Is Bachmann the media’s anti-Christ?

Yesterday, California became the first state to require “gay history” in public school textbooks. But I’m thinking states might want to consider just focusing on basic history. Yesterday’s news cycle was full of stories showing some pretty striking ignorance of the events of the 16th century.

Apparently the media think that Catholics are both ignorant of the Reformation and also very fragile and easily offended. So let me break this “news” from the 16th century. You may want to sit down. OK, here’s the deal: There was something called the Lutheran Reformation. A man named Dr. Martin Luther joined with various other Reformers in protesting the abuses of a man named Pope Leo X. It’s true, it really happened. And the Catholic Church said that anyone who believed in justification by faith in Christ alone was to be anathema. And that is a very not nice word. And the reformers said that the papacy was the anti-Christ talked about in Scripture.

I know this must be very difficult to hear. I’m sorry I had to be the one to tell you. Please, Catholics and Lutherans, put down your arms and go back to peaceful coexistence in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Have a hot dish meal. It will be all right.

The news that Lutherans oppose the office of the papacy vehemently just hit the media recently, though. First there was an anti-Bachmann piece from four years ago. It spread through Daily Kos and various sites before landing at The Atlantic, in a piece we made fun of discussed yesterday.

National Journal ran The Atlantic piece. And Religion News Service filed its own report.

The pieces weren’t totally ridiculous in what they said, although I could nitpick each of them (e.g. we’re told that Bachmann’s former Synod is “one of the smallest” Lutheran denominations when it’s bigger than like three dozen other Lutheran synods or groups and smaller than only two).

But as I did a bunch of radio shows and conversed with people on the topic (shockingly, most Catholics knew of the Reformation and said we could all still be friends), something became apparent.

Basically, the media might not just be shocked to learn of the historical battles on the papacy but also completely confused as to what the term anti-Christ means in historic Christianity.

Over at Religion Dispatches, which produces a lot of quality journalism from a progressive religious standpoint, associate editor Sarah Morice-Brubaker (who teaches theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK and is finishing her Ph.D in theology at the University of Notre Dame) got me wondering if journalists weren’t running with the story because they envisioned a Hal Lindsay-style anti-Christ with horns and such. Her piece is really funny but she boils it down to:

What we have here is a theological dispute over whether the office of the papacy can, by God’s grace, participate in the mediation and redemption ultimately performed by Christ (the Catholic view); or whether such an office can only ever set itself up as a fradulent rival to the mediation performed by Christ (the WELS view). I mean, I actually think that’s an interesting theological dispute; but this is not necessarily the kind of action movie antichrist envisioned by those who expect a physical rapture, a period of tribulation, and an epic cosmic battle between Jesus and a slick-talking demonic United Nations official (not necessarily in that order).

I’m with her. I think it’s a fascinating debate. But I think we all know that a thoughtful debate on this topic is the last thing the media are looking for. Do you think maybe they’re just looking for yet another way to go after the devilly-horned Bachmann? A little bit?

I’ll only add that media coverage hasn’t explained that by definition the anti-Christ must be positioned within the church, and Catholics and Lutherans recognize each other’s baptisms and what not. Each of our churches have very strongly held views and differences. But I’ve found that Catholics and Lutherans tend to know more about each others views and why they’re held than many other groups. A Catholic bishop told me once that he preferred working with Lutherans over other groups because of this issue — it made it super easy to know where they could and couldn’t cooperate with each other.

And news to the media: you’ll be hard pressed to find significant numbers of Catholics or Lutherans who won’t vote for each other because of their differing views on the papacy or the doctrine of justification or anything else like that. It only makes you look out-of-touch with the actual lives of believers when you try to suggest as much.

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  • Norman

    Defending the delicate sensibilities of Catholics seems to be the press’s new role this election cycle; now they are defending us from the hateful meanness of Rick Perry.

    They love us! They really love us! With friends like these… how does the rest of that go?

