Sunday, December 30, 2007

Huckabee's "Umbrella" of Authority

I've been fascinated by Mike Huckabee's rise in popularity in Iowa. I was actually surprised that this didn't happen sooner as he's the one "true believer" in the GOP presidential fold. He has a lot of fans -- people who see him as a true moral leader who will be both President and Pastor to the nation.

So, it was with great interest that I read a piece by Bob Allen at Ethics Daily about Huck's connections to Bill Gothard and his "Institute of Basic Youth Principles." If you don't know about Bill Gothard, you might be interested in knowing that he advocates an extreme version of patriarchalism. One of his favorite illustrations is that of the father as the "umbrella" of protection over the family. Like Robert Filmer's patriarchalism of another era -- all authority is familial and goes back to Adam. Thus, the President is the umbrella of protection over the nation. Filmer's 17th century theories, were, of course used to buttress divine right monarchy.
Back in the 1970s he was very popular -- I went twice to his "Basic Seminar," which filled the University of Oregon's Mac Court. Bill wasn't there in person -- we watched it on video feed. I also attended a Pastor's Seminar in Portland in 1981. I was youth minister then in a very conservative congregation whose pastor was a firm believer in Gothard's message (though he lacked the hard edge of some Gothardites). I have long since tossed by big red notebook, but I'm one of they millions of alumni -- just an apostate one!

According to Allen Huckabee is a big fan and has incorporated Gothard programs in Arkansas.

"As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people," Huckabee wrote in a letter promoting Gothard's prison ministry. Arkansas prisons had been using Gothard seminars and materials since 1996.

Huckabee also
endorsed Gothard's "Character Cities" program. Gothard described a meeting in Little Rock as laying groundwork for "the most exciting opportunity I can imagine" to merge his institute's teachings with government programs.

Now I don't think Mike can win in the end, but this alliance should be troubling to Americans. It is not an egalitarian program and it runs counter to what I believe is the American spirit. It will be interesting if this begins to come out and what Mike has to say in this regard.