Huckabee Silent About Religious Beliefs

Republican presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talks to employees as he tours the Principal Financial Group, Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Maintaining his silence about his religious beliefs, Republican and Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee declined Thursday to outline his views on women in the ministry but praised a presidential rival for speaking about his own faith.

Huckabee said he did not see Mitt Romney's speech Thursday in which the former Massachusetts governor vowed to serve the interests of the nation, not the Mormon church he worships in, if elected president. But he praised Romney for doing it.

"I think it's a good thing and healthy for all of us for people to discuss faith in the public square," Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, said outside a private fundraiser. "I have nothing but respect for his coming forth and sharing what he did. I've been very clear about my own personal views. I think all of us who seek the office of president should be candid with the American people."

But asked whether he believes women should serve in a church's pastoral leadership - an oft-discussed issue among Southern Baptist congregations - Huckabee said the topic shouldn't be a campaign issue, and he kept quiet about his views.

"It's so irrelevant to being president that I wouldn't even get into that," Huckabee said before meeting with about 350 supporters at the start of a three-day swing through the Carolinas. "Churches have different views on that and my personal views are completely immaterial as it would relate to being president."

Huckabee has given the same explanation every time he has declined to discuss his views on the creation of the earth. Pressed on why, as an active Baptist preacher, he wouldn't detail the inner-workings of his faith for Christian voters, Huckabee said Baptists have so many different opinions about the details of Biblical doctrine.

"When you get down into the weeds of the doctrine, frankly, where two or more Baptists are gathered together, there are at least seven different opinions," he said. "There's no such thing as what I'd call an 'absolute Baptist theology."'

The ordained minister added that he's happy to discuss his faith generally and the role it plays in his life.

"I think I've probably been asked far more questions about my faith than Mitt Romney's been asked about his," Huckabee said. "Maybe I ought to be doing the 'God speech' out there. I might even include an altar call and an offering with mine."

Huckabee was a minister at several Arkansas churches and was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention before entering politics.

Meanwhile, while in Florida, Rudy Giuliani said he agreed with Romney's assertions about religion and the presidency, declaring that "there is no religious test for office, there should be no religious test for office."

"You would wish that everybody would move beyond that," said Giuliani, visiting Sarasota to collect the endorsement of a national group of retired New York City police officers. He said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, "did what he thought he had to do" in addressing the issue in the speech.

"We're a country that is based on religious freedom, and we're a country in which we respect each other's right to have different views about religion, about God, about our belief in God," said Giuliani, who is Catholic. "I think the governor made that point very clearly today. I can't imagine anybody disagreeing with that."