  • Jerry

    Following on with Norman, I’m reading both left and right attacks on Rick Perry for his religious beliefs. So, in twitter terms, he’s trending in the “media anti-Christ” standings.

  • Bram

    Bachman is the media’s anti-Christ — in that she’s anti-Obama, and Obama is the media’s Christ.

  • Stuart

    Mollie: Lutheran “synods” can be confusing. The WELS is a stand-alone Lutheran denomination, as is the Missouri Synod. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) also has subdivisions called synods, equivalent to a diocese and led by a bishop and a council. WELS – the most prickly and exclusivist of USA Lutheran denominations – is smaller than the LCMS and ELCA, but larger than some recently spawned splinter groups from the ELCA, and certainly larger than ELCA synods. The ELCA does not to my knowledge view the current run of popes as antichrist, but as leaders of a big group of Christians – the Roman Catholic church – but not our leader. Nice fellas but you keep em. Yes, we Lutherans and Catholics get along fine.

  • Tyson K

    Stuart– Mollie is a member of the LCMS and the daughter of an LCMS pastor. So obviously she knows all that. That said, your comments may alert her to the fact that maybe she should be clearer when describing different types of Lutherans in the post, because it seemed as though she was confused to you.

  • Martha

    I’ve been sharing an island all my life with the Reverend Ian Paisley (granted, we’re at opposite ends of the isle, which probably suits both of us just fine), the man who, back in 1988, actually stood up in the European Parliament when Pope John Paul II spoke there and denounced him to his face as Anti-Christ.

    This makes l’affaire Bachmann very small potatoes indeed. Dear reporter, please kindly leave my church out of it when scoring political points, because I’m willing to bet real money this gentleman probably has a few points of disagreement with the Pope himself.

    It’s really a case of any stick will do to beat the dog, isn’t it?

  • Bill

    At the time that Fr Martin Luther stood where his conscience told him he must, there were also many reformers who stayed within the Catholic fold: Erasmus, for example. Erasmus was extremely critical of the pope while still defending the papacy.

    As Mollie points out often, these are interesting and serious theological questions, and it does not do justice to either Lutherans or Catholics to minimize them. But there is so much we agree on! And as that fine Protestant, C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong, they need your prayers all the more, and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”

    I have had Masses offered for Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Mennonites, Methodists and Jews who have lost loved ones. The theology does not mesh perfectly, but all have been grateful for prayers and good thoughts. Christ did not say, “Refute thy neighbor’s theology.” He commanded us to love each other.

    Mark Twain observed bitterly that “Man is the religious animal. He loves his neighbor as himself, and slits his throat if his theology is cockeyed.” I don’t see that in America today. Sure, it might exist, but in microscopic measure.

    I live conveniently isolated in the middle of nowhere. It’s a two day ride on a fast horse to get to fly-over country. The nearest town has less than a thousand souls, and there are probably more than two dozen churches and houses of worship. Each has church fairs, suppers and bake sales. The network of ladies (there is always a network of ladies) of the various churches always manage to avoid conflicts in scheduling these events. (The Baptist car wash is first rate; Lutherans and Methodists have better bake sales, and our Lenten Friday fish fries are hard to beat.) These events are always well attended and no one seems to care a whit that the delicious pecan pie the kids are devouring was purchased at their neighbor’s church event. This might seem like a small thing, but it is not. American churchgoers by and large get along very well with each other. We need each other and have much to learn from each other.

    That Michele Bachmann’s once being a Lutheran would have any effect on the Catholic vote is just plain silly.

    As an ecumenical aside, Jerry, who is Jewish, made a comment a while ago that knocked me off my horse on the road to Damascus and gave me an insight into the courage and character of Jesus. I reflect on it almost daily. Thank you, Jerry.

  • Mollie

    We have some great commenters but Jerry is definitely one of my very favorites. I’m glad others agree.

  • Julia

    From the Introduction to “The Inheritance of Rome” by Chris Wickam – explaining how historians have revised how they look at long-ago documents. They are more aware that we can’t just look at the words as written, they have to be understood not only in the context of the times, but also in the literary conventions of the times.

