I got an email today from someone pointing me to a blog entry by David Montoya where he references a New York Times article about the candidacy of Mike Huckabee for president. According to the article and Mr. Montoya’s personal confirmation (Montoya was involved heavily in the Conservative Resurgence in Arkansas until he turned against the leadership, thus being roundly vilified), a part of the reason that Mike Huckabee is not being supported by Southern Baptist leadership for president is because he was seen as a moderate in the 1989 election for president of the state baptist convention of Arkansas. In that election, he ran against Ronnie Floyd, the pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Arkansas, and member of the Paige Patterson – Paul Pressler coalition that took over the SBC. Here is an excerpt from the NY Times:
The race was “far more political than anything else I’ve ever been involved in,” Mr. Huckabee recalled. The leaders of the conservative takeover tapped the Rev. Ronnie Floyd, a stalwart of their movement, as their candidate.
“They were not sure Mike was committed enough,” Mr. Floyd said.
Mr. Huckabee, who won by a 2-to-1 ratio, carried the flag for the so-called moderates, arguing that the Arkansas Baptists were amply orthodox. Although Mr. Floyd and Mr. Huckabee both now say they shared the same conservative theological convictions, Mr. Huckabee’s emphasis on tolerance and inclusiveness rallied opponents of the turn to the right.
“Huckabee was on the wrong side,” said Paul M. Weyrich, a founding organizer of the conservative movement. “That has caused more people to get off of Huckabee than you can imagine. With me, it’s a deal breaker.” (Mr. Weyrich recently endorsed Mr. Romney, Mr. Huckabee’s leading rival in the Iowa Republican caucuses.)
If this hypothesis is true, it is very interesting indeed. As many of you know, I spent a great deal of time on this blog chronicling the Southern Baptist disagreement over new policies with the International Mission Board that went beyond our confession of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message. Those policies excluded otherwise qualified Baptists from missionary service if they fell on the wrong side of the position of the extreme fundamentalists in SBC leadership. I believed that it was wrong then and I still do. We passed the Garner Motion at the most recent Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio to try and reign in Baptist entities from going beyond the BF&M. It has been reinterpreted and ignored. The people that proposed and supported the IMB policies and opposed the Garner Motion are the same ones who would be behind opposition to the Huckabee candidacy, if this were true.
I have been very confused as to why Southern Baptist leaders like Richard Land, the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of Southern Baptists has not come out in support of Mike Huckabee. Maybe he doesn’t do that in the primaries. I don’t know. Why have other Baptist leaders been so silent on Huckabee’s candidacy? In my last post, I posited that support of other candidates was pragmatic in that Evangelical leaders only wanted to support a winner. That seems most plausible. But, based on the NY Times article, could it be that a lingering effect of the Baptist Battles of the Conservative Resurgence in the 1980’s might affect who resides in the White House?