Understanding the Gospel According to Huckabee

If you heard Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s victory speech on Super Tuesday, you may have noticed him speaking in what is almost a separate dialect. Some listeners have even asked us what he was talking about. So NPR headed off to the National Mall in search of people who understood Huckabee’s biblical allusions.

It proved almost as hard as getting a camel through the eye of a needle.

We started by recounting this story: In November, as Huckabee surged in the polls, a student at Liberty University asked him what was driving his startling success. Huckabee responded, “It’s the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people.”

We played the tape for Leitha Anthony, who was waiting to go into the Washington Monument. Did she know what he was talking about?

“That’s when Moses … had to feed all the people, the multitude of people that left Egypt,” Anthony hazarded. “That’s what it was?”

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, US Presidential Election 2008

21 comments on “Understanding the Gospel According to Huckabee

  1. Katherine says:

    This is a sad and amusing story about scriptural illiteracy. However, I don’t care for Huckabee’s first quote in this article, in which he says that Jesus is driving his success in the polls.

  2. carl says:

    [blockquote] So NPR headed off to the National Mall in search of people who understood Huckabee’s biblical allusions.[/blockquote]
    Liberal “Jay-Walking”, except the NPR audience doesn’t know the answers either. Instead of laughing at people for not recognizing President Bush, the audience laughs at people for being so provincial as to know Bible Stories.
    She: Hey, they found one who got the answer right.
    He: Can you believe that guy? He couldn’t find a good Merlot with a map, but he knows who David is in the bible.
    She: And these people have children?
    He: Well [i]somebody[/i] has to.

    She: You’re terrible. Seriously, those poor kids. What are they being taught?
    He: Not much it seems, judging by these answers.
    This is one of those “reassuring stories” for NPR listeners. Its purpose is to convey the sparse nature of Christian commitment in the general population to an elite secular audience that fears Christian commitment. Its message is simple: “We’re the mainstream culture- not them.” But you do have to ask yourself. Would the crowd on the National Mall in the middle of winter be the most representative sample population for fairly judging these questions? My immediate reaction was to remember this quote:
    [blockquote]Nixon can’t have won; no one I know voted for him. [/blockquote]


  3. Paula Loughlin says:

    Well I know all the answers and I can find an excellent merlot without a map. We use it to cleanse the rattlesnake bites gotten during service.

  4. Will B says:

    Gee Carl, I did not know that you knew everyone who listened to NPR and therefore knew that every single one of them is an elite secularist suspicious of Christian commitment. I am not a secularist ( I listen to NPR. I also listen to pretty far right talk radio.) . I am not scared of Huckabee’s biblical allusions; I am scared of any politician who decides to wrap up whatever they say in the pages of the Bible. I don’t care whether it is the old left or the new right. Call it liberal secularism if you like. I prefer to think that I am merely someone who is a Christian trying to live faithfully, yet also appreciating and wishing to honor the separation of Church and state.

  5. Catholic Mom says:

    I have absolutely no problem with biblical allusions from politicians when those quotations actually come naturally to that person. I have a big problem with them faking it. Like when Kerry said that Job was his favorite Gospel. 🙂

  6. Catholic Mom says:

    Anthony, who is from Mississippi, was close — the Bible story did involve food — but it was Jesus feeding the hungry crowd. Most of the other people we talked to near the Washington Monument got it wrong, too.

    Actually, the loaves and fishes belonged to a little boy, just like Huckabee said. The POWER that helped the boy’s lunch serve 5,000 people was Jesus. So “Anthony” did not “get it wrong.” Neither did Huckabee.

  7. talithajd says:

    “”That’s when Moses … had to feed all the people, the multitude of people that left Egypt,” Anthony hazarded. “That’s what it was?””

    I’m sorry, Catholic Mom, but does your Bible relate a “loaves and fishes” story about Moses? I’m afraid Anthony was off the mark by a pretty wide margin.

  8. Grandmother says:

    I suppose this isn’t the “town square” for it, but the “biblical quotations” thing is driving me nuts. I grew up in the era of big revival tents, sawdust trails et al. This comes close to claiming that somehow providence/God is on his side, very similar to the “Prosperity Gospel”, so popular on TV, megachurches etc. I’ve seen more than my share of folk claiming some special place because of their belief.

    If there is indeed to be a “miracle” as Huckabee seems to believe, it a well-financed, media-promoted one.


  9. carl says:

    [#4] Will B

    That makes you an atypical NPR listener. I was referring to the NPR demographic. It is upscale, liberal, secular (or sorta vaguely spiritual), and highly educated. You know this. I know this. But you can prove me wrong by pointing out all those shows on NPR that presume the truth of the Christian world view. Yeah, I can’t think of any, either.


