Mike Huckabee ignores James Madison, tells Christians to avoid military until Obama is gone

Mike Huckabee is sorta, kinda, give-me-some-money-and-we’ll see running for president. And he was in New Hampshire this past weekend to test the waters on another bid for the White House.

On Friday, he threw some red meat to Republican primary voters when he said that young people thinking about joining the military should wait until 2017, when there occupant of the Oval Office is more friendly to Christians.

Said Huckabee, as quoted by the Huffington Post:

When you have this attitude that is more about promoting gay marriage and gay rights in the military than it is about being able to protect religious liberty for those people of faith, it’s going to be hard to find people that are truly devoted people of faith and Christian believers and Orthodox Jews and others…

…I’d wait a couple of years until we get a new commander in chief that will once again believe ‘one nation under God,’ and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country, but defending this country.

He went on to express concern that President Obama “orders chaplains…not to counsel people on the issues of sexual morality.” This is especially rich coming from a man who has blamed military sexual assault — sexual immorality if there ever was such a thing — on the very fact that we allow gays and women in the military in the first place. Seemingly still sore from President Obama’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Huckabee’s call for military abstention is not only wildly unpatriotic — openly calling for would-be enlistees to refrain from signing up to defend our country — but also betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about religion’s role in our armed forces.

When President Bush began using our military as an agent of the One True Christian God™, it represented the exception, not the rule, in American foreign policy. Our military has always been a secular force for American interests at home and abroad. To go back to our Founders, as Huckabee is wont to do, James Madison was adamant that our nation’s public bodies remain neutral when it came to religion. As he wrote, on the subject of having chaplains in Congress:

Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes.

This prohibition of chaplains extended beyond the halls of Congreess and into the military. As Madison continued:

Better also to disarm in the same way, the precedent of Chaplainships for the army and navy, than erect them into a political authority in matters of religion. The object of this establishment is seducing; the motive to it is laudable. But is it not safer to adhere to a right principle, and trust to its consequences, than confide in the reasoning however specious in favor of a wrong one.

Madison felt that even if rabbis and ministers and priests and imams could do some good in providing guidance to soldiers, the precedent set by granting religion an official place in our nation’s military would be much worse. Regardless as to how badly Mike Huckabee would like to see his version of  his faith represented more forcefully in our nation’s armed forces, he doesn’t have a Constitutional leg to stand on, nor does he have an historical one.

The use of chaplains in by the United States government is a clear violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, and by extension has no place in the military — the fact that we still have them at all should be a bigger issue than their relative ability to preach. Soldiers are free to pray to whichever deity they please, or to none at all. It’s of no concern to President Obama, and should be of no concern of Mike Huckabee.

If Mike Huckabee has a problem with President Obama’s tone on religion in the military, he’s more than welcome to take it up with James Madison. Until then, he needs to tone down the unpatriotic blabber about holding out from military service on religious grounds, whatever his right-wing base would rather hear.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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25 Responses to “Mike Huckabee ignores James Madison, tells Christians to avoid military until Obama is gone”

  1. Texon says:

    The Huckster is just warming up. His new job,and his family as well, is running for a nomination he will never get. But in the process he’s gonna make a ton of cash from the rubes who follow him.

  2. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I have an older definition of chicken hawk. Although, Huckabee does look like one of them as well.

  3. Butch1 says:

    Yes, I miss him.

  4. fcoli says:

    I sure wish someone like Michael Moore would do a feature length documentary profiling all of the chicken hawks like Huckabee and how they “supported” war while not serving in the military. Really rub their noses in their cowardice. And soon, before another one gets elected!

  5. ComradeRutherford says:

    Exactly. Women are property, not people. Therefore rape can not exist.

  6. Butch1 says:

    That’s for sure.

  7. rmthunter says:

    He simply hasn’t figured out the difference between “Pastor” and “Governor.” And he’s a reflexive liar.

  8. Butch1 says:

    Ha! Well said, though this “know it all” will never shut it and we will be the unfortunate listeners of the garbage he spews.

  9. rmthunter says:

    Maybe he should keep them out of his mouth.

  10. Buford says:

    I’ll state the obvious… a real Christian would never join the military, anyway.

