But more important than the political implications of the “Christian candidate” are the grave theological effects this preoccupation produces. The explicit identification of one man as the candidate for Christians to support (and, though this corollary is usually left unspoken, the candidate God supports) fundamentally misdefines what it means to follow Jesus.

This was most succinctly typified by a pre-presidential campaign Mike Huckabee, who in 2004 “took a phone call from God” while on stage at a Republican Governors Association event. The skit featured God telling Huckabee to deliver a message on his behalf (the conveniently vague “Take care of the family, and marriage, and the people of America, and all the people, and the children”). Huckabee replied, supposedly to God’s pleasure, “We know you don’t take sides in the election” — the audience laughs at such a silly humility — “but if you did we kinda think you’d hang in there with [the Republicans], Lord, we really do.”

And thus, while saying the exact opposite, Huckabee in three minutes reduces the Christian God to an American tribal deity and the Christian faith to a tool of political success.