Southern Religion

Texas Baptist editor sings Huckabee, off-key

Marv Knox gave himself to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s Republican presidential aspirations in a well-phrased column which is flawed only by failures of documentation, overlooked facts and broken logic.

Texas Baptist Standard Editor Marv Knox

Marv Knox

Knox is editor of the Texas Baptist Standard, whose Web presence is probably the most commanding among the state Southern Baptist newspapers and chief strategist of a four-publication [1, 2, 3, 4] online partnership.

Knox framed Huckabee’s issue as the “tension between Christian compassion and the duties of citizenship.” Yet Knox began by speaking directly to former Southern Baptist pastor Huckabee’s motivations in granting clemency to Maurice Clemmons, who as a result, Knox writes, “was free to walk into a Lakewood, Wash., coffee shop and murder four police officers.”

Mike Huckabee speaks


It’s a vacant example, robbed of force by Huckabee himself. On Dec. 1, before Knox’s piece was published on Dec. 5, Huckabee wrote about the Clemmons matter for Human Events, saying:

Religion had nothing to do with the commutation. It’s been erroneously expressed that my own personal faith or the claims of faith of the inmate factored into my decision. That is simply not true and nothing in the record even suggests it.

The overarching record of Huckabee’s 1,033 (or 1,058 if you prefer the Arkansas Secretary of State’s number) clemencies is itself a muddled mess of inconsistencies and so does nothing for Knox’s argument. They are variously:

  • Without useful explanation because none is apparent and Huckabee refuses to explain. In one case Huckabee is reported to have laughed aloud at a request for explanation.
  • Fraught with contradictory, factually inaccurate accounts, like those Huckabee gave in the case of Arkansas rapist and murderer Wayne Dumond.
  • Capricious: Huckabee pushed through a pardon for Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ 1975 reckless driving conviction 31 years after the fact on the apparent basis of Richards’ guitar playing skill.
  • Fundamentally irrational albeit recommended by a fellow pastor. That was the case with Huckabee’s offer of clemency to Glen Green, “a madman who beat an 18-year-old woman with Chinese martial-arts sticks, raped her as she barely clung to life, ran over her with his car, then dumped her in the bayou … .” And Huckabee abandoned that one amid a firestorm of public pressure.
  • Apparently driven by the recommendations of family and/or personal acquaintances as in the case of “Samuel W. Taylor, convicted on a drug charge. A prosecutor said the man had told him Taylor’s sister had gone to school with Huckabee.”
  • Well-deserved, as Jeralyn wrote, “particularly for drug offenders serving excessive sentences. A Governor’s use of clemency and pardon power is a good thing.”

It is in light of that record a triumph of false comparison for Knox to suggest that Huckabee’s record somehow parallels former President Jimmy Carter’s often-noted Christian naivete.

Although Huckabee has busily tried to excuse himself and shift blame to others for variously motivated Arkansas gubernatorial decisions which resulted in rape and murder. While Carter appears to have been without similar blemishes on his record governor of Georgia, has been effective if controversial in diplomacy, won a Nobel Peace Prize for work after leaving the presidency and has at times been frank in accepting blame. Most recently, Carter issued an apology (Al Het) for any harm done the Israelis by his words or deeds. Thus Knox’s is an apples to asteroids comparison. Strained.

Knox takes flight from that illogic, demolishing, resurrecting and abandoning a straw man argument that some people of faith should not permitted to hold “specific offices.” He refutes unnamed, undocumented “extremists” and asserts without proof the views of “most citizens.” Knox finally concludes that the role of faith in public policy decision-making will be a key issue in the next presidential election, and Baptists have much to offer.

They do, as Carter continues to demonstrate.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Texas Baptist editor sings Huckabee, off-key