  10. Catholic Mom says:

    I’m sorry, Catholic Mom, but does your Bible relate a “loaves and fishes” story about Moses?

    Yeah — isn’t that in the Protestant Bible? You know…where Moses feeds the multitude gathered around Mt. Sinai?? Gee…I know you guys left out a lot, but I didn’t think it was THAT bad. 🙂

    Actually — I got confused because of reading the first part of the story and then clicking for the second. I didn’t realize Anthony had made the “Moses” remark. I thought he had backed up Huckabee that it was “a little boy’s” lunch that had fed the crowd. Shows you that you should read more carefully before you comment. Luckily I didn’t fire off a missive beginning “You total fools! Don’t you know anything!” Just like I tell my kids…always use soft words. They’ll be less painful when you have to eat them. 🙂

  11. Milton says:

    #3 LOL!!!!! But I didn’t know RCs handled snakes? (Or are you referring to gossips?) 🙂 Seriously, though, if these self-identifying evangelicals show this near-complete Biblical illiteracy, do they really know essential and defining Christian and salvation doctrine, much less believe it, much less have the ability and desire to reach lost souls for Christ? Could they themselves be unwittingly lost themselves? Kyrie eleison!

  12. physician without health says:

    This is truly sad commentary on the spiritual illiteracy in our country. America truly is a great missin field. On another note, while I am not a Huckabee supporter, I thought that he gave a very thoughtful address this morning at Fallwell’s church in Lynchburg on the role of civil law.

  13. physician without health says:

    Sorry, in #12, I misspelled “mission.”

  14. dwstroudmd+ says:

    You think its bad for politics, you should take a literature course in American Lit. Thirty years ago it was just as bad. No one could understand literary allusions or analogies or – truly – direct references to Bible stories. I was appalled then and remain so to this day.
    Prothero’s quantitative technique is amusing, but still an underestimate. I’d go for the Gideon’s band level myself.

  15. Timothy says:

    A number of Catholic bloggers were about blown out of their chairs when Huckabee signaled to Catholics in his Iowa victory speech. Good thing that NPR didn’t try to find people who recognized Huckabee’s Chesterton quotes. They might have been there for days.

  16. archangelica says:

    NPR has fairly extensive coverage of religion that tops most other secular media outlets any day of the week:

  17. Jim the Puritan says:

    [blockquote] Finally, we happened upon Vicky Frey. She attends a megachurch of 2,500 people in Omaha, Neb. She got every question right. So she was asked about one more Huckabee quote for the bonus round:

    “It’s almost like when the prophet was looking for a king. He came down, looked through all of Jesse’s sons, went through a whole bunch of them, and said, ‘Is this all you got?'”

    Before the question was finished, Frey was nodding and smiling.

    “And that would be Samuel the prophet came down and went through all of the sons — I think there were seven of them — and David was the last one,” she quickly responded, adding, “Jesse said, ‘No, I still have one more son, but he’s the youngest and he’s out in the field tending the sheep,’ and he chose him.

    “And so the lesson that we’re supposed to learn from that,” she explained, “is it’s not on our physical appearance that we’re judged, but it’s on our heart. So the prophet knew that David would be king because he had the proper heart.”

    “Do you feel like you’re in church today?” Frey asked, laughing. [/blockquote]

    Am glad someone was able to explain to NPR what they meant.

  18. robroy says:

    It is clear that Will B (#4) would have voted against Lincoln.

  19. Violent Papist says:

    And that’s a bad thing, exactly why Robroy? I would have voted against Lincoln myself.

  20. Will B says:

    Robroy: Being from Illinois, I take offense at the idea that I would not have voted for Lincoln. But while we’re engaging in anachronism, however, Lincoln probably would not have been popular with a number of people (well timed Violent Papist #19). Lincoln, even before the outbreak of the Civil War, leaned more on the side of federal rights than states’ rights, which would have been a signal to folks today of big government, big spending, etc. Huckabee may well be a very faithful, fine upstanding Christian and quoting the Bible may be completley natural for him. However, I remember that wonderful man of faith,Bill Clinton, quoting the Bible quite often too. Most of the presdients of the latter half of the twentieth century would trot out the Bible when they felt the need for something extra. When I think of that great assembly–Richard Nixon with the Viet Nam war and dirty tricks, Jimmy Carter with a disastrous foreign policy, Ronald Reagan who,while held up as the great father of all things modernly conservative and republican, is said to have partaken of astrologers with wife Nancy, the Bush’s, and of course, the aforementioned Clinton. Yeah, I would have voted for Lincoln without hesitation in the 19th century but I still get nervous when any of today’s field decides to go “Charlton Heston” on me and play Moses.

  21. Dave B says:

    Will B, I hope quoting the Bible comes naturally to the Huckabee, He is a Baptist minister.