Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee commented on the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., on Fox News, saying that Americans have “systematically removed God from our schools” and thus shouldn’t be surprised when violence occurs there.
Huckabee: The biggest aftermath of something like this is people are going to look for, ‘Why did it happen?’ Okay, well the answer is inexplicable. And what do we do to stop it? You can take certain measures, and I think your that previous guest had a lot of great ideas which is very important. But ultimately, you can take every gun away in America and somebody will use a bomb. When somebody has an intent to do incredible damage, they’re going to find a way to do it. In the case of the Jonesboro shooters we were talking about an 11 and a 12 year old kid who took high powered rifles and gunned down their classmates and teachers after they had got them into a school yard by setting off a fire alarm where they were trapped in a fenced area and couldn’t get back in because the door locked after them. They were sitting ducks. And the question was how can an 11 and a 12 year old do this? And the answer is nobody can understand how that can happen.
Huckabee: So you know, people will want to pass new laws, but unless you change peoples’ hearts, there I transition maybe to the pastor side. This is a heart issue, it’s not something, laws don’t change this kind of thing.
Host: You know, invariably, people ask after tragedies like this, ‘How could God let this happen?’
Huckabee: Well, you know it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police if they catch us but one day we stand before a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that. And so I sometimes when people say, ‘Why did God let it happen?’ you know, God wasn’t armed. He didn’t go to the school. But God will be there in the form of a lot of people with hugs and with therapy and a whole lot of ways which I think he will be involved in the aftermath. Maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.
Before his political career, Huckabee was a Southern Baptist pastor and served as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, a role that he says led him into public life
In previous years, Huckabee, who ran for president in the 2008 Republican primary, has taken heat for the way as governor some say he mixed his faith with his approach to criminal behavior.
According to 2009 Post reporting, Huckabee had “been dogged by questions over the more than 1,000 commutations and pardons he issued -- more than his three predecessors combined -- during his 10-year tenure” in Arkansas “after a man whose sentence he commuted as Arkansas governor” (as Politico reported) killed four police officers. The Post also noted that he “faced similar questions over the release from prison of convicted rapist Wayne DuMond, who was convicted of another rape and a murder.”
During the controversy over the pardons, Joe Carter, who had worked for the Huckabee campaign, wrote at the First Things blog:
His naivete about how his actions would be judged was compounded by his own belief in the nobleness of his motives. Huckabee was—and likely remains—a true believer in the concept of restorative justice. Like many politicians who latch onto ideas that support their worldview, however, he was enthusiastic about the general theory while failing to grasp the nuances of its application
Judging from the records, the governor also seemed to put a lot of weight on conversion stories—a common trait among evangelicals, who believe the gospel is sufficient for restoration and redemption of character. The opinion of clergy appears to have carried a great deal of weight in the decision-making process.
Ironically, what makes Huckabee such an appealing presidential candidate -- his empathy for all people and genuine belief in the individual -- is also the trait that will prevent him from ever reaching the White House. His experiences and intuitions that served him well as a minister of the gospel were not always applicable in of governor of a state. The unfortunate reality is that for politicians, unlike pastors, there are limits to compassion.
Related content from On Faith:
* Stanley: In tragedy we grieve; in God, we hope