The Congresswoman from the 6th District of Minnesota, on behalf of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and in the midst of the second greatest economic crisis in our nation's history, took time yesterday to deliver a letter to President Obama. The purpose of the penned missive was not to offer solutions to the bad economy, or lack of jobs, or the impasse about taxes, or how to pay down the deficit, but instead to formally admonish the President of the United States of America for not saying "God" and "Creator" often enough in his public speeches. I did not make this up. According to an article in The Huffington Post : "In neglecting to use the word "God,' they [Bachmann and the Congressional Prayer Caucus] say Obama is "casting aside an integral part of American society.'"
The subtext is, of course, that the president isn't sufficiently Christian, at least not in the loony-tunes evangelical sense that fires Bachmann's fundamentalist soul or that led Bachmann's close friend, fellow fundamentalist and financial supporter, Tim Lahaye, to become fabulously wealthy on the strength of his lamentable pulp fiction of bad theology in 16 volumes and one movie called The Left Behind series.
Bachmann's in-his-face opposition to Obama on religious grounds is not new. She has espoused the belief more than a few times that Obama not a committed Christian and has alluded to her suspicions that he might be a closet Muslim. This is the same Michele Marie Bachmann who has publicly questioned the patriotism of liberal members of Congress and who, in addition to smearing his faith, routinely refers to Obama as a socialist. She has also called for an armed insurrection against the government, if, in her view, the United States under the God she believes in turns too liberal.
Her political posture on the role of religion in relation to the state does not recognize its Constitutional separation, and would instead have the United States of America become what Christopher Hitchens, in a debate with Tony Blair last week, characterized as "a divine version of North Korea." Cloaked in her version of fundamentalism she publicly admits that she is awaiting The Rapture. And that she doesn't plan to be "left behind."
It's worth noting that Congresswoman Bachmann was reelected on November 2, 2010, defeating Tarryl Clark by a margin of 52% to 40% of the vote. It is also worth noting that she spent $8.5 million on her campaign, more than any other congressional representative in America and twice that of her Democratic challenger. That's a lot of Left Behind sales.
But financial backing aside, one has to wonder about the collective mindset of 52% of the voters of the 6th District. Do they also worry about the president's relationship with God as evidenced by the number of times in public he utters the words "the Creator?" Do they worry more about that issue than about the economy? Or--and this is admittedly dark--do they somehow believe those two issues to be related? That perhaps if this were simply a purely Christian nation all of our problems would disappear? Maybe with The Rapture?
Bachmann's fundamentalist views on religion are more than merely curious. While running for office in 2006 she was a member of a "church that is part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, whose doctrine teaches that the Roman Catholic papacy is the Antichrist identified in Scripture." She denied that she or her church believed that, and soon after her denial, she changed churches. It was also during this 2006 election cycle that she won the attention and support of evangelical fundraiser James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who distributed 250,000 flyers to area churches supporting her candidacy. And it was this candidate and this particular campaign that elicited the prominent support of Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and Dennis Haskert.
Not surprisingly, since her election in 2006 she has been a stalwart Republican of the most conservative Christian kind, opposed to anything like "the public good" from health care reform to--most recently--unemployment insurance. This should not be surprising, given that she currently ranks 21st out of 435 members of Congress on the insurance company payroll. Opposed as she obviously is to legislation that would require insurance companies to pay for much of anything, I have to wonder if her fundamentalist views on religion don't also inform her views on the unemployed. Perhaps they, too, should be "left behind."
She is also against "unfunded liabilities" (Glenn Beck's term) such as social security and Medicare. She has publicly expressed support for keeping a nuclear strike on Iran a real option. And--no surprises here--she has introduced legislation that would require schools to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. All in all, 6th District Congresswoman from Minnesota Michele Bachmann presents us with the complete extremist right-wing package.
Michele Bachmann defines what is wrong with America, and with the sorry partisan state of American politics. She is purposefully divisive. She wraps her naked political ambitions in an American flag made not out of the blood and sacrifice of our heroes, but out of a cheap patriotism and huckster religion. She is a bought and paid for corporate lackey who buys elections with insurance money and evangelical book sales, and hides behind her Christian faith to sanction almost criminal, certainly unethical behavior.
I say to those of you who profess a Christian faith: Is this the woman, and are these the views, that you support? Because I do not believe you do. To those of you not of the Christian faith, but of whatever faith, I ask: Why are you silent when she speaks in ways that must offend you?
We must be united in our opposition to Michele Bachmann. We must affirm that we are not cowered by her ridiculous demands or those of the Congressional Prayer Caucus that she represents. Each of us is, as an American citizen, free to worship God in the way we choose or choose not to, that is our Constitutional guarantee. There is nothing about the presidency that requires a quantitative assessment of "God" utterances in public speeches as a test of faith.
So God bless you, Michele Bachmann. Honestly. And within that blessing, may God please open your mind and your heart.