Is Huckabee's Faith Too Strong for the White House?

Faith and politics has played a prominent role in this presidential race, but some are wondering if the biggest religion card player – former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee – has gone too far with mixing religion and public duty.

A look at the former Arkansas governor's records shows that he didn't shy away when he felt God needed to be defended in legislation.

In 1997, after a tornado ripped through the town of Arkadelphia, Ark., the then Gov. Huckabee had spent over three weeks battling his state's legislators over legal terminology in a disaster insurance bill that referred to natural disasters as "acts of God."

Huckabee argued that God could not be blamed for the region's destruction, countering the centuries-old legal terminology and the state's legislature, the General Assembly. The dispute made local headlines and created tension with other state legislators, some of which called him "petty."

"'Petty' is the best word to describe him," said Dennis R. Young, a state representative at the time who sponsored the relief measure, according to the Los Angeles Times. "In these kinds of things, he'd make mountains out of molehills."

Yet the small-town pastor turned Arkansas governor did not give in and in the end the two sides agreed on the substitute term "natural causes."

The faith of Huckabee, unlike most other politicians, has always been the centerpiece of his politics – as seen on day one of his tenure as Arkansas governor.

His inaugural day began with a prayer service at a Baptist church in Little Rock which he later recalled as "almost like an ordination service."

During his time as governor, 1996 to 2007, Huckabee banned smoking and swearing in the governor's office and used the Bible to explain his concern for the environment, his stance against abortion, and his efforts to improve the lives of African-Americans in his state.

"When I became governor of Arkansas in 1996," Huckabee wrote in his book "Character Makes a Difference," published last year. "I recognized the same moral authority – God's authority – that I did as a pastor … I not only want to know Him, I want others to be able to see Him through the decisions I make and by the way I make them."

Others, however, disagree with Huckabee over the idea of how personal faith should play that big of a role in public office or in the presidential race.

Mark DeMoss – a fellow Southern Baptist leader and outspoken supporter of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney – argues that the most important qualification when electing someone to public office is proven ability to manage the country rather than the religion litmus test.

"I believe faith plus character plus experience plus competence is a recipe for the ideal presidential candidate," wrote DeMoss in an opinion piece posted on the Web site Beliefnet.com. "But faith alone should neither disqualify one from getting my vote, nor guarantee that they will."

The Christian public relations guru added that a candidate's "character cannot be overstated" but that his or her "faith can be" and in "this election probably has been."

While DeMoss's candidate, Mitt Romney, has been fending off suspicions over his Mormon faith, Huckabee has been soaring in polls in Iowa and South Carolina, riding on the wave of support from evangelical Christians.

Conservative Christians have been increasingly shifting their support from Romney to Huckabee due to their expressed discomfort with the Mormon faith, which many Christians view as a cult.

Huckabee, on the other hand, is a member of the largest protestant denomination in the United States – the Southern Baptist Convention, which boasts more than 16 million members.

However, voters will ultimately decide whether faith will play a large role in determining a president's electability.

Huckabee's "Christian leader" campaign will be put to the ultimate test this Thursday during the Iowa caucuses – the first GOP nominating state.