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I’m getting tired of reading that Mike Huckabee dodged a debate question on the death penalty by cracking a joke.  He didn’t dodge the question; he gave a thoughtful and heartfelt answer, then when pressed by Anderson Cooper to presume to speak for Jesus on the issue, he did finally crack a joke which defused the tension.  The exchange is transcribed below, verbatim from the clip on Youtube. (

Question: “Hi, this is Tyler Overman from Memphis Tennessee, and I have a quick question for those of you who would call yourselves ‘Christian conservatives.’  The death penalty: What would Jesus do?”

Huckabee: “You know one of the toughest challenges that I ever faced as a governor was carrying out the death penalty.  I did it more than any other governor ever had to do it in my state.  As I look on this stage, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person on this stage that’s ever actually had to actually do it.  Let me tell you it was the toughest decision I ever made as a human being.  I read every page of every document of every case that ever came before me because it was the one decision that came to my desk that once I made it, was irrevocable.  Every other decision, somebody else could go back and overturn, could fix if it was a mistake.  That was one that was irrevocable.  I believe there is a place for a death penalty.  Some crimes are so heinous, so horrible, that the only response that we as a civilized nation have for a most uncivil action is not only to try to deter that person from ever committing that crime again, but also as a warning to others that some crimes truly are beyond any other capacity for us to fix.  (applause)  Now having said that, there are those who say, ‘How can you be pro-life and believe in a death penalty?’  Because there’s a real difference between the process of adjudication where a person is deemed guilty after a thorough judicial process and is put to death by all of us citizens under a law, as opposed to an individual making a decision to terminate a life that has never been deemed guilty because the life never was given a chance to even exist. 

Anderson Cooper: Governor…

Huckabee: That’s the fundamental difference.

Anderson Cooper: “I do have to, though, press though, the question which – the – the question was, from the view was, ‘What would Jesus do?’  Would Jesus support the death penalty?”

Huckabee: “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson.  That’s what Jesus would do.”



  1. Actually, Jesus denounced politics all together. “My reign is not of this present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my reign is not here” (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or program. “Let Caesar have what belongs to him, and God have what belongs to him” (Matthew 22:21). “Do not be called Rabbi, since you have only one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, the one in heaven. And do not be called leaders, since you have only one leader, the Messiah” (Matthew 23:8-10). Politicking is a very material and power-hungry activity. The definition is to promote “oneself or one’s policies.” This goes against everything we know of what Jesus said.

  2. Jesus didn’t live in a representative democracy. I’m inclined to believe that He would approve of people trying to better their society with what means are available.

  3. I have to disagree on several levels (this is not an attack, but a calm discussion).

    Jesus repeatedly said He was not concerned with human laws or human institutions whatsoever. If He was, He said He and his supporters would have easily changed them. The quotes in my previous comment are clear to me. He was concerned with the human soul. He blasted the religious and social leaders of the time, not because it wasn’t a democracy, but because power corrupts. “Whoever would be first must become the last of all and the servant of all.” Although they call serving for public office being a “public servant,” we all know they end up rich and serving themselves. They call the President the most powerful man on earth. During His temptation, Jesus was offered all the kingdoms on earth. He refused. We’re human.

    A Christian running for office gets the support of other Christians, but does he or she really spread the word about Christ? Are they really trying to live by his example? Most non-Christians who see Christians in office focus on the hypocrisy of their actions. I have never heard of anyone saying they converted to Christianity because of a Christian politician. Public office puts people in positions where it is impossible to maintain one’s integrity. You can’t serve two masters-God and the people. When you devote so much time, energy, and desire to such a material thing; aren’t you breaking the first commandment?

    Lastly, when you say “with what means are available,” you are on a very slippery slope. This opens the door for fundamentalism and religious fascism. The Islamic terrorists say they are bettering society with what means are available. Again, Jesus had every means available to Him to better society. How did He spend his time here?

    I think this is perhaps the most difficult thing to understand about Jesus’ teachings, because we are human and are so caught up in the materials of this world. His disciples struggled with this as well, and it frustrated Him.

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