It's been a busy week for Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign. After fielding questions about her husband's clinic, now the 2012 contender is facing curiosity about her church affiliation. CNN has more:
...shortly before announcing her White House bid, [Bachmann] officially quit a church she’d belonged to for years.
Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, and her husband, Marcus, withdrew their membership from Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota, last month, according to church officials.
The Bachmanns had been members of the church for more than 10 years, according to Joel Hochmuth, director of communications for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod [WELS], the broader denominational body of which Bachmann’s former church is a member.
While some outlets are questioning why Bachmann and her husband separated from the church just six days before her campaign's launch, Hochmuth confirmed that they had not been attending the congregation for at least two years.
Why does it matter, you ask? WELS has a relatively controversial take on the Catholic Church, which some believe was the catalyst behind Bachmann's move to separate herself before she faced a highly-publicized, campaign-ravaging "Reverend Wright moment." The Atlantic writes:
WELS is the most conservative of the major Lutheran church organizations, known for its strict adherence to the writings of Martin Luther, the German theologian who broke with the Catholic Church and launched the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. This includes endorsing Luther's statements about the papacy. From the WELS "Doctrinal Statement on the Antichrist":
Since Scripture teaches that the Antichrist would be revealed and gives the marks by which the Antichrist is to be recognized, and since this prophecy has been clearly fulfilled in the history and development of the Roman Papacy, it is Scripture which reveals that the Papacy is the Antichrist.
This, The Atlantic claims, may cause major barriers for the congresswoman as she seeks to secure the Republican ticket. This is not the first time, though, that this issue has arisen. The Los Angeles Times reports:
The matter has been tailing Bachmann for much of her political career. She was asked about the church’s statement in 2006, when she was running for Congress.
“It's abhorrent, it's religious bigotry,” Bachmann said then. “I love Catholics, I'm a Christian, and my church does not believe that the pope is the antichrist, that's absolutely false.”
In another piece entitled, "Michele Bachmann's Reverend Wright Moment," New York Magazine's DailyIntel blog takes an opportunity to exploit the situation for laughs -- at Bachmann's expense, of course:
The actual reasoning behind the "antichrist" language is a somewhat complicated theological argument involving lots of historical detail about the Protestant Reformation. We'd summarize it, but we're waiting for the Michele Bachmann version, which will hopefully involve Martin Luther's move to Iowa and his bravery fighting demons in the battle of Concord, New Hampshire.
It is entirely possible that Bachmann has, indeed, separated herself from the church because of its controversial statements on Catholicism. Perhaps she was previously unaware of WELS's written stance and after discovering it in 2006, she may have begun to separate from the house of worship. Either way, her past words on the matter and her associated actions (leaving the church) are not necessarily contradictory.
Regardless of the reasoning for her departure, WELS's written doctrine is going to provide plenty of fodder for individuals who oppose Bachmann, her policies and her faith.