A friend and Baptist leader from Arkansas called yesterday. Our conversation rested mostly on two topics: former Arkansas governor and rising presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, and the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant set for late January.
The two intersect at the point in which Huckabee accepted and then rejected, last spring, an offer to speak at the pan-Baptist gathering.
It was widely perceived that Huckabee, then trying to jump-start his campaign, didn’t want to offend the fundamentalist leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention who are not participating in the event.
Huckabee even used some of their familiar criticism that the Celebration was a liberal disguise to promote Democratic politics. The irony, of course, is that the Republican Huckabee is the only presidential candidate in either party to be invited to address the group.
Recently, Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics called on organizers to re-invite Huckabee.
Yet I have never heard that his invitation was rescinded. The ball seems to be in Baptist preacher/governor’s court.
At this point, everything has to do with political perception. Presidential candidates and campaigns are always calculating the next move.
One has to wonder whether Huckabee and his campaign — after a recent surge to the topside of the polls — feel dissing a large gathering of ethnically and theologically diverse Baptists was a wise move.
One sure bet is there are a slew of presidential candidates on both sides that would go out of their way to have that opportunity.
The danger for Huckabee, as a fellow Baptist and now viable candidate, is that his message sounds to some of us like he wants to be president of all Americans — except perhaps some Baptists.
We’ve experienced enough of that kind of rejection from fellow Baptists over the past two decades, thank you.