[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest post is by Brent Childers. Brent serves as executive director of Faith In America, a North Carolina-based organization that works to educate Americans about the harm caused by religion-based bigotry.
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in a Meet The Press interview Sunday stated in response to questions on gays and abortion that he never would want to use government institutions "to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict [faith]."
Unfortunately, there is a glaring reason we must question whether Gov. Huckabee was answering "candidly and honestly" – which he said is how he tries to answer the many questions he has fielded related to his faith.
As host Tim Russert was concluding a line of questioning that addressed whether Huckabee's personal religious views shape his positions on homosexuality and abortion, Huckabee said his support for banning all abortions comes from something deeper than his faith.
"It's not a faith belief," Huckabee stated. "It's deeper than that. It's a human belief. That's why we go after that 12-year-old boy in the woods of North Carolina when he's lost, not because he has greater worth than someone else, but because we believe he has equal worth as everyone else. I like it that in this country we treat each other – at least we should – with that sense of equality."
It's apparent that Huckabee was trying to distance himself from the perception that his personal religious beliefs shape his policy positions.
However, a glaring contradiction is revealed in Huckabee's preceding responses to questions about his past statements about homosexuality.
Huckabee at first didn't try to distance himself from a past statement in which he said homosexuality was a publicly endorsed aberration such as pedophilia. He began by saying homosexuality and pedophilia are both forms of sexual deviancy and saying he wrote the words as a Christian addressing sin.
He then continued to say that the "perfection of God" is found in a marriage between one man and one woman.
Therein lies the gaping contradiction and an admittance – Huckabee's religious view of God's perfection very obviously shapes his position that government should restrict gay Americans from the same benefits it bestows on other married citizens.
The plain-spoken truth is that Huckabee has opposed marriage equality, adoption by gay parents, equal opportunity in employment and housing and against gays and lesbians serving in the military. Does his newfound innate sense of equality justify those positions or are they more in line with someone who has used misguided religious teachings to justify discrimination?
Is it possible that Huckabee's views are evolving – like the majority of people today who no longer look upon gay and lesbian citizens as sinful aberrations? Americans also can look back at history and see how religion-based bigotry has been used to justify rejection, condemnation and discrimination against other minorities.
Surely, Gov. Huckabee isn't blind to these lessons from history?
If he were running for president in the 1840's, would his religious beliefs have guided him to a position that slavery was a valid economic system? Or if this were 1964, would he tailor his religion-loaded phrases and public positions to appeal to those people who believed the Bible supported segregation.
America has a dark history of citizens and politicians using their religious beliefs to marginalize, dehumanize and ultimately discriminate against various minorities. The same thing is happening today and it causes great harm to gay Americans and their families.
Gay teenagers are twice as likely to commit suicide and the depression rate is nothing less than epidemic. It's a situation that is not brought on by their sexual orientation but instead because they live in a society that for too long has rejected and condemned them as sinful – by those like Huckabee who very publicly defines them as missing their interpretation of God's marker.
Huckabee's closing statement about this country's "sense of equality" used the example of the 12-year-old boy - apparently referring to a young Boy Scout who became lost last spring near McGrady, N.C.
The reference brings up a point that can provide Huckabee with an opportunity to be the evangelical straight-shooter he says he is.
The Boy Scouts' policy of banning gay youth as leaders doesn't impart a message of intrinsic value and equality to those youth. Instead, it sends a message of rejection, condemnation and discrimination.
Gov. Huckabee, do you really believe that's right?
Candor and honesty requires only a simple yes or no.