    …[A]ll our written accounts from the past are bound by narrative conventions, which have to be understood properly before the accounts can be used by historians at all; as a result, in the last two decades nearly every early medieval source has been critically re-evaluated for its narrative strategies.

    …[I]t must be recognized from the outset that it is unwise to take any source, of any kind, too literally. This is perhaps easiest to see with narratives of events, in histories, letters, saints’ lives or testimony in court cases.

    Then he goes on to critique the writings of Gregory, bishop of Tours, who wrote copiously of his times circa the 500s AD, and explained how not to understand them. at pages 8 & 13

    In the era of Luther and Leo X, there was a literary convention for insults. Calling somebody the Anti-Christ expressed extreme disdain and might not have been been meant literally. Meanwhile, Popes and Bishops hurled Anathemas at perceived enemies with abandon; Pius IX still enjoyed doing it hundreds of years later. But in today’s post-literate era we should not read documents from Luther and Trent in the 1500s using current-day conventions. There are anchronisms of tone as well as of fact.

    Ong pointed out that Homer used very vivid words to exaggerate in order to make the stories memorable and memorizable in an oral society. In the 1500s the elites were literate and vivid language was somewhat tamped down. By our post-literate time, people don’t need to be quite so colorful to get the point across.

  • Stuart

    Thanks to Tyson for clarification. Apologies to Mollie if I seemed to lecture. We inside the Lutheran family (at least the church nerds among us) know these Lutheran arcana, which resemble Presbyterian subdivision distinctions, but we’re used to being misunderstood. I share all y’all’s (I’m from Ohio) frustration with press writing about religion. I belong to an evangelical church body (that is, ‘Gospel proclaiming’) that doesn’t much resemble some parts of the Protestant spectrum that the press has labeled ‘evangelical’. The Roman Catholic faith (also Gospel proclaiming) is also evangelical AND apostolic. I get a close up because I work with a RC diocese committee on water projects in east Africa. I just walked in an Adoration of the Host processional there (not real Lutheran) :-)

  • Jefferson

    As a matter of good journalism your objection to the original headline of the Atlantic piece, “Michele Bachmann’s Church Says The Pope Is The Antichrist,” was sound in that WELS was, as you point out, no longer Congresswoman Bachmann’s church.

    But your reformulation, “Are you now or have you ever been a Lutheran?” is likewise inaccurate. In numbers, Bachmann’s church is not in the mainstream of Lutheran congregations in the USA: WEL has only 390,000 members, compared to ELCA (± 4,500,000) or the LC-MS (± 2,400,000).

    Also, you don’t do justice to there being a story here. There is, and Business Insider has it right: “Michele Bachmann Quit Her Evangelical Church Days Before Campaign Launch.”

    Bachmann’s family drops out of a church in which her family had been members for a decade without saying why just before she decides to run for President – that’s a story, not putting horns on Bachmann’s head.

  • Elijah

    Do I dare ask what “gay history” consist of? Oscar Wilde 101?

  • Julia

    Should have given a link to Walter Ong’s ground-breaking book, Orality and Literacy, originally published in 1982. He was a student of Marshal McCluhan. I had the great fortune of being in a book club in the 1980s where he graced our presence several times and helped us all to see the world and culture very differently.

  • John Stefanyszyn

    There are many christian denominations which claim that the Pope / Roman Catholic Church is the anti-christ.
    But what is really the anti-Christ?

    Does one separate one self from it by isolating it to a church, i.e the Roman Catholic Church?
    Bachmann has distanced herself from her church (possibly) because of the potential political consequences of such a doctrine. She seemed, however, to be comfortable with it for the last 10 years. Has she, however, distanced herself from it in her heart?

    …Politics first (self interest first) and God second! Does not this say something about the anti-christ?

    Christ said that there would be many false christs (false anointed ones) and false prophets (false proclaimers of truth). He never said that the anti-christ is a person or a religious organization. Christ’s teachings dealt with the “spiritual” domain of man. The anti-christ is therefore a belief and way of life which in itself is against the True God and Christ.

