Did Mike Huckabee learn about Mormons when he was in seminary?

Mormon questions, Mormon answers
Dec. 13 2007 6:38 PM

Did Huckabee Study Mormons in School?

What a Southern Baptist pastor learns in seminary.

Mike Huckabee. Click image to expand.
Mike Huckabee

On Wednesday, Mike Huckabee apologized to fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney for having asked a New York Times reporter, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?" The former Southern Baptist pastor also said that he "thinks" Mormonism is a religion but doesn't know much about it. How much did Huckabee learn about the Mormons in seminary?

It depends on which classes he took. When Huckabee was at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the mid-1970s, Mormon theology was probably taught alongside that of the Jehovah's Witnesses in a course on cults and sects. It might also have been a small part of a survey course focused either on comparative religions or missions. But Huckabee didn't have the opportunity to take a lot of classes—he left his seminary after a year to work for televangelist James Robison, and then became a full-time pastor five years later.

Advertisement

Today, Southern Baptist pastors tend to be most familiar with the religions of competing parishes. In Virginia, this would include Presbyterian and Episcopalian faiths, and in the West, Mormonism. Thirty-five years ago, a pastor who didn't learn about Mormonism in seminary might have gotten some information from the Southern Baptist Convention, which put out material on how to deal with sects and cults. Evangelicals had grown concerned with the spread of Mormonism in the 1960s and 1970s, as figures such as George Romney, governor of Michigan and Mitt Romney's father, gained prominence. In response, some religious leaders began highlighting the differences between Mormons and evangelicals, and inserting anti-Mormon rhetoric into sermons and denominational presentations.

Bonus Explainer: How did Huckabee become a pastor if he spent only a year at seminary? You don't need a master's in divinity, or even ordination, to serve as a pastor in the Southern Baptist faith. Some scholars estimate that at least half of all Baptist pastors don't have a formal theological education. (This is partly related to the denomination's heavy emphasis on biblical authority and personal experience.) Each Southern Baptist church is autonomous and picks its own pastor. A committee of lay leaders will review résumés, listen to candidates preach at other churches, and then invite the final choice to meet the congregation and deliver a sermon "in view of a call" to serve. (Black congregations may invite more than one person to this final round.) Church members elect the pastor they like best.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks R. Alan Culpepper of Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology, Gary Ledbetter of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Bill Leonard of Wake Forest University Divinity School, and Glenn Miller of Bangor Theological Seminary.

Michelle Tsai is a Beijing-based writer working on a book about Chinatowns on six continents. She blogs at ChinatownStories.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.