Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Take a Chill Pill, Bill: Donohue out of his "League" hexing Huckabee

He came to what was his own but his own people did not accept him.

(John 1:11), from the Christmas Gospel reading

Lord, do not hold this sin against

(Acts 8:59), from today's Epistle for the Feast of St. Stephen

While in the past he and his League have won FIT-ting praise for their crusade to put Christ back into Christmas and the American culture, Catholic League president Bill Donohue sounded more like former lowbrow talk show host Phil Donahue when ripping Christian presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee for having the guts to do the very thing "Bill of Rights" has long advocated.

At question is candidate Huckabee's Christmas TV spot (which aired in the early caucus/primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina), where Huck states "Are you worn out by all the television commercials ... about politics? Well, I don't blame you. At this time of year sometimes it's nice to pull aside from all that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and friends ... God bless and Merry Christmas." One would think that Donohue, who has long fought to get Christmas carols, manger scenes and even the words "Merry Christmas" back into the mainstream of our increasingly secular culture, would praise this effort—especially from a former Baptist minister who has a solid history of Christian apologetics long before his career in politics started. Instead, Donohue (who did say the ad would have been okay if it had just said Merry Christmas) railed on the Fox and Friends show that the commercial "had gone too far." "Every other word out of [Huckabee's] mouth is 'I'm Christian.' Let people talk about their faith, but don't sell it on your sleeve." Calling Mike a Christian "salesman," Donohue went on to say Huckabee was "selling religion" not "the issues," saying to Evangelicals, "I'm the real thing," and Romney is not. Bill was also rankled by a bookshelf in the ad's background which some analysts thought looked to be a Christian cross. "You juxtapose that [image] with all those other things, there's a subliminal message there ... done intentionally" which makes the commercial "too much."

For his part, Huckabee stayed above the fray although he did say, "If we are so politically correct in this country that we can't say let's pause from the attack ads for a few days and wish Merry Christmas to each other, then we are really, really in trouble." As for the controversial cross image, Huckabee stated that "the bookcase was just a bookcase," although he later confessed that "if you play the spot backwards, it says 'Paul is dead. Paul is dead.'"

While I often feel more like Chuck (Norris, the avid Huckabee advocate who mentioned he could never run for political office himself because he would be tempted to strangle his opponents after such false and/or stupid comments) than Mike, I am happy that Huckabee (no doubt because of his faith) for the most part has taken the high road and handled these situations with humor. So ... no, Bill, every other word Huck utters is not "I'm a Christian," but it disturbs me that someone so dedicated to debunking that pseudo philosophy of separation of church and state (which, of course, is never stated as such in the Constitution) now rejects someone in the public arena that in this case (not to be confused with "bookcase") is really one of our own. When new age Dems, agnostic Independents or "Christ on Sunday only" Republicans rip Huckabee, it's one thing. But when committed Christians and daily Mass Catholics reject the only candidate who understands, lives and fights for the faith, it becomes prophetic if not pathetic. Let us pray to the Babe of Bethlehem that Huckabee's patience will win over "William, the Conqueror" Donohue, much as Stephen's martyrdom helped convert the hardened Saul into the fearless St. Paul. Meanwhile, may Huckabee's Catholic supporters never forget the Prayer to St. Michael, God's archangel and Huckabee's namesake saint, to protect Mike from all the future political attacks that lie ahead on that treacherous campaign trail.

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