    Given that the Creator God claims to be the One and Only God of all mankind and creation and that Christ is the One and Only Way to Him, it is obvious then that the anti-christ would have to be a worldwide belief system which would have preeminence above the Creator God and Christ. It would have to be a belief that all nations would embrace, proclaim, defend, and live by. It would have to be a belief by which even “Christians” would be “mislead”.

    The creation of the Roman Catholic Church was founded on this “belief” when they placed the worship of caesar before the worship of God and His Son Jesus Christ in order to have the freedom to continue with their christian religion.
    It continues to live by and defend this belief today.
    But it is not the originator of it nor is it the only one.

    Today, this same belief system is seen on a global scale, affecting all the nations on the earth.

    What belief system is this priority way of life? Hint…politics first (self-interest first).

    It can only be the desire for and belief in man’s freedom of self-rights, freedom of religion, and universal values.

    President Obama has portrayed the belief in universal values as the new world religion, or tree of knowledge of good and evil, from which all other religions (as branches) have the “right” to be worshipped as per one’s own justification and self-interest. It is the “god of fortresses” that protects and gives liberty to all other beliefs. God is no longer seen as the Most High. He has now been positioned on the same level as one of the other “fortresses”, as a religion among other religions. It will soon be decreed that the declaration that Christ is the Only Way is divisive, anti-democratic, and illegal.

    However, the True God, and His Christ, is not a religion.

    Man’s way and laws will not stop the return of Christ as the Only King of kings, to bring forth God’s Kingdom and His Way of Truth on earth. Keep in mind that there will not be any desire for or belief in freedom of religion in God’s kingdom.

    This belief in self-rights, self-rule, and universal values is the image, mark, name, and number that will cause “even the elect” to willingly accept, live by, worship, and advance this belief, as already seen within all Christian churches. “Freedom of religion” are the first words spoken by all “churches” in times of “persecution” or legal battles.

    This is the belief that is referred to by the last king of the north in the prophecy found in Daniel 11:36-39, “…for he shall magnify himself (self-will) above all gods…and he will advance the glory of this “god of fortresses”.”

    Soon, this preeminent belief in “man’s way of peace” will be superimposed above Jerusalem (the city of peace) as the belief above all beliefs “…for he shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between (and above) the seas and the glorious Holy mountain”… as the belief above Christ and above the True and Only God. This is the abomination. This will be done when President Obama will orchestrate the peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
    I pray that man and Christians will recognize this deception and stand instead for Christ, the One and Only Way to Our Father and Creator.
    John Stefanyszyn

  • Peggy R

    This was disgraceful journalism. Now, it’s revealed that the Bachmann’s left their church last month. Is the media really going to reach the conclusion that protestant candidates are unfit for office? That’s laughable. The media defending Roman Catholic sensibilities..ha, ha, ha.

    Besides, protestantism has been the backbone of America, though Catholic and other contributions have been great. [Like Catholic missionaries from all over Europe covering the North American continent over several centuries, but that's another story.]

    I find Pawlenty’s leaving Rome and going “generic” more problematic. I won’t vote for him, though not just for that.

  • St Reformed

    Coming our of the LCMS, I appreciate Stuart’s & Julia’s sage inputs.
    Winconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod [WELS] communications director Joel Hochmuth stated earlier this week:

    Some people have this vision of a little devil running around with horns and red pointy ears. Luther was clear that by ‘Antichrist’ [he meant] anybody who puts himself up in place of Christ. Luther never bought the idea of the Pope being God’s voice in today’s world. He believed Scripture is God’s word.” [The belief that the Pope is the Antichrist] “has never been one of our driving principles.

    The 16th century was a time of invectives. The 21th century must not be…or we perish. In the immortal words of Rodney King: “Can’t we all just get along?”

