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Michele Bachmann Lies About Her Own Family History To Sound More Iowan

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In her speech at the March 24 and 25 Rediscover God in America conference in Iowa, Michele Bachmann, like the other potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates who spoke at this conference, lavished praise on their fellow speaker, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton. Bachmann also revealed that her involvement in the history revisionism game goes back even further than her association with Barton. As a student at Oral Roberts University, she met John Eidsmoe, and worked as a research assistant on his 1987 book, Christianity and the Constitution. Eidsmoe is another Christian nationalist history revisionist, whose Christianity and the Constitution book predates the first edition of Barton's book The Myth of Separation by a year. In fact, some of Barton's lies are adaptations of Eidsmoe's lies and half-truths, a number of which are debunked in my book. But I had no idea that Bachmann had been involved with Eidsmoe or his book until she talked about it at the Rediscover God in America conference, or that it was Eidsmoe who introduced her to Barton's material.

But Bachmann's admiration of history revisionists wasn't the thing that really caught my attention in her speech at the conference. It was her detailed account of her family history, aimed at emphasizing her Iowa roots to this audience of Iowans. It was when Bachmann said she was a 7th generation Iowan, descended from Norwegians who immigrated to Iowa in the 1850s, that I started paying attention, simply because it would be mathematically improbable for a Bachmann, who is in her mid-fifties, to be the 7th generation descended from people who immigrated in the 1850s unless each of her direct ancestors had had a child when they were extremely young.* After catching this one obvious lie, I just couldn't resist doing a little fact checking on the rest of Bachmann's story. What I found was that Bachmann's version of her family's history was as much a work of fiction as anything found in one of David Barton's books. She wants the people of Iowa to see her as one of them, so she simply changed her family history.

Here's the video of Bachmann telling her story:

Here's the transcript:

"Are you all Iowa pastors that are here tonight? Is that what I understand? Oh, well good. That's why I feel so at home tonight, because I'm with Iowa pastors. I don't know how many of you know, but I was born in Iowa. I was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and grew up in Waterloo. I grew up in Cedar Falls. And actually, I'm not just an Iowan, I'm a very special kind of Iowan. I'm an 'Iwegian.' Now, who knows what an Iwegian is? Okay, there's a few of those. I'm actually even more than just an Iowan. I'm a 7th generation Iowan. Our family goes back to the 1850s to the first pioneers that came to Iowa from Sognfjord, Norway, where it was about two percent of the land was tillable. And these were not dumb Norwegians. They were very smart. They heard about Iowa, and they said, 'It's about a hundred percent fertile land there. Let's go to Iowa.'

"So they came to Iowa, and they literally felled the trees and built wagons and they plowed the fields. And they were godly people, because there were about eighty Norwegians that went ahead of them, and they got a letter back. It was called the Muskego manifesto, and in the Muskego manifesto it said, 'We find in America that we have civil and religious liberty, and here we can choose whatever profession we want, and noone tells us what profession we go in. This we consider more wonderful than riches.' And my great-great-great grandfather, Melchior and Martha Munson, read those words, along with other people in their valley, and they said, 'This is it. This is our ticket.' And they got in their mind and in their heart what we all now know as the American dream. And so they sold everything they had -- the farm, the land , the cattle, the livestock -- everything that they had. They were in their late forties. I looked up the family history. Their parents lived to be just about five years older than they were when they sold everything and took their five children and bought boat tickets to come to Iowa. Isn't this an amazing story? This is your story, too. It isn't just my story. This is the story of America.

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Chris Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History.
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