necessarily could know whether he was going to attack again, but when Huckabee receives numerous fearful letters from victims of a serial killer and rapist, I don’t think its honest to deny that you had reason to believe that letting him out was a huge risk.

  9. Colin says:

    Ron,

    I agree that the Words of Jesus is pretty much gone from many Christians today, and that sucks. My only rejoinder is that a person should not judge Christianity on the actions of its adherents, but on the life and teachings of Jesus.

    The passage about the law is in Matthew 5:

    “17”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    The Law was given as part of God’s progressive revelation of himself to the nation of Israel. It was intended to show that no man is capable of keeping the law.

    Matthew 5 continues…

    “21”You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother[b]will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,[c]’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

    Jesus really ups the ante here. He says that if you are angry with your brother, you are pretty much guilty of murder.

    The intent is to teach that God is holy and that we are incapable of keeping the law. Kinda depressing. But it also points to our need of help which came in the form of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. So there is hope.

    So, yes the OT still applies, every bit of it. And we are incapable of living up to the standard required. BUT the one who is the standard also provides the way for us to meet the standard.

    You should never read a Bible verse. You should always read the Bible with the whole teaching of the bible in mind. That is why so many people get sidetracked by verses which seem to teach barbaric things.

    I will have to get back to you on Jesus bringing the sword, you can find it in Matthew 10. I would be interested to hear your take on it when you read it within the context of the rest of Matthew 10. The easiest access is at http://www.biblegateway.com .

    BTW, my intent was not to sound like a preacher-man in this response, I hope that comes through.

    Cheers,
    Colin

  10. ronbrown says:

    Colin:

    Firstly, no, you’re not coming off as a preacher, but as a well-intentioned person simply defending his position.

    I shall surely remember the position you just presented, that the OT does apply but that we are not expected to be uphold it in a complete sense–it is not assumed that we really could in a complete sense–and that this makes Jesus all the more necessary for humans.

    Here’s a question which I am also currently asking about Islam, but will offer to you with regards to Christianity. As you well know and alluded to above, there are any number of ways that a person can interpret the Bible or Qur’an. They can interpret it in the positive liberal be good to your neighbour, love others like yourself, judge les ye be judged, and so on, and they can also interpret it as people like Pat Robertson, Falwell, and the Westborough Baptist Church (godhatesfags) interpret it. I’m wondering what types of things you think can lead people to view it in one way or the other.

    Some ideas I have are:

    1) The obvious point that people will get out the Bible what they want to get out of it to a reasonable degree. If they are inclined toward anger with respect to nonwhites, gays, and so on, or are made to feel to destabilized by changing with modern culture, away from their traditional routes, then they could have a mindset that predisposes them to pay more attention to the more punitive aspects of their religious text.

    2) This idea is more my own, though inspired by hearing talks by Chris Hedges, author of “American Fascists”, in which he argues that the Christian Fundamentalist movement is perhaps the most dangerous movement in the country’s history. The idea here is that, as Hedges points out, when people feel disenfranchised or marginalized by society, and feel a lack of hope and purpose in secular domains, they look for social acceptance and support, hope and purpose elsewhere, where people will accept them regardless of whether they’re poor, a minority, or whatever. Often this means going to a church. Some will go to the more rightwing churches. In the rightwing churches in which many members have been marginalized by society or have removed themselves from society they depend on their fellow congregationalists a lot–for bolstering of their beliefs, community, acceptance, support, meaning, etc. Because these people have so much invested in their religious community—putting a lot of their eggs in one basket—defection from the group by others could be perceived as a relatively significant threat, compared to people who have rich and diverse lives with many sources of positivity, collectivism and meaning. Consequently, there may be a social drive toward religious extremism as a way of emphasizing everyone’s commitment to the group and its shared beliefs, which together are represent pretty much everything that is keeping these people stable.

    This is not by any means a scientific or deeply researched theory. Just throwing it out there.

    Ron

  11. Colin says:

    Regarding your question about interpretation…

    NEVER read a Bible verse. People like the wackos at Westborough get into trouble when they pull a verse out of context and latch onto it.

    It is critical to interpret scripture in light of scripture. We figure out the meaning of confusing passges by reading and understanding clear passages. Sometimes, the Bible is very clear about a teaching. Sometimes it is not, or it is even silent. We must understand the less clear teachings in light of the clear teachings.

    One thing that is crystal clear in Jesus’ teachings and his life and throughout the Bible is that every person has value, that we ought to love our neighbours (that is easy) and our enemies (much more difficult), that we ought to care for the poor, sick, imprisoned etc.

    It is also clear that God does not tolerate sin. Lets use gossip as an example. Gossip is specifically included in a list of sins along with murder in Romans 1. So how do we reconcile these two teachings? How should we treat gossips in our midst?

    You take a look at what the whole of scripture teaches. If the folks at westborough were consistent in their views, they would be equally harsh to the gossips in their midst. That is not likely to happen.

    You take a look at Jesus’ example. How did he interact with ‘sinners’. As I mentioned about the woman caught in adultery (John 8), he extended grace, he ate and drank with tax-collectors (on par with pedophiles today) and he went so far as to sacrifice his own life for them (us).

    I think my answer would be in pretty close agreement with your first point above. People understand the Bible the way they want to understand it. When they do that, very bad things happen (crusades, westborough, killing abortion doctors, Mathew Shepard etc). These things are not what God intends, nor are they what Classical Christianity teaches.

    A question for you…

    How did Jesus interact with the established ‘church’ (the pharisees) of his time?

  12. ronbrown says:

    Colin:

    Do you have any speculations as to what sorts of factors could lead people to be like the westborough baptist people? From what I gather, it seems that you’re from Canada and so many not know much or any more than I do about society in the American south and midwest, but perhaps being religious yourself you might be able to empathize better than I when it comes to how certain life circumstances can affect your relationship to your religious community and the nature of your beliefs. And of course perhaps you are just as perplexed as I—my speculatatory theory above was a little stab I made at the question.

    As for your question, wasn’t Jesus anti-church? Wasn’t he all about praying alone and against church authority?

  13. Colin says:

    I am completely disgusted with Phelps and his ilk at Westborough. They are where they are because they chose to be there.

    Jesus talked about hell a few times. When he did, he was talking to the pharisees (religious leaders) about their lives. His harshest criticism was reserved for the pharisees. Jesus was no Captain Kangaroo or Mister Rogers. I think you would like him.

  14. ronbrown says:

    I may very well like Jesus—I’m certain that I’ll like at least some of what he’s had to say.

    As for WBC, any speculation as to why they chose to be there, though. As I mentioned earlier, I’m curious as to what makes certain people interpret scripture one way versus another (e.g., in a humanitarian sense or a tyrannical barbaric sense). The sorts of sociological factors and such.

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