  • Jerry

    Thanks for the kind words. Now all I have to worry about is the sin of pride :-)

  • Francis Beckwith

    It is my understanding that the Atlantic will be running a story tomorrow on the Great Schism, which will be followed next week on their discovery that were a First and Second Great Revival. Apparently, inside sources at the Atlantic have leaked this bombshell, that they plan to run next month: Vatican I declares papal infallibality.

    I’ve also heard–and this is second hand–that Time Magazine is dong a major feature on the scope of the canon: “73, 66, or Fight: A Page Turner.”

  • Bill P.

    And news to the media: you’ll be hard pressed to find significant numbers of Catholics or Lutherans who won’t vote for each other because of their differing views on the papacy or the doctrine of justification or anything else like that. It only makes you look out-of-touch with the actual lives of believers when you try to suggest as much.

    This is a key observation. A good many in the media and the blogosphere are more and more becoming a cottage industry for a world that exists in the minds of only a few.

    In the real world, no matter what the fanatics or criminals do within any faith community and no matter how it’s all (mis)reported, there are still real people being attracted to what faith and its communities offer. Many in the media ought to pay attention to this reality. Otherwise they ensure their own irrelevancy by seeking to tear apart that which other people so naturally keep putting back together.

  • Craig Arthur

    As a member of a WELS congregation, and a bit of a church doctrine buff, I can say that the Pope as an anti-Christ is a tiny and obscure part of WELS doctrine. WELS is the third largest Lutheran denomination in the US, and anyone who portrays us as some sort of tiny fringe group is ignorant of Lutheranism in articular and Protestantism in general.

    WELS doctrine is scriptural based and based on the belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. This is hardly unusual. We get along fine with Catholics also. After all, the Catholics sing “A Mighty Fortress is our God”. Martin Luther wrote that hymn, and I think he might be amused by this fact.

    This is nothing but an attempt to smear Bachmann. Consider the source.

  • Francis Beckwith

    Jefferson writes: “Bachmann’s family drops out of a church in which her family had been members for a decade without saying why just before she decides to run for President – that’s a story, not putting horns on Bachmann’s head.”

    Officially leaving a church is not the same as “dropping out.” My understanding–and I could wrong about this–is that Bachmann’s family had attended another church for several years, but only officially took themselves off the rolls of a WELS congregation recently. This happens quite often across many denominational lines. Virtually no ex-Catholics, for example, renounce their confirmation. So, technically they are still “Catholic” even if they have attended a non-Catholic church for decades. Thus, it is not at all surprising that Bachmann left WELS before she ran for president. Better to do that than to constantly deal with the problem of having to explain one can be a Lutheran and a non-Lutheran at the same time. This, by the way, is a problem that Senator Rubio may face in the future. He was baptized Catholic, but attends an Evangelical Church.

  • Jefferson

    To Craig, several points:

    First, please address me directly if you disagree with my analysis. As the spouse of an ELCA congregant whose father was a lifelong Lutheran pastor I’m well informed about Protestantism in the USA and Lutheranism in particular, thank you.

    Second, I did not say WELS is “tiny.” WELS is the third largest Lutheran denomination in the USA, yes – it’s also about 1/6th the size of the LC-MS, which, in turn, is about ½ the size of the ELCA. I did not say that WELS was a “fringe” but the numbers support my assertion that WELS is not in the mainstream of Lutheran congregations in the USA.

    Third, naming the head of the world’s largest Christian church as the personification of the anti-Christ is neither “tiny” nor “obscure” to Roman Catholics. It is profoundly offensive and hateful, pretending otherwise doesn’t dissipate that doctrine’s destructive power.

    To Francis: we are all still puzzling about how the Bachmanns parted company with WELS. First, we were told that they left their church. Now in WaPo the headline says: “Bachmann left church at pastor’s request” but if you read down in the article we find Rev. Marcus Birkholz didn’t do that, he merely “asked that she make clear her relationship with the church” after the Bachmanns moved to another side of town and stopped attending services (that sounds like the Bachmanns were “dropping out” to me):

    Bachmann’s problem isn’t that she must explain how one can be a Lutheran and a non-Lutheran at the same time; it’s that Bachmann wants to lead an increasingly diverse country while holding sincere, religiously-informed views that most Americans would find scary and strange in a President.

