Much has been made of Gov. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Richard Cohen, one of the liberals whose smug, angry prose is frequently splashed across the editorial page of The Washington Post, disagrees. This morning’s column insists that Baptist Mike Huckabee, rather than Mormon Mitt Romney, should be the first “to do as [Catholic] John F. Kennedy once did and make a speech explaining why his religion is not a threat to our cherished American way of life”.
It may surprise this blog’s regular readers that I think Mr. Cohen might have had a point, but I do. Unfortunately, Mr. Cohen missed it, overlooking the most striking example of the dangers of Gov. Huckabee’s application of his religious views, preferring instead to go off on an anti-Bush tangent, claiming that the president has “infused government with religion” through his “adamant refusal to authorize federal spending for most embryonic stem-cell research” and other policy decisions–as though any policy question with a moral dimension must only be decided on the side of indulgence lest religion be thought to restrict govenment from venturing beyond its proper function to secure the Creator-endowed inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Should the laws against homicide be repealed, then, since the Bible commands, “Thou shalt not murder”?
If so, perhaps that explains why Mr. Cohen failed to cite the most bizarre episode of Mike Huckabee’s governorship, when his simplistic misapplication of Christian values led him to a decision that was not only wrong but profoundly tragic.
Gov. Huckabee’s belief in “the concept of Christian forgiveness” is correct, but indulging it at the expense of public justice is not. And that’s what happened in the case of Wayne Dumond, who was serving time for raping 17-year-old Ashley Stevens, who happened to be a distant relative of another Baptist Arkansas governor from Hope with presidential hopes, Bill Clinton.
With Gov. Huckabee’s support, Mr. Dumond was paroled–and then moved to Missouri, where he sexually assaulted and murdered another woman.
According to the self-appointed Forgiver-in-Chief of Arkansas, “nobody could know” that Mr. Dumond would offend again.
Actually, Ashley Stevens knew. After Gov. Huckabee announced his intention to free Mr. Dumond, Ms. Stevens requested–and got–a meeting with him. “If you ever let him out, he’s going to do it again,” the young woman told the Governor. Seeing that he had already “made up his mind”, Ms. Stevens stood up, walked over to the sofa-seated Governor, squatted down, and thrust her face inches from his. “I said, ‘This is how close I was to Dumond’s face for an hour,'” she later recalled. “‘I’ll never forget his face, and you’ll never forget mine.'”
Mike Huckabee is most likely a good man and a sincere Christian. But to the extent that he allows a simplistic understanding of Christian tenets to lure him into political decisions that run afoul of the government’s duty to secure those Creator-endowed rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, voters should be wary.