Home/Daniel Larison/Hail, “Ceaser”!

Hail, “Ceaser”!

I’m a little late to this, but I wanted to add a few remarks to what Rod said about Huckabee’s allegedly horrifying remarks about God and the Constitution.  But first, Lisa “Go Pack To Dogpatch” Schiffren:

What do you think God’s standard is on anchor babies and birthright citizenship? (Manger!) Does Huckabee’s God believe in borders? What is God’s monetary policy? Is Jesus a capitalist? How much economic disparity will he tolerate? Wouldn’t God want us all to have health care? Nice shoes?

What about rendering unto Ceaser that which is Ceaser’s [sic], and unto God that which is God’s? Mike Huckabee is going to force those of us who have wanted more religion in the town square to reexamine the merits of strict separation of church and state. He is the best advertisement ever for the ACLU. Even if you share his ultimate views on the definition of marriage, or the desirability of abortion on demand.

Is this “Ceaser” the one who ceases and desists from something?  Tell us more about “Ceaser,” please. 

These comments, and others like them in recent days, are revealing about what some movement conservatives really think about religion in the public square, “values,” and eternal verities.  Religion in the public square is all very nice so long as we’re talking about nothing more than prayers at high school football games and maybe a creche here and there, but just watch these people who allegedly “have wanted more religion in the town square” run screaming the moment a religious conservative proposes to do something and to do it for religious reasons.  Suddenly the great friends of religiosity cannot get away fast enough, which suggests that their earlier interest in more religion was very weak or it was simply a pose for the benefit of their audience. 

What is most remarkable about all of this is that these reactions are coming from people who mostly support the exact same constitutional amendments on marriage and life that Huckabee does.  Most of them, I assume, have supported the life amendment plank in the GOP platform, and I assume virtually all of them have voted for candidates running on that platform in the past.  If they don’t agree with these amendments, it is also probably not because they think that these amendments represent some horrible intrusion of religion into the public square, but because they think they are politically misguided.  There is a good federalist, decentralist argument against both of these amendments, and that is the real issue with what Huckabee is proposing.  He is trying to set up candidates who still have some nominal respect for federalism as relativists, as he has done before.  The reaction against what Huckabee said seems to be driven entirely by the way that he said it and the fact that he dared to suggest that the laws of men should be in line with the law of God.  In this, he is making a standard Christian conservative argument.  By their reaction, they have shown how much contempt they have for that kind of argument and the people who make it.  That isn’t news to some of us, but it is a little surprising that they would express it with so much vehemence.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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