… of being asked whether he really believes all that crazy stuff.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher who has surged in Iowa with evangelical Christian support, bristled Tuesday when asked if creationism should be taught in public schools.

Huckabee – who raised his hand at a debate last May when asked which candidates disbelieved the theory of evolution – asked this time why there is such a fascination with his beliefs.

“I believe God created the heavens and the Earth,” he said at a news conference with Iowa pastors who murmured, “Amen.”

“I wasn’t there when he did it, so how he did it, I don’t know,” Huckabee said.

But Mike Huckabee’s latest campaign video prominently pitches him as a “Christian Leader” — a reason why you should vote for him, presumably — and so it’s entirely reasonable to ask exactly what that means to him, and to wonder what the implications of it are for the rest of us.

That, by the way, is exactly what the evangelical right has been saying about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism: It’s the old business of the goose, and the gander, and all that.

I can understand his irritation, though I can’t sympathize with it. The people who attend church have generally been trained since infancy to the belief that preachers have special cosmic knowledge inaccessible to the rest of us, and the skeptics just stay away from church, and so preachers are rarely confronted with challenges to the actual premises of their worldview itself. Yes, there might occasionally be disputes about whether or not a known fallen woman should be permitted to sing in the choir, even if she has repented and can be relied upon to hit a high-C when necessary, but that’s about as serious as it ever gets; everybody in the club officially agrees that Genesis is absolutely true, because the Bible is Inerrant and so there’s no need to risk discord by quibbling over the details.

One might suppose that, being the Governor of Arkansas and all, Huckabee should be better prepared for the rough and tumble of public life and to answer these sorts of questions. But … Mike Huckabee is from Arkansas, where even Bill Clinton is considered A Great Man, which proves that razorbacks have grave judgement problems and are probably not the best audience for preparing a man for prime time.

Once upon a time, these sorts of questions never came up. Everyone understood that religion is used to mobilize the votes of simpletons who really care about their superstitions, but there was a sort of gentlemanly understanding that candidates wouldn’t be made to sound insane by forcing them to say aloud the very things they claim to believe, e.g.,

“I, Cyrus Boom, believe unreservedly that the child now growing in my wife’s womb is foul and depraved and a stench in God’s nostrils and, already, under a just sentence of death.”

It was the evangelical right that made it an issue, and now they have their reward.

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” It’s in the Inerrant Bible.

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