But not Mike Huckabee. He sounds more like he's running for Pope than President of the United States. It seems like faith is all he wants to talk about.
On Wednesday, for example, Huckabee astoundingly dissected President Barack Obama's faith, accusing him
of being a person who "pretends to be a Christian."
How does a person be a "pretend Christian," you may ask? Does he, say, talk about following Jesus' teaching about helping the poor even as he advocating making cuts to the programs that would help those people? (Like some Republicans have done: looking at Tennessee Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher who claims
the Bible and Jesus would support his call to cut food stamps program that help needy families eat.)
No, a Christian pretender, according to Huckabee,
is someone who "does things that makes it very difficult for people to practice their Christian faith."
He went on: "I'm less concerned about what faith the person has. I'm more concerned about the authenticity of their faith." This is a jaw-dropping -- and disturbing -- statement. The "authenticity" of a person's faith?
Pope Francis, whose open-hearted humanity has been bringing Republican House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly to tears, famously stated in 2013,
"Who am I to judge?"
Juxtapose this against the apparent belief of Huckabee, who would like to be our president. According to him, your faith is no longer between you and God; it is now between you and Mike Huckabee. Huckabee appears to the judger in chief.
While Huckabee has discussed issues such as tax reform,
religion is his bread and butter issue.
We saw him recently championing the cause of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for failing to follow a federal judge's order to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Huckabee claimed
Davis' case was about the "criminalization of Christianity." Really? In the United States, we call it a person putting her religious beliefs above the Constitution and failing to follow a judge's lawful order.
And while Huckabee hasn't offered any plan for how to respond to climate change or inequality, he has released a three-pronged approach to defend "religious liberty." In it, Huckabee promises
to issue executive decisions as president to protect those who only support traditional marriage.
Huckabee, however, has done more than just call for religious liberty in this campaign, he has actually questioned our entire system of government.
He recently disavowed the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court as the final arbiter of the law,
as our Founding Fathers intended. Instead,
he has vowed to "not acquiesce
" to the Supreme Court's "judicial tyranny" and will oppose "ungodly" court rulings on abortion and same sex marriage.
And alarmingly when he last ran for president in 2008, Huckabee called for the U.S. Constitution to be amended "so it's in God's standard"
as set forth in the Bible. Imagine a Muslim American candidate calling for the Constitution to be amended to agree with the Quran?
Huckabee has even injected religion, instead of sensible policies that could save American lives, into the aftermath of tragedy.
Who can forget when -- after the horrific Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012 that left 26 people dead, including 20 children -- Huckabee told us that massacre was not the fault of a mentally ill gunmen or lax gun laws. No, instead he opined that it was because our "sin problem,"
that this type of tragedy has to be expected when we order "God out of our schools."
I'll reiterate: He wants to be president.
If only he were alone among the GOP presidential candidates in putting religion front and center, but he's not.
Ben Carson recently told that us that he, too, is seeking the role as theologian in chief with his claim that Islam is not compatible with the U.S. Constitution. Although there has not been a word from Carson as to whether he believes the passages in the Bible that call for
a woman to be stoned to death if she is not a virgin on her wedding night or that
women not be allowed "to teach or to assume authority over a man" and instead "must be quiet" comply with our Constitution?
And Donald Trump, of course, was recently ensnared in a religious themed controversy
, when he declined to correct a questioner who said Obama was Muslim while at the same time telling us "I love the Muslims."
It's Huckabee's choice, of course, to choose his campaign themes. And no doubt in his own calculations this will help him appeal to the more conservative evangelical voters in the GOP primaries -- although recent polls show him running near the bottom of the pack
nationally and in the all-important Iowa caucus.
But it will be impossible to judge his competence as a potential commander in chief if he continues to define himself pastor in chief.