  • Chris

    I think if you dig deep enough into any documented theology that underpins an organized religion, you will find something that some (many?) Americans would find “scary and strange”. However, when followers of the two theologies involved (Roman Catholics and some Lutherans), largely think the issue is trivial in terms of their daily interactions, it is just silly for journalists to make a big deal of it–as if they’re taking the denominations involved to task for not continually fighting over it publicly, or chiding them for not knowing their theology better. If you probed any given individual’s “sincere”, seriously-informed views, something’s going to be scary and strange. Personally, I think anyone who wants to be President must be a little strange–if not scary.

  • Timothy Winterstein

    @Jefferson, I don’t think that the papacy as anti-Christ is any more “profoundly offensive and hateful” than the Council of Trent’s anathema (curse of damnation) against the Lutherans (which has never been retracted). The best conversations between Roman Catholics and Lutherans can happen when we both acknowledge that not a whole lot has changed doctrinally since the 16th century.

    The only journalism angle here is if Bachmann did indeed officially ask for release from membership because of her presidential campaign.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    I’m a Catholic and the WELS condemnation of the papacy is, in fact, “tiny and obscure” to me, and I am not profoundly offended by it. Actually, I didn’t know about the WELS position, but am neither shocked nor dismayed to learn of it. But then, I’m a Texan and share space with John Hagee, so there you have it. After my conversion, a Methodist lady, an older family friend announced “Being Catholic is ok, they are people too.” That’s a quote and she was serious. :-)

    I mention Pastor Hagee, because John McCain was subjected to this whole “pope is the Anti-Christ” business in 2008 and ultimately rejected the endorsement. It’s not new territory for the media. Moreover, I predict that the cliche “in the tank for…” used wrt media coverage of the presidential race in 2008 will turn out be a massive understatement in the 2012 race. One evening this week, NBC news declared Bachmann the front-runner in the Republican race, then immediately noted that she mispronounced “chutzpah”. There was then some sort of substantial story about her, but what do I remember?

    The good news is that if Pres. Obama is defeated despite the all-but-active campaigning of the mainstream media, it might cause the latter to review their political advocacy policies and return to real reporting.

    End of sermon.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    And #24 is correct. In the era prior to our own, formal condemnation of heresy was common on all sides – Catholic and protestant, as was capital punishment for heretics (more often, heresiachs, or teachers of heresy. The disagreement was over who was a heretic. It’s now acknowledged that about as many Catholics were martyred under the protestant Tudors as Anglicans under Mary.

  • Guest
  • Jefferson


    I am not a Bill Maher symp and I apologize if my “scary” remarks left that impression.

    As you say, I’m sure we all could find something weird about each other’s faith or lack thereof. My point isn’t merely that; it’s how public anxiety over private faith becomes a political matter because politicians appear unable to see boundaries between their faith practice and their policies as public officials. As Congresswoman Bachmann only sees the Establishment Clause as a problem it’s not surprising that the public might be curious to know the “eccentricities” of her faith that may or may not impact her policy choices. For example, would Bachmann consider RICO an appropriate tool against churches that inhibit prosecutions of clergy accused of sexual assault?
    Roman Catholics might want to know what would inform her choice.

    @ Winterstein and Passing By

    You both don’t seem to find the WELS doctrine under discussion a problem and would like Lutherans and Catholics to get along despite tortured church histories that may not be relevant to the here and now. As a matter of interfaith relations, that’s nice. I’m sure the GOP party bosses would agree with you: they have a big enough headache right now dealing with evangelical hostility towards LDS.

