An inconvenient question:
Tyler Overman: Hi. This is Tyler Overman from Memphis, Tennessee. And I have a quick question for those of you who would call yourselves Christian conservatives. The death penalty, what would Jesus do?
The question came up during the November 28, 2007, Republican YouTube debate on CNN.
Not too surprisingly, the question was handled like one would a hot potato by Governor Huckabee. Like any well-groomed politician is now trained to do, the Candidate eventually spun the query into another question he felt more comfortable with:
There are those who say, "How can you be pro-life and believe in the death penalty?"
Which, while not answering the question, had, at least, the clarity of defining Governor Huckabee as an unapologetic supporter of the Death Penalty:
Because there's a real difference between the process of adjudication, where a person is deemed guilty after a thorough judicial process and is put to death by all of us, as citizens, under a law, as opposed to an individual making a decision to terminate a life that has never been deemed guilty because the life never was given a chance to even exist.
But Governor Huckabee did dodge the original question, a fact that didn’t escape the notice of the moderator, Anderson Cooper, who tossed the original question back to the Governor:
Cooper: I do have to though press the question, which -- the question was, from the viewer was: What would Jesus do? Would Jesus support the death penalty?
Huckabee: Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do.
This posting from The Fix (the Washington Post's main political blog) says it all:
"Sadly, the press marveled at yet another non-answer to a question about a serious issue. The question was intended to be a request for a Christianity-based stance on the morality of the death penalty, not a set-up for a one-liner."
One or more of those three forms of execution depicted on the above images is or are deemed unchristian. Which one(s), dear reader? The first one? The second? The third? All of the above? None of the above?
Yes, Governor, Jesus never ran for public office. That’s the whole point; Jesus never ran for public office, but, YOU, Governor, have been, and are presently, running for public office (the highest public office of them all), and therefore, that question from Tyler Overman from Memphis, Tennessee, was addressed to YOU, Governor.
Very relevantly so.
How do you, Governor Huckabee, reconcile your political stand with regard to the death penalty with your Christian faith? And how, by extension, does, for that matter, the religious right – which has been very active politically in this country – reconcile its political stand with regard to the death penalty with what Jesus is preaching in the New Testament.
This was what that inconvenient question from Tyler Overman from Memphis, Tennessee, was about, Governor. But you knew that, of course.
The religious right, who brought the Bush administration to power, likes to preach from the Bible (mostly the old Testament) where and when it finds it politically convenient, and, yet, it becomes oddly silent on some of those very issues about which Jesus is the most vocal in the New Testament, and in particular in his Sermon on the Mount.
You’re right, Governor, Jesus would not have run for office, but, you know, Governor, I don’t believe that Jesus would have dodged that question either. But, then, as you rightly pointed out, Jesus was not a politician – unlike you, Mr. Huckabee.
But to be fair to the governor, he is not running for President as a pastor, of course, but as a politician…
Or is he, now?
Hard to tell, as just only a few weeks ago (10/20/07), speaking at the Family Research Council's Washington Values Voter Summit, Huckabee compared himself to "the prophets of old, the ones who spoke truth to power."
"Don't ever let expediency or electability replace our principles," Huckabee urged the crowd.
Governor Huckabee also expressed his concern that "some of the evangelical leaders seem to be less committed to the principles that got them involved in politics in the first place, and more into the politics than the principles." He observed that "when you cease becoming clear about who you are, and what you're about, you really just become another Republican interest group."
I couldn’t agree more, Governor.
Posted by Tom Bombadil on 12/02/2007