Published December 6, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (BP) —A unique CNN/YouTube Republican debate lived up to its ask-anything acclaim Nov. 28 when three of the top candidates were asked if they believed “every word” of the Bible.
The debate among the eight contestants was held in St. Petersburg, Fla., five weeks before Iowa will hold its caucuses on an earlier-than-usual Jan. 3. Florida’s primary is scheduled for Jan. 29.
The format featured questions submitted in the form of Internet streaming videos, one of which showed a man holding a Bible and asking if the candidates believed “every word of this Book.”
“I believe it, but I don’t believe it’s necessarily literally true in every single respect,” said former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who leads the field in national polls but trails in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
“I believe it’s the Word of God,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose Mormon beliefs have received much attention during the campaign. “I mean, I might interpret the Word differently than you interpret the Word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I don’t disagree with the Bible. I try and live by it.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, formerly a Baptist minister, said he believes the Bible is the “Word of revelation to us from God Himself.” He also said some parts of the Bible, such as “Go and pluck out your eye,” are allegorical.
“The fact is that when people ask do we believe all of it, you either believe it or you don’t believe it,” he said. “... But the Bible has some messages that nobody really can confuse and [are] really not left up to interpretation. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ And ‘as much as you’ve done it to the least of these brethren, you’ve done it unto Me.’
“... [T]here are parts of it I don’t fully comprehend and understand,” Huckabee added, “because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite God, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their God is too small.”
Huckabee was also asked “what would Jesus do” regarding the death penalty.
Huckabee said considering death penalty cases as governor was one of the toughest decisions he ever had to make because it was irrevocable. Some crimes, he said, “are so heinous, so horrible” that the death penalty is the only way a civilized nation can “try to deter that person from ever committing that crime again,” warning others “that some crimes truly are beyond any other capacity for us to fix.”
Being pro-life and supporting the death penalty is not contradictory, Huckabee said.
“[T]here’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, as 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.”
Not satisfied with Huckabee’s answer, host Anderson Cooper again asked, “Would Jesus support the death penalty?”
“Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson,” Huckabee said, drawing laughter. “That’s what Jesus would do.”
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