I write you as a private citizen and not as president of Vision America. From where I sit in the gallery of the Christian conservative movement, we are in complete disarray. Since the last election we have lost several giants including Dr. Bill Bright, Dr. Adrian Rogers, Dr. Jerry Falwell and Dr. D. James Kennedy.
Three years ago, Karl Rove, the architect of George W. Bush’s rise to power and prominence, was touting an era of conservative control of all branches of government, and many in our circles were celebrating, even though there was little evidence that the victories we secured at the ballot box were in fact stemming the tide of moral collapse in our culture.
Today, we are fragmented and can’t even decide on a candidate to support for president. In a sobering article in the New York Times Magazine Oct. 28 entitled, “The Evangelical Crackup,” David Kirkpatrick wrote:
Up to this point, though, most conservative Christian leaders are still locked in debate about which front-runner they dislike the least. Dobson’s public statements have traced the arc of their dissatisfaction. Last October, he observed that grass-roots evangelicals would have a hard time voting for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. In January, he said he could never vote for Sen. John McCain. More recently, Dobson panned Fred Thompson, too, for opposing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. “He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ‘want to,’” Dobson wrote in an e-mail message to allies. “Not for me, my brothers. Not for me!”
Finally, at the end of last month, Dobson was the foremost among the roughly 50 Christian conservative organizers who declared they would support a third-party candidate if the nomination went to Giuliani, who is their greatest fear. Some even talk of McCain – once anathema to them – as a better bet.
Over and again I have been encouraged by men I admire to be patient. But I submit that our patience has moved beyond prudence, and we are increasingly being viewed as irrelevant. I would submit that our mistake has been that we have been looking for perfection in a candidate, which can only lead to frustration.
I am a Christian conservative. Let me be more emphatic: I am a “Jesus First” conservative. I have many good friends in our movement who may find that objectionable, but I must be who I am. I admire and esteem my Jewish friends, Don Feder and Rabbis Daniel Lapin and Aryeh Spero, and they know I would never intentionally offend them or any of my many good friends who might not use such language in regards to their religious or political views. But my commitment to Jesus is the sole explanation for my life, my work and my calling. I will not sacrifice that to advance any other agenda or please any group.
In an ideal world, I am looking for a sincere follower of Jesus who is competent to run our country as president. If I can’t find both in a person, I will choose a competent person over the follower of Jesus. I have the same philosophy of life when it comes to physicians, financial advisers and mechanics. I want competency first, and if the person is also a follower of Christ, for me that’s a bonus of immeasurable significance.
I have chosen to cast my support for Mike Huckabee, not because he is perfect, but because I believe him to be competent, and I have known him for more than 30 years. I have watched his life up close and from a distance for the entire time. We attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary together in Ft. Worth, 30-plus years ago. It was and still is the largest evangelical seminary in the world, and at the time there was significant liberalism on the campus.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee
Among the students, there were three basic groups: 1) Those that sat in awe of the professors and drank the “Kool-Aid” of the latest liberal theological fad, 2) Those who were conservative but who chose to go about their business of getting their education quietly with as little conflict as possible, and 3) Those who were there on a mission to prepare to change the world and for whom Christ was their first love and winning souls their passion.
Mike and I gravitated to each other because we hung with students in the third category. During those days Huckabee joined the staff of James Robison, who at that time was the leading soul winning evangelist in the Southern Baptist Convention. After seminary, I entered full-time evangelism and had the privilege of preaching a crusade in a church in Arkansas where Mike Huckabee was their beloved pastor. Together we witnessed scores of people give their hearts to Jesus and many joined his church.
During those early years, the “conservative resurgence” in the Southern Baptist Convention was taking place. Always the warrior, I jumped in with both feet, doing all I could to expose theological liberalism in our denomination. In 1989, I ran for president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In the process, I ran an aggressive campaign, naming names of liberals in both churches and educational institutions. In the end, I was defeated by a significant margin. Mike took a different approach in Arkansas, which resulted in his being elected to the office of president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.