  11. Jon Green says:

    Didn’t you listen to Steve King? Jews who don’t embrace the same nativist, apocalyptic stance on the Holy Land as the GOP aren’t really Jews.

  12. BeccaM says:

    In a nation where the Biblical role for women has been reimposed, there is no such thing as ‘rape.’ Merely the illegal misappropriation of another man’s property — a crime of theft in which the female is presumed to be complicit, and thus is supposed to share in the punishment.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Interesting how Huckabee only grants religious legitimacy to Orthodox Jews.

    But it’s even more indicative how so very many of the GOP’s wannabe high-office candidates now openly advocate anti-American, anti-patriotic, and borderline seditious positions. “Don’t serve your country because you don’t like who is leading it”? Really?

    Let’s be clear here though: Several of the Republican Party’s candidates are running on a New Gilead platform, the imposition of an authoritarian, fascist Christian theocracy. ‘Wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross’ has never been more real.

  14. Butch1 says:

    Exactly so. He’s clever enough to add that his feet have bothered him all his life.

  15. Naja pallida says:

    Probably because flat feet alone isn’t actually an automatic disqualification. Only if you have persistent foot pain, or require some kind of corrective footwear is it considered a disqualification. He just gave up before even trying, because he didn’t really ever want to serve.

  16. 2karmanot says:


  17. 2karmanot says:

    According to the Burble, persons who are “truly devoted” people of faith?” should go and immediately volunteer for crucifixion to atone for the sins of the world.

  18. 2karmanot says:

    Even morre scary is this line from Huksterby: “sexual immorality if there ever was such a thing” Women, do you want this troll as President? —–A man who diminishes military rape as a mere : “If there is such a thing?”

  19. disqus_tu7SEHpgGp says:

    Huckabee, “onward christian soldiers”. Oh, boy. Another richard.

  20. Indigo says:

    The Huckabee Noise Machine is only that, noise. His pronouncements are content free, easily repeated as distractions from systematic assessment, and stonewall civil discourse effectively. They’re stupid-making, in other words.

  21. gratuitous says:

    What’s Huckabee’s authority for pronouncing his oracles? Was he in the military? Is he now? How many military chaplains does he know personally? Can he call just one of them right now to prove it? And what is his rationale for “truly devoted” people of faith? If a person was truly devoted to his or her faith, I’m not sure I can see a path that involves picking up a weapon, siting it, and blowing away the person at the other end of the projectile.

  22. Butch1 says:

    Just like he avoided the military at the end of the Vietnam Conflict with his flimsy excuse; I have always been bothered with “flat-feet” and was told my my ROTC leader in college that I should just forget it, so I did. What nonsense. Another chicken not unlike Mitt Romney and the other chicken-hawks who are for war, but too chicken to get in there themselves to put their own arses in harm’s way. Romney even protested FOR the war, then took off to France to do his missionary work when other Mormons fought in Vietnam.

    Huckabee also thinks people that apply for assistance or are “on the dole” should go join. This, coming from a man too chicken to join himself using that old tired excuse of “flat-feet.” I have flat-feet and it didn’t stop the Army from drafting me. I’m gay and could have gotten out, but I went to Vietnam. These pseudo brave talking spineless, when it comes done to the “walk the walk” cowards are hypocrites. They are all “talk the talk”, though.

  23. silas1898 says:

    Great idea! Fewer insane Bible-thumpers in the military is a good thing.

  24. Quilla says:


    Mike Huckabee should not only be ashamed, he should be arrested.

  25. Houndentenor says:

    He’s running. He didn’t give up a cushy job at Fox News to NOT run for president. As for the military thing, this is life in the bizarro world of the religious right. If we can’t force our religion on others, that’s PERSECUTION. Never mind the many complaints about soldiers being told they had to attend a particular church (not just a church of their own choosing even but the kind the CO attends). No, never mind that. Christians (meaning HIS kind of Christian because the others are REALLY Christians) are being PERSECUTED.

    The question is why do conservatives hate America, but then since we let Cheney get away with selling nuclear materials to Iran, I can’t imagine anyone but serious liberals are going to bother calling out something this trivial.

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