Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Zev Chafets of NY Times has written up an 8000+ word article on Huckabee and this part got most of the media attention. The article as a whole is positive.

Chapter 3 also contains the admonition to ‘‘keep sound wisdom and discretion.’’ Huckabee is, indeed, a discreet fellow, but he has no trouble making his feelings known. He mentioned how much he respected his fellow candidates John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani. The name of his principal rival in Iowa, Mitt Romney, went unmentioned. Romney, a Mormon, had promised that he would be addressing the subject of his religion a few days later. I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. ‘‘I think it’s a religion,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t know much about it.’’

I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’
The media has finally succeeded in trapping Gov. Huckabee in 'bigotry'. Maybe not.

Here are the developments of this story:

First, the Huckabee campaign came out with this response:
LITTLE ROCK, AR – A report released tonight cites an upcoming article in the Sunday edition of The New York Times Magazine which quotes former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee asking a question about the content of the Mormon faith. In fact, the full context of the exchange makes it clear that Governor Huckabee was illustrating his unwillingness to answer questions about Mormonism and to avoid addressing theological questions during this campaign.

“Governor Huckabee has said consistently that he believes this campaign should center on a discussion of the important issues confronting our nation,” said Senior Advisor, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, “and not focus on questions of religious belief. He wants to assure persons of all faith traditions of his firm commitment to religious tolerance and freedom of worship. Governor Huckabee believes that one of the great strengths of our nation lies in its diversity of thought, opinion and faith.”
After the debate, Gov. Huckabee personally apologized to Gov. Romney about this situation. He reinstated the fact that there should be no religious test. Period.

Here is Gov. Huckabee on CNN explaining the whole ordeal.

You might be asking, hmm.. Gov. Huckabee has a theology degree and doesn't know what Mormonism is all about? Well, his degree was in biblical studies and no it isn't true that you suddenly become an expert in comparative religions when you major in a different field of study. Usually people take outside time in learning about other religions, Gov. Huckabee hasn't spent time investigating other religions.

Second, you might be asking - A NY TIMES reporter knows what Mormonism is all about? How is that possible? Well, Zev Chafets is very unique in this regard. He wrote this article defending Romney and Mormonism in the LA Times in Feb 2007. Read the article for yourself.

Who is Zev Chafets? Well here is a short bio: ZEV CHAFETS is the author of "A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance." Clearly, Mr. Chafets specializes in religion and is no typical reporter.

I hope this clears up any outstanding doubts about this issue. Gov. Romney accepted the apology and Gov. Huckabee has said that he would absolutely not talk about Mormonism and he said that no one should/should not vote for any candidate because of their religion.
Apparently Mr. Chafets is not willing to corroborate the story. He's not willing to admit it, but he's still hasn't rejected the story.
Reached Wednesday in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he’s writing a book on the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Chafets told Politico: “I asked him the question about Mormonism and whether he thought it was a religion or a cult.

“He said it was a religion, and didn’t know much about it. There was a pause. Then he asked his question,” Chafets continued.

“He can spin it any way he wants. It was on the wires and picked up by candidates, and I can’t be accountable for that,” Chafets said, adding, “I hope that the article, as I wrote it, was entirely in context.”

Lieberman [Chafets' editor] said she also understood that Huckabee’s question “was an unbidden response.”
Chafets wasn't clear in his answer on whether he explained what Mormons believe to Gov. Huckabee. I'm guessing the context is this: Just as the article suggests, Gov. Huckabee asked that question and then Chafets answered his question. Then the Governor asked more questions and they had a mini-conversation about Mormonism.

This is how the article presents the story:
I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’
So my question is, what happened after that? Did Chafets say anything back? It obviously wasn't a rhetorical question. Did Chafets just smile back and say nothing? Or did he actually go in depth about the Mormon faith which led Gov. Huckabee to ask more questions. Remember that this interview was a 4 to 5 hour conversation over a period of a couple days, so it was not a typical 10 minute interview.

Chafets doesn't want to really get in the middle of this and defend Huckabee because they want this article to get more play in the media for business purposes. It's pretty sad, but thats how the media works. The editors look at the columnists notes and also the person's article and try to make additions/deletions as they see it. This one sentence that Chafets used in the article was basically the trigger point for people buy the entire magazine on Sunday. Very unfortunate.

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