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.’’Earlier in the article, Chafets also references the devil — who, I think, appalls most NYT readers not because they fear Hell but because they fear those who concern themselves with the famous old supernatural malefactor. The context is that Huckabee is glowing over the endorsement of Tim LaHaye, author of the ‘‘Left Behind’’ series:
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?’’
Recently [LaHaye] donated a hockey rink to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, although some members of the faculty there deride ‘‘Left Behind’’ as science fiction. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, has no such reservations. He considers the ‘‘Left Behind’’ books, in which the world comes to a violent end as Jesus triumphs over Satan, a ‘‘compelling story written for nontheologians.’’Is Chafets trying to get readers to think that Huckabee is more benighted than a Liberty University professor? What actually is the difference between viewing the books as "science fiction" or as a "story for nontheologians"? Is it that those faculty members "deride" the story while Huckabee finds it "compelling"? But those unnamed faculty members don't stand to benefit from the endorsement of a very popular author, and there's actually nothing inconsistent between ridiculing the scenario in those books and acknowledging that the story works very well to engage some people in thinking about religion.
Satan horns his way into the article again when Chafets sits down to lunch with Huckabee:
Lunch with Mike Huckabee is a study in faith-based dieting. He has lost 110 pounds in recent years, a feat he chronicled in a book, ‘‘Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork.’’ This has given Huckabee something to talk about on daytime television. More important, it has lent him evangelical street cred. An important part of the evangelical narrative is overcoming the devil. But Huckabee was seemingly born born-again. Luckily for him, gluttony counts as a sin, Crisco as a Christian chemical dependency. By the time he reached 40, Huckabee had packed more than 300 pounds onto his 5-foot-11 frame. Then he began wrestling, calorie by calorie, with Satan.Damn! Why won't Huck give Chafets the religious nuggets he so craves?
Huckabee ordered soup and a sandwich without drama or comment and began talking about rock ’n’ roll.
This is his regular warm-up gambit with reporters of a certain age, meant to convey that he is a cool guy for a Baptist preacher. Naturally I fell for it...... but not hard enough to resist adding Satan! to the text of the article even though Huckabee apparently hadn't even mentioned religion at this point.
... and asked who he would like to play at his inaugural. ‘‘I’ve got to start with the Stones,’’ Huckabee said. The governor regards 1968 as the dawning of ‘‘the age of the birth-control pill, free love, gay sex, the drug culture and reckless disregard for standards.’’ The Rolling Stones album ‘‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’’ provided the soundtrack for that annus terribilis.Satan again! Is Satan tempting Chafets? And why not tell us about "Sympathy for the Devil"? That came out in 1968. "Satanic Majesties Request" was released in 1967 and contained candyass songs like "She's a Rainbow." Maybe the editor decided it was high time to strike one Satan reference.
But Mike Huckabee wanted me to know that he believes in the separation of church and stage."Church and stage"? Oh, so that's not a typo? It's a Huckabee joke that's been processed into near imperceptibility.
You put all that Satan into the article and then you don't let us get the feeling for how he really talks about Satan? And the big quote everyone's going to get from the article is the one I've put in the title to this post, which leaves Huckabee — perhaps a kindly and humorous guy — looking... devilish.