Mike Huckabee wants pastors to be more graphic about Christmas. The former Southern Baptist pastor says that the church has sanitized the holiday and should tell it like it happened. The former governor of Arkansas recently finished his 64-city book tour for his book A Simple Christmas, which was No. 5 on The New York Times bestseller list this week. Huckabee spoke with Christianity Today during his tour in mid-November about his book, the Middle East, and his future in the Republican Party.

You say the church has sanitized Christmas. As a former pastor, how do you think ministers can help their congregations better understand Christmas?

The best way is to be more graphic in the way they understand the humble, humiliating, and horrible circumstances under which Mary gave birth. This was not a neat, clean, quiet, peaceful, tranquil, serene setting where the Hallelujah Chorus was going off in the background. The sky wasn't lighting up with fireworks from heaven. This was a scared, young, unwed teen mother, away from home, with nobody there to help her as far as we know. She goes into labor and has to hurriedly find a place to have the baby, and the best she could find was a little cave where sheep and goats were kept. Under the best of circumstances, sleeping out in the barn with sheep and goats isn't very pleasant, but having been to Bethlehem and seen the grotto, it's obviously not a very comfortable site.

I think sometimes we have a picture of it like the Nativity scenes, and everybody's standing around very quiet like they could just sing "Silent Night." I think what matters about that, and the reason I try to talk about it in the book, is I want to say to people that often we have the feeling, "God, you wouldn't understand. ...

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Q & A: Mike Huckabee
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