July 17, 2011

Bachmann in Trouble over Extreme Church Views

July 17, 2011. Woodbury, MN. Is the Catholic Pope really the anti-Christ? There seems to be some confusion over Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s religious views. Normally, political pundits try to steer away from religion. But when any particular candidate cloaks themselves in their religious beliefs, it generally becomes an open invitation for scrutiny. Just as then Senator Obama nearly lost the race for President over his ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Michele Bachmann is now being forced to either embrace her Church’s extremist views, or officially walk away.

Rep. Bachmann is already facing serious questions regarding Federal subsidies she may or may not have received on her family farm and government payments to her family medical clinic. Read the Whiteout Press article 'Bachmann in Trouble Over Financial Disclosures'. So far, Congresswoman Bachmann hasn’t been very honest in her response. Instead of embracing her Church’s teachings, or condemning them and walking away the same way the President had to walk away from Rev. Wright, Rep. Bachmann appears to be playing a game of keep-away with her religious views and affiliations.

The journey begins in 2006 during Bachmann’s race for Congress. During an election debate, the event’s moderator asked Bachmann the following question:

“The church you belong to is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which, it says, regards the Roman Catholic pope as the Anti-Christ. Is this true? Do you share the views of your church? And why should any Catholic in the Sixth District vote for you if it is true?”

Bachmann’s response begins the dishonest politicking on her part:

“Well that's a false statement that was made. And I spoke with my pastor earlier today about that as well, and he was absolutely appalled that someone would put that out. It's abhorrent. It's religious bigotry. I love Catholics. I'm a Christian and my church does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that's absolutely false.”

No, that’s absolutely true, even according to the Church itself. The only person in North America who apparently is in denial, is Congresswoman Bachmann herself.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod goes so far as to explain their controversial belief on their website, “As Martin Luther grew in his appreciation of the Gospel, he also grew in his recognition that the Papacy is the Antichrist”. According to the Christian Post, a 1954 WELS pamphlet entitled ‘Antichrist’ put it this way, ‘It was because Luther cherished the Gospel so dearly that his faith instinctively recoiled and protested in unmistakable terms when the Pope put himself in the place of Christ and declared His work insufficient and in vain.”

Bachmann’s Pastor, Rev. Marcus Birkhotz, clarified and confirmed the Church’s teachings saying they, “primarily view the office of the papacy as the Antichrist, not the individual Popes themselves.”

While candidate Bachmann publicly stands by her Lutheran Church, privately, she and her family appear to have changed religions. After contacting the Congresswoman’s Church for confirmation, the Christian Post reports, ‘According to the director of communications of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Joel Hochmuth, the 55-year-old congresswoman was released from her family’s membership on June 21, six days before she formally announced her candidacy for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination’.

Quoting a spokeswoman for Bachmann’s congressional office, Becky Rogness, the Christian Post also said the congresswoman had been attending a non-denominational church in the Stillwater, MN area without giving the name of the church. “As the family’s schedule has allowed, they have attended their current church throughout the past two years” the spokeswoman said.

How are Catholics responding to Michele Bachmann’s views on them?

The Catholic League’s President, Bill Donohue, responded this morning:

“The Catholic League finds it regrettable that there are still strains of anti-Catholicism in some Protestant circles, but we find no evidence of any bigotry on the part of Rep. Michele Bachmann. Indeed, she has condemned anti-Catholicism. Just as President Barack Obama is not responsible for the views of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rep. Bachmann must be judged on the basis of her own record. However, just as Sen. John McCain had to answer questions about his affiliation with Pastor John Hagee and Sen. Barack Obama had to answer questions about his affiliation with Rev. Wright, it is not inappropriate to ask some pointed questions of Rep. Bachmann and her religion’s tenets.”

So while Catholic Americans appear to be taking Rep. Bachmann at her word, they are also waiting for her to publicly distance herself from the controversial beliefs. And while the candidate continues to tout her membership and loyalty to her Lutheran faith, she is reported to have switched to a non-denominational Church more than a month ago.

Most American’s cherish their country’s separation of Church and State. But for an Evangelical candidate like Bachmann who often appears to support a government based on religious theocracy instead of non-religious democracy, she’s going to have to do some quick explaining to the 69,000,000 American Catholics. Representing a quarter of the entire US population, Catholics are also heavily represented in the Republican Party.

If Rep. Bachmann is to have any chance at all of winning the GOP nomination, she’s going to have to make some sort of official statement. And if she takes her candidacy even the slightest bit seriously, she’ll have to do a little better than insisting a policy that is there for all the world to see, doesn’t exist and is a lie. Continuing to deny something so universally acknowledged only serves to make the Congresswoman appear to be as extreme as her critics are claiming.

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