Sunday, December 30, 2007

Separation of Church and State of Mind

On Meet the Press today, Mike Huckabee answered a question about punishing doctors for performing abortions: "I think if a doctor knowingly took the life of an unborn child for money, and that's why he was doing it, yeah, I think you would, you would find some way to sanction that doctor. I don't know that you'd put him in prison, but..."

After protestations that he would never "use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict" others, Huckabee undermines that reassurance by saying he would ban all abortions "not just because I'm a Christian, that's because I'm an American," thereby consigning all those who don't agree that life begins at conception to the same status he gives illegal immigrants.

Therein lies the danger of Huckabee to the separation of church and state--that as a man whose faith "really defines me," his definition of issues would erase that traditional line without acknowledging it as all previous presidents have scrupulously done.

Even George Bush's fake piety, used by Karl Rove to swindle the Religious Right, never extended that far. Banning gay marriage disappeared as an issue right after the elections.

Commendably, Huckabee reassured Tim Russert he would include atheists in his White House, but the Constitution requires the President to be more than smoothly tolerant of others' beliefs or lack of them. If he is nominated by Republicans, whether or not Mike Huckabee understands that will be one of the main issues in 2008.

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