Some have tried to diminish his conservative credentials because they say he was a “no-show” for the theological wars of the Southern Baptist Convention. While that charge is not completely accurate, his gentler approach certainly proved prudent in God’s wider agenda of providing a leader for the whole state of Arkansas. And after three doses of Bill and Hillary Clinton, people of both sides of the theological wars in the SBC, as well as people of many faiths in Arkansas, voted for and elected a Baptist pastor, Mike Huckabee, to state-wide office three times.
It seems that the narrow view of some is that he would be a better candidate today had he stood up during the battle for a denomination. Had he done so, he would never have been the chief executive officer of the State of Arkansas for 10 years, and we would not even be discussing his presidential candidacy now. And we must not forget it was Solomon, the man of peace, whom God commissioned to build the temple in Jerusalem, not David, the warrior.
I choose to believe that God, in His sovereignty, orchestrated that chain of events. Now we have a viable and competent candidate in Mike Huckabee, who also happens to be a committed Christian. Note, I did not say “perfect.”
Wherever Huckabee is exposed to values voters, he is their clear choice. We witnessed this in Ft. Lauderdale in September when approximately 2,000 assembled for the Values Voter Debate in which more than 40 members of our coalition participated, and again among those who were on site at the Values Voters Washington Briefing in October. On both occasions, he won with more than 50 percent of the votes cast on site and with a 5 to 1 margin over his nearest rival. Those of us who were in the room when Huckabee delivered his remarks in D.C. could sense the enthusiasm of the attendees for his message as well as his candidacy, as they interrupted his speech numerous times with standing ovations.
Some correctly point out that Huckabee hasn’t raised enough money to conduct a national campaign and therefore suggest he is “unelectable.” That appears to be changing, but while the money issue is important, it should not be the most important consideration for people of faith. We should not overlook the fact that he, a Republican, was elected thrice in a predominately Democrat state where he received over 45 percent of the black vote.
Many are praying that God will spare our great nation from the judgment we certainly deserve for the killing of over 45,000,000 pre-born children, not to mention the millstone we deserve to have hung around our necks for allowing our living children to be exploited by the sexual anarchists that now control public education and Hollywood. We need revival for survival.
I suggest that God may be sending us a lifeline. Who better to lead a nation nearing moral collapse and perhaps World War III than a president who is also a pastor with 10 years of senior executive experience as a governor? Many in the secular press are now reporting that he is a legitimate first-tier candidate whose star is rising while others are fading. Millions of voters are gravitating to him.
I acknowledge I am not as politically savvy as some, and you should consider that as you read this open letter, but I have concluded that Gov. Mike Huckabee is our best hope for leading this nation at this time.
Some suggest that he has no foreign policy experience. Neither did Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, nor George W. Bush.
Some criticize his alleged “big” government approach to problem solving. I’d rather debate that issue with a candidate than abortion, same-sex marriage and marital infidelity.
Some criticize his redefining values as social justice. My response is as Christians and values voters, we must include social justice. Can you imagine Jesus ignoring the plight of the disenfranchised and downtrodden while going after the abortionist? This is not an either/or policy question.
Some criticize his positions on illegal immigration. I have listened to a maturing candidate whose stated solutions begin with secure borders.
Some criticize his positions on the environment. I would suggest that as stewards of God resources, there needs to be a fresh look at this issue, and while we may not agree on causes or solutions, I can assure you that citizens in this nation and many Christians in the pews will not be kind to a version of Christianity or politics that refuses to address this area of wide concern. Huckabee is forcing Republicans to discuss this issue, and that is healthy.
Many often lament, as I have done, “Where are all the pastors?” Well, one of them is running for president, and it seems to me the Christian pro-family movement might do well to help him. If he fails to secure the nomination, then we can regroup and do something else, but right now we have a great chance to give him what millions of dollars cannot assure … tens of millions of faithful and God-fearing Americans who want a godly leader. I hear from many of them daily, and they are looking to us for affirmation and leadership.
I acknowledge that Huckabee is not the perfect candidate, but I believe that in him we have a legitimate candidate who will listen to wise counsel and who shares our core values. This is the primary season where little is much in terms of turnout, and now is the time for us to rally our people.
Pastor Rick Scarborough
Founder and president of Vision America Action
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