|If everyone obeyed the Ten Commandments and New Testament, there would be less need for laws to be enforced by the government, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Sunday in a Baptist church.
"Our freedom does not exist in a vacuum," the former Arkansas governor told Sunday-morning worshippers at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. "It exists only when there is moral clarity that guides it. The reason we have so much government and so much law is because it is proportionate to the level of individual capacity that we have of our own moral direction."
"Frankly, we really don't need a lot law if we're people of morality," Huckabee continued. "There are only 10 basic laws that we need. If you think about it, the Ten Commandments cover it all. There's no need for an 11th. Everything that we need in life is covered in the 10. And the reason that law gets more complicated is because we try to figure out clever ways around those 10."
Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and former pastor, took things a step further later in his 10-minute "testimony."
"I hope that you know Jesus Christ personally," he said. "I hope that he is in your life, in your heart, because to the degree to which he rules you and governs you, you need less and less of man's law to tell you how to live. And that is what our founding fathers understood, and we must understand."
Pastor Jonathan Falwell introduced Huckabee as "a dear friend," of both him and his father, the late Jerry Falwell, but did not endorse him. Falwell later explained he would never endorse any candidate from the pulpit.
Jonathan Falwell's brother, however, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., did endorse Huckabee after the candidate spoke at the school last November.
GOP frontrunner Sen. John McCain hurt his chances with the Christian Right in 2000, when he called the senior Falwell and broadcaster Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance" who exercised an "evil influence" in the Republican Party.
McCain and Falwell appeared to mend fences when McCain spoke at Liberty University in May 2006, leading observers to assume that Falwell, who died last May, was supporting his candidacy. But Jerry Falwell Jr. claimed it was Huckabee who actually got his father's endorsement.
"My father supported Huckabee before he was number two in the polls," Falwell said, according to MSNBC.
In his remarks Sunday at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Huckabee said Arkansas changed a law that required the shooters at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998 to be released from custody when they turned 18, because in 161 years of history it never occurred to the Legislature "that we would have 11-year-olds committing mass murder on a school campus."
"So we had to add to the law to compensate for the degeneration of morality that had become part of our culture," Huckabee said. "When I hear today people say, 'Well all of you people who talk about morality just need to keep that separate, because it has nothing to do with this country,' let me just remind us all that the day that we do not have personal responsibility in our own moral commitments, the day that we do understand what is right and what is wrong, is the day that we then have to compensate with additional levels of government."
"The reason that in many places on this earth there is tyranny and dictatorship is because there is not a clear moral code as to right and wrong and what things mean," he said. "And the reason that it is a dangerous direction for us to go when we no longer define life and we can't define marriage as being between a man and a woman is because once we begin to degenerate in our moral clarity, it only means that we will be paying for more and more government to overwhelm us with direction when our own personal freedom conscience does not."
"That's why Jesus said, 'You shall know the truth, and it shall make you free,'" he said. "The degree to which the truth is not in our hearts and in our lives is the degree to which we are enslaved--enslaved against our own moral code and enslaved by more and more of outward restrictions to keep up constrained, because our own inward consciences do not."
"What happens in this church every Sunday, what is spoken from this pulpit every week, what comes forth from the word of God, is not a disconnected message from whether or not we will continue to be a free and great nation," Huckbee said. "Because the day that our nation quits listening to God, and the day that we no longer have moral clarity, is the day that we will have to have increasing levels of government and law to restrain us, because then our own consciences will not."
Huckabee has talked before about his views on the supremacy of God's law. "I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," he said while campaigning in Michigan in January. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do--to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."
Last year Huckabee said he "wouldn't hesitate" to hang the Ten Commandments in the Oval Office.
"The Ten Commandments form the basis of most of our laws and therefore, you know if you look through them, does anybody find anything there that would be all that objectionable?" he said. "I don't think most people would, if they actually read them."
Huckabee said he first met Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, in 1977 while working for evangelist James Robison. That was before Robison took part in a secret meeting organized by Bill Bright in 1979 attended by Jimmy Draper, Charles Stanley, Adrian Rogers, Pat Robertson, Rex Humbard and Billy Graham to discuss switching loyalties from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.