5 Faith Facts about Mike Huckabee, Southern Baptist Pastor-Turned-Politician

Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is no stranger to the pulpit — or politics. The former Fox News Channel host announced May 5 his bid for the GOP nomination for the White House. Here are five facts about this Southern Baptist’s perspectives on faith.

Chick-fil-A Wings in New Direction After Gay Flap

A Chick-fil-A restaurant in Ohio, during early morning. Photo courtesy of Mark Turnauckas via Flickr.

Chick-fil-A is finally crossing the road.

The iconic chicken chain, as well known for its conservative heritage as its savory eats, is recalibrating its moral and culinary compass. It wants to go from old school to almost cool. It wants to evolve from a place where gays once picketed to a place where they’ll feel comfortable going to eat. It wants to broaden the brand as it expands nationally and plows into the Millennial-driven urban arena.

Above all: it wants to be a serious player on fast food’s biggest stage.

CEO Dan Cathy’s comments condemning gay marriage in 2012 set off a store picketing and a social media firestorm. Now he has backed away from such public pronouncements that mix personal opinion on social issues with corporate policy.

Chick-fil-A and An Unexpected Friendship

Cheryl Casey /

Patrons at a Florida Chick-fil-A on National Support Day. Cheryl Casey /

Shane L. Windmeyer, a nationally recognized LGBT leader in higher education, recently ‘came out’ as a friend of Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president and COO, who found himself embroiled in a PR battle after making anti-gay marriage statements. In Windmeyer's  article published in the HuffPost Gay Voices, Shane explains the unusual turn of events that led to his sitting alongside Dan Cathy at college football’s Chick-fil-A Bowl and going public with their friendship.

As the executive director of Campus Pride, the leading national organization for LGBT and ally college students that launched a national campaign against Chick-fil-A, Shane hesitantly took a phone call from Dan last fall. As the two continued their conversation in the months to come, Dan learned more about Shane, the LGBT community, and their perspective of Chick-fil-A’s controversial actions. Shane, too, learned of Dan’s genuinely held beliefs and important details regarding Chick-fil-A’s giving practices.

I find the significance of this article summed up in Shane’s words:

"It is not often that people with deeply held and completely opposing viewpoints actually risk sitting down and listening to one another. We see this failure to listen and learn in our government, in our communities and in our own families."

The Weight

Does anybody else feel this weight?

I woke up this morning in tears. I don’t know why today is different, but I do know the weight is for my brothers and sisters who are in pain.

I imagined what the night was like for folks in my neighborhood who had to fend off threats last night.

I imagine the young girl in a car — against her will or against her first choice — with the guy named John, and I lament for her soul.

I imagine the young guy standing out all night selling death so he can have a little life — whether it’s in the form of food, dignity or just to feel like he is meeting some need, somehow.

I imagine the mom lying in the bed next to someone she would rather not touch, but because he pays the bills for her kids to eat and sleep, she puts up with his abuse and doesn’t say anything about the other woman he also lies with around the corner.

Chick-fil-A Draws Crowds (Not Just for the Waffle Fries)

It could get pretty crowded at Chick-fil-A this week — and not because of the fast-food restaurant's famous waffle fries. 

Supporters and opponents of gay marriage plan to appear at Chick-fil-A locations nationwide after the company's president strongly denounced same-sex relationships.

The restaurant chain with Christian roots — “closed Sunday,” it proudly proclaims — is run by owners with conservative values. Now company President and CEO Dan Cathy has sparked a nationwide food fight by saying he is "guilty as charged" for supporting traditional marriage.

"We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives," Cathy told the Biblical Recorder newspaper. The article was reprinted by Baptist Press on July 16.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has spearheaded “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’’ and, as of Tuesday, more than 500,000 people had pledged on its Facebook page to show up or give support to the restaurant via social media on Wednesday. [Editor's Note: As of 9:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, 853,482 people had said they were "attending" or "maybe attending" Huckabee's event at the fast-food chain.)

Companies Taking A Stand on Political Issues

RNS photo by James Duncan Davidson via Flickr

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos starts his High Order Bit presentation (2005). RNS photo by James Duncan Davidson via Flickr

In an unconventional move, a number of high-profile business executives have come out on the issue of gay marriage. founder Jeff Bezos is the latest to say "I do" to supporting same-sex unions. On July 27, Washington United for Marriage, a coalition that seeks to uphold a gay marriage law that passed in Washington, announced that Bezos and his wife MacKenzie will donate $2.5 million to its cause.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer have each donated $100,000 to the effort to keep gay marriage legal. Ken Powell, CEO of food behemoth General Mills, has publicly spoken out against Minnesota's proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage. And Paul Singer, founder of financial firm Elliott Management, recently contributed $150,000 to Freedom to Marry, which fights for gay marriage across the nation.

... Yet there are also many who support Chick-fil-A and Cathy.

For example, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says he's "incensed" by the negative feedback, and in turn has deemed Aug. 1 "Chick fil-A Appreciation Day," when he's asking consumers to support the chain by eating there.

What Religious Freedom Is — And Is Not

Bible and flag, JustASC /

Bible and flag, JustASC /

Right now, it’s difficult to voice a call for civility surrounding religious debates without backlash that you’re stomping on rights or stifling someone’s voice. But here’s hoping.

Religious freedom. What does it mean, and what were we promised? In Sunday’s New York Times, Ross Douthat — columnist and author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics — points out that we have a guaranteed right not only to religious belief, but to religious exercise. That right to religious exercise, he argues, is violated in cases like the HHS mandate and the Chick-fil-A debacle. 

From Douthat’s piece:

“If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.”

From here, people tend to go to extremes. On one side: boycott everything whose owner you have a philosophical or religious disagreement with on a personal level. But really do it. Sure it’s easy enough to shun fast food, but enough research will likely prove that our American dream to be comfortable far outweighs our attention span. (Please excuse my cynicism, and please let me know if any of you are successful in this endeavor. I’ll tip my hat to you.) 

Of course, it cuts both ways. Extremism comes in a variety of political preferences, so I’ll throw this out there as well: No, there is not a “war on religion” in the United States.