Former AR Governor, GOP Presidential Candidate, Fox 'News' Host Must Take Responsibility for Murder of Four Police Officers
'How many more godly goofs can this country afford?'
By Frank Schaeffer on 12/1/2009, 8:34am PT  

Guest Editorial by Frank Schaeffer

Mike Huckabee broke his silence on Monday and defended his decision to give clemency to a convict said to be responsible for the ambush murder of four Seattle police officers. I have an odd connection to Huckabee. He told Katie Couric, during the 2007 primary race, that my Religious Right leader father's (Francis Schaeffer) book, How Should We Then Live?, was his favorite book. The book is credited (along with others my father wrote) for starting the evangelical wing of the anti-abortion movement.

In Huckabee’s more than 1000 pardons of criminals that prosecutors and victims objected to in Arkansas Huckabee most often cited his belief in “redemption” as his "reason." This belief was a result of Huckabee’s extreme and literal born-again fundamentalist views about people’s path to God. His religious views obviously trumped common sense. And this was a direct result of a theology known as "Dominionism" (or "Reconstructionism") where believers want to not just believe their religion privately but "take back America for God" in other words rule on the basis not of American law but the Bible. I explain this trend in my book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).

Huckabee freely mixes his ideas about church and state and how religion should shape policy. That brings up a question: should any religious fundamentalists ever be elected President by Americans who want them to do a good, sensible, moderate job, not use their office for expression of their pet religious fanaticism? And another: wasn't one already more than enough?...

It seems to me that Huckabee’s absurd record of unwarranted pardons of dangerous criminals including killers and rapists is just another example proving that the heart of the Republican Party is now in the hands of religious extremists. (Jeff Sharlet makes the same point in his excellent book The Family, as does Max Blumenthal in his book Republican Gomorrah).

We have heard Sarah Palin saying that health care reform will lead to “death panels.” We had George W. Bush saying that he felt God was leading him to go to war in Iraq. We have Christian Zionists like Rev. John Hagee rooting for Armageddon in the Middle East so Jesus will return all the sooner and then endorsing figures like John McCain --- who until called out on Hagee’s crazy anti-Catholicism --- accepted the endorsement!

And now four police officers are dead because Huckabee (the not-so-covert Reconstructionist) takes every word of the Bible more seriously than the advice of prosecutors and victim rights groups.

As today's New York Times noted in "Old Clemency May Be Issue for Huckabee":

Mr. Huckabee, now a Fox News talk-show host, has been leading the pack of possible Republican contenders for president in 2012. But the killings of the police officers are focusing renewed attention on his long-contentious record of pardoning convicts or commuting their sentences.

In a decade as governor beginning in 1996, Mr. Huckabee did so twice as many times as his three predecessors combined. He typically gave little explanation for individual pardons. But he spoke often of his belief in redemption, based on a strong religious belief...

The commutation of Mr. Clemmons’s [the alleged Seattle cop killer] sentence was routine enough that it failed to make a list of Mr. Huckabee’s 10 “most publicized” prison commutations compiled by an Arkansas newspaper in August 2004... Within six months, Mr. Clemmons violated the conditions of his parole, returning to prison in July 2001 for aggravated robbery...

Mr. Huckabee, who rode a brand of prairie populism to finish second in the Republican presidential primaries in 2008, granted more than 1,000 pardons or clemency requests as governor. As his reputation for granting clemency spread, more convicts applied...in several, he followed recommendations for clemency from Baptist preachers who had been longtime supporters.

Prosecutors told him he was ignoring his responsibility to explain to citizens why he was setting free convicted murderers and rapists...

Robert Herzfeld, then the prosecuting attorney of Saline County, wrote a letter to Governor Huckabee in January 2004, saying his policy on clemency was “fatally flawed”.... Mr. Huckabee’s chief aide on clemency wrote back: “The governor read your letter and laughed out loud. He wanted me to respond to you. I wish you success as you cut down on your caffeine consumption."

It is clear that Huckabee is unfit for any national office and was unfit to ever be a governor. It is also clear that his record of insane irresponsibility was well known by the evangelicals that supported him for theological reasons in the 2007 primaries leading up to the '08 race.

Clearly the evangelical crowd that gave us 8 years of George W. Bush doesn’t vote on the basis of facts. They vote for “correct” theology and damn the real world consequences.

Four thousand Americans were needlessly killed in Iraq because the born-again, born again’s president was in control. More that 50,000 were wounded because of the way Bush thought he heard God’s voice. Four officers in Seattle are dead today because of Huckabee’s allegiance to his interpretation of the Bible rather than to the U.S. Constitution.

How many more godly goofs can this country afford?

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Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).

His previous articles at The BRAD BLOG can be read here...