TBN's 'Huckabee' seeks civil discourse amid division

Gov. Mike Huckabee welcomed Baptist Press writer Diana Chandler at his Nashville-area studio where TBN will launch “Huckabee” Oct. 7.
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NASHVILLE (BP) -- Civil discourse enabling understanding and nonpartisan solutions will be a main goal of a new talk show featuring Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist pastor and political figure told Baptist Press at his Nashville-area studio Oct. 2.

People with divergent political opinions may learn from the show to understand one another's perspectives, Huckabee noted in one of several interviews he conducted with media outlets in advance of his new show, "Huckabee," launching Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on TBN.

"I'm not suggesting they watch my show and suddenly they have this road-to-Damascus political experience and say, 'Oh I see the light now.' Maybe they will," Huckabee said. "But that's not what I expect to happen.

"But I want them to say, 'You know, I still disagree with that guy, and I think my position is better, but I believe that he really believes that and I understand where he's coming from.' That would alone make America a better place to be."

A pre-taped interview with President Donald Trump is slated to kick off Season 1, which Huckabee said will offer a fun variety including discussions of contemporary issues with entertainment, encouragement and edification. Huckabee's daughter Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Trump's press secretary.

"The focus of this interview, and on most interviews on the show, will be on the 'whys' as much as the 'whats,'" Huckabee said in a TBN press release. "Our audience will not hear the same things they would hear in every other interview on every other channel; we want to give them something they may not know, behind-the-scenes insight about the person and what drives their actions."

The entire series will be civil and cordial, Huckabee said.

"My show is not going to be one where people will talk over each other. They won't yell at each other. I'm not going to have a show that is what I call political ping-pong -- some are on the left, some on the right, just bouncing back with very predictable talking points that I could regurgitate a hundred times a day because I know what they're going to say," he said.

"I want people to help me understand, not so much the 'what' of their belief system; tell me the 'why.' How'd you get there? What was it that led you to the conclusion? Whether it's healthcare or a tax policy," Huckabee said, "tell me how that makes the country better and why you believe it does."

TBN offered the show to Huckabee after his previous self-named show ended a seven-year run on FOX News.

"We couldn't be more excited about bringing this remarkable person to you each week," TBN leaders Matt and Laurie Crouch said in announcing the show. "We believe he is just the welcome voice of wisdom, integrity and faith that America badly needs right now."

Huckabee, Arkansas's governor from 1996–2007, said it was his earlier years as a Southern Baptist pastor that prepared him best for the public square.

"When you're a pastor, there is not a single social pathology that is happening in the world that you couldn't put a name and a face to," Huckabee said, pointing out such societal events and predicaments as the death of a child, opioid addiction, alcoholism, marital failure, financial ruin and betrayal.

"I can't think of any way to better prepare me to one day be a public official than to deal with those very issues with people, but do it from an authentic understanding of where they're coming from," Huckabee said.

"As a pastor, you're talking to those people every day. You're in their homes. You're in their hospital rooms. You know who they are," he said. "You know the people sitting on the front row that everybody believes has it together, you know their real story. And then you know the people that nobody has any confidence in at all, and you know that they're really far, far better than the community may look at them and see."

His 12 years in the pastorate were unexpected, he said, and included six years each at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Ark., and Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana.

Huckabee sought the Republican U.S. presidential nomination in 2008 and in 2016, falling short both times, and is well known for his roles as a public leader, commentator and bestselling author.

"I have strong opinions -- nobody doubts that who reads and hears what I have to say -- but I'm not angry about it. I'm not mad at anybody," he said. "And I'm worried about the folks who are about to blow a gasket every time they read a news story, or every time they hear an opinion that's different than their own. That's frightening.

"Everybody needs to step back, take a deep breath, enjoy life a little bit, realize that none of us have it all figured out."

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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