SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–Government is too big and taxes are too high because tithes to the church have been too low, the governor of Arkansas said June 7 during the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference at Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center. Mike Huckabee said the blame for society’s ills belongs on the church steps not in state capitols or Washington, D.C. “If those of us in our churches had practiced the biblical role of tithing, if we had been willing to give one dime out of every dollar to help those who are needy, to help widows, to help the orphans, to help the hungry, to help the sick,” Huckabee said funds would be available to help people in the name of Christ. He noted that “50 cents of every dollar now goes to the government to do a very pitiful job of what could have been done effectively and redemptively by the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Republican governor, who is leading in statewide polls in his quest for a second term, said he learned during his 12 years as a Southern Baptist pastor the church’s shortcomings in meeting the needs of a hurting world.
“We’ve got to come to a place where we recognize that it’s not serving ourselves, but it’s serving our Savior that makes all the difference in the world,” said Huckabee, a former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Huckabee said he entered the political arena knowing that government didn’t have the answers but realizing God does. “There is not one thing in the world we can do in those marble hallways of state capitols and under the domes of our buildings that will equal what can be done when Jesus touches the heart and the life of a sinner,” he said. “Government knows quite honestly that it does not have the answers,” Huckabee said. “The tragedy is the church does have the answer but often will cowardly deny that it does and will wonder when are the worlds around us going to be changed.” Restoring the family unit where children are nurtured under the biblical teaching of father and mother is the key to saving society, Huckabee said. “We did not get into this cultural crisis overnight. Will we confront this decadent culture or will we be consumed by it?” Declaring that faith in Christ is the cure for society’s “soul problems,” Huckabee said to pass a thousand new laws each week would still fail to save those alienated from God’s love. “The reason we have so much broken humanity is because sin reigns instead of the Savior in the hearts and the lives of human beings,” he said. Noting that the fastest growing percentage of Arkansas’ annual state budget is for the Department of Corrections ($170 million), Huckabee said the financial burdens are an indictment on the church. He said his loneliest nights as governor over the past two years have occurred five times when he had to preside over the execution of “someone who has exhausted all of his appeals and is put to death.” “The real cost of government today is the cost of the fact that we have failed to do a great deal to rescue human life before it gets to a position of catastrophic crisis,” he said. Huckabee challenged Southern Baptists to be the leaders of racial reconciliation in our society. “Government can make people sit in the same movie theater or go through the same doors of a restaurant, but only God can change the hearts of people so that they can break bread and have real fellowship together,” he said.
After his address, Huckabee was presented with a leather-bound copy of his newest book, “Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence,” released June 1 by Broadman & Holman, the trade publishing division of the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board. The book’s coauthor is George Grant, a regular contributor to World magazine and author of other books on politics, social issues and current events. Huckabee has been criticized by some for allegedly attempting to capitalize on the teenage shooting in Jonesboro, Ark. But B&H officials said they had contacted the governor about the concept of a book addressing the culture of teen violence in America before the Jonesboro tragedy. Huckabee’s first book published by B&H, “Character Is the Issue,” was published in 1997.