|Vision America founder Rick Scarborough is defending presidential candidate Mike Huckabee against those who criticize him for sitting out the Southern Baptist Convention's theological wars.
In a WorldNetDaily column, Scarborough said some people question Huckabee's conservative credentials because they say he was a "no-show" in the fight against "liberalism," a charge Scarborough said is "not completely accurate."
Scarborough said he first met Huckabee more than 30 years ago, while both were students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Scarborough said there was "significant liberalism" on the campus, and students typically responded in one of three ways. Some "drank the 'Kool-Aid'" of the latest liberal fad, others were conservative but tried to avoid conflict, and some "were there on a mission to prepare to change the world and for whom Christ was their first love and winning souls their passion."
"Mike and I gravitated to each other because we hung with students in the third category," Scarborough said. "During those days Huckabee joined the staff of James Robison, who at that time was the leading soul winning evangelist in the Southern Baptist Convention. After seminary, I entered full-time evangelism and had the privilege of preaching a crusade in a church in Arkansas where Mike Huckabee was their beloved pastor. Together we witnessed scores of people give their hearts to Jesus and many joined his church."
Scarborough said the two men took different strategies in relating to the "conservative resurgence" that was taking place in the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
"Always the warrior, I jumped in with both feet, doing all I could to expose theological liberalism in our denomination," Scarborough said. "In 1989, I ran for president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In the process, I ran an aggressive campaign, naming names of liberals in both churches and educational institutions. In the end, I was defeated by a significant margin."
"Mike took a different approach in Arkansas, which resulted in his being elected to the office of president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention," Scarborough said.
Scarborough said Huckabee's "gentler approach" proved prudent, as he succeeded not only in being elected president of the state's Southern Baptists but also to public office.
"It seems that the narrow view of some is that he would be a better candidate today had he stood up during the battle for a denomination," Scarborough said. "Had he done so, he would never have been the chief executive officer of the State of Arkansas for 10 years, and we would not even be discussing his presidential candidacy now."
"I choose to believe that God, in His sovereignty, orchestrated that chain of events," Scarborough said. "Now we have a viable and competent candidate in Mike Huckabee, who also happens to be a committed Christian."
Scarborough said Huckabee isn't a "perfect" candidate, but he believes Christian leaders have spent too much time debating which of the front-runner Republicans "they dislike the least."
"Over and again I have been encouraged by men I admire to be patient," he said. "But I submit that our patience has moved beyond prudence, and we are increasingly being viewed as irrelevant. I would submit that our mistake has been that we have been looking for perfection in a candidate, which can only lead to frustration."
Scarborough said whenever Huckabee is exposed to "values voters," like a September event in Florida or the recent briefing in Washington, "he is their clear choice."
"I suggest that God may be sending us a lifeline," he said. "Who better to lead a nation nearing moral collapse and perhaps World War III than a president who is also a pastor with 10 years of senior executive experience as a governor? Many in the secular press are now reporting that he is a legitimate first-tier candidate whose star is rising while others are fading. Millions of voters are gravitating to him."
Scarborough said some criticize the former governor for "his redefining values as social justice."
"My response is as Christians and values voters, we must include social justice," he said. "Can you imagine Jesus ignoring the plight of the disenfranchised and downtrodden while going after the abortionist? This is not an either/or policy question."
Scarborough also defended Huckabee's positions on the environment. "I would suggest that as stewards of God resources, there needs to be a fresh look at this issue, and while we may not agree on causes or solutions, I can assure you that citizens in this nation and many Christians in the pews will not be kind to a version of Christianity or politics that refuses to address this area of wide concern," he said. "Huckabee is forcing Republicans to discuss this issue, and that is healthy."
Scarborough's endorsement comes on the heels of that of another WorldNetDaily contributor, columnist and action star Chuck Norris, who announced he is supporting Huckabee Oct. 21.
"Like most of you, over the summer and into the fall, I've been watching, listening, studying and praying about who could lead this country as our next president," Norris wrote.
"I won't leave you in suspense. Though Giuliani might be savvy enough to lead people, Fred Thompson wise enough to wade through the tides of politics, McCain tough enough to fight terrorism and Romney business-minded enough to grow our economy, I believe the only one who has all of the characteristics to lead America forward into the future is ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee."
"Friends, it's time for people to get off the bench and onto the playing field," Norris appealed. "If we are going to see a man like Mike Huckabee elected, it's time to rally behind him, support him financially, pray for him daily and spread the word of his character, platform and experience."
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.