Thursday, October 25, 2007

Huckabee's Theocratic Delusions

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee made a completely wacky statement during the recent FOX debate:
When our founding fathers put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence, those 56 brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen, they said that we have certain inalienable rights given to us by our creator, and among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, life being one of them. I still believe that.
Emphasis added. Well, perhaps Huckabee has a different definition of "clergyman" than the rest of us. Either that, or he has a radically different concept of the term "most". Or he's just flat-out wrong:

Only one of the 56 was an active clergyman, and that was John Witherspoon. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).

A few more of the signers were former clergymen, though it's a little unclear just how many. The conservative Heritage Foundation said two other signers were former clergymen. The religion web site Adherents.com said four signers of the declaration were current or former full-time preachers. But everyone agrees only Witherspoon was an active minister when he signed the Declaration of Independence.

So, does Huckabee actually believe that "most were clergymen", or was he just lying to pander to the audience? Where did he get that idea? Is this a common meme among Arkansas Republicans?

Christianist Americans make this kind of mistake all the time. They can't imagine that the Founding Fathers were anything but a bunch of Bible-thumping fundamentalist theocrats. They weren't. (Here's a table that attempts to list their religious affiliations. John Adams was a Unitarian, and Jefferson had Unitarian leanings.) But this fact doesn't fit in with the current Republican world view. So we get a constant stream of statements like Huckabee's. Republicans: trying to take America back to a mythical past that never existed. This nation has always been more interesting than the homogeneous fantasies of would-be theocrats.

While on the subject, I think I should remind Republicans that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Christian Socialist (gasp!) who had the good sense not to include "under God" in it, despite the fact that he was a Baptist minister (a real clergyman!). Yes, Christianity is a major theme in the history of our nation. But it isn't the only theme. Thank God.

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