    But neither of you are major spokesfolk for your faiths. Bill Donohue is and, speaking on behalf of many Catholics, he’s offended:

    “Clearly, that is anti-Catholic,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, a national organization devoted to protecting Catholic civil rights. “This kind of hatred is reminiscent of Bob Jones. I believe [Bachmann] has in the past condemned anti-Catholicism. But there’s no question — all you have to do is read it — that they clearly have anti-Catholic statements up there.” Donohue said he would refrain from making any judgments until he heard from Bachmann, who he said must address the matter promptly. [snipped] “…it’s clear that the [synod]‘s teachings are noxious and it’s important for her to speak to the issue.”

    I don’t know how many Catholics Donohue can speak for, but I’m sure it’s more than any ad-hoc lobby of Catholic apologists for WELS doctrine that might materialize.

  • Timothy Winterstein

    I think Donohue is in the same category as Abraham Foxman: intentionally incendiary. I may not be a spokesperson for Lutherans (although I am a Missouri Synod pastor who believes that the Book of Concord correctly interprets the Scriptures, including on the anti-Christ), but I have had many great conversations with my Roman priest friend, and we get along fine, despite our tortured church histories: he still thinks I’m a heretic who is engaged in idolatry when I genuflect to the Host, and I still think that the papacy has set itself up in the place of Christ to judge (the definition of anti-Christ). Nevertheless, we enjoy our beer together, and we are still friends.
    We don’t need the religion-ignorant press to tell us what our confessions should do to our relationship.

  • Julia

    he [the Roman priest friend]still thinks I’m a heretic who is engaged in idolatry when I genuflect to the Host

    Amazing. We do that in our Catholic Church all the time. It’s usually others who say we are engaging in idolatry when genuflecting to the Host. I can’t imagine a Catholic priest saying that is heretical.

  • Julia

    Bill Donohue is essentially a committee of one. He wasn’t elected or appointed by the bishops or anybody else. He has donors who support him, but no real organization to speak of.

    For example, would Bachmann consider RICO an appropriate tool against churches that inhibit prosecutions of clergy accused of sexual assault? Roman Catholics might want to know what would inform her choice.

    That’s a legal issue, and her legal training might be relevant. What would Bachman’s religious beliefs have to do with it? Do you mean bias?

  • Jefferson

    @ Winterstein

    Pastor, I’m sure you manage your relationships just fine and nobody – not the religion-ignorant press; religion-ignorant politicians; or even religion-ignorant clergy – has any business with you and your Catholic friends.

    @ Winterstein & Julia RE: Donohue

    He is not elected or appointed by the Bishops as Donohue does not represent the Church. Donohue is an advocate for the religious and civil rights of Roman Catholics. Julie, it is a mistake for you to view him only as a blowhard for a pile of money. The Church has a generally benevolent view of his works – you will not find many official or even off the record Church rejections of his views, only his tone. If the Church did find him an embarrassment the Bishops would muzzle him. They don’t, that should be a clue.

    I reiterate my previous point: I don’t know how many Catholics Donohue can speak for, but I’m sure it’s more than any ad-hoc lobby of Catholic apologists for WELS doctrine that might materialize. I’m sure some Catholics don’t think this is an issue but I doubt you will find any Catholic lay groups rushing to Bachman’s defense. The closest you will find is in laughable headlines like this:

    “Bachmann Leaves Church, Gets Catholic Support”

    Lots o’ stuff about Donohue taking Bachmann at her word yet no mention of his closing remarks to the Atlantic: “Donohue said he would refrain from making any judgments until he heard from Bachmann, who he said must address the matter promptly. [snipped] “…it’s clear that the [synod]’s teachings are noxious and it’s important for her to speak to the issue.”

  • http://!)! Passing By

    Jefferson -

    Of course I am not more speaking for Catholics than you were when you said WELS doctrine is profoundly offensive and hateful [to Roman Catholics}. The degree to which Bill Donohue speaks for Catholics is, of course, debated among Catholics. Personally, I’m sympathetic to most of his stuff, but sometimes he is a bit of a blowhard (with or without a pile of money). Pastor Winterstein probably has it right when he says the guy is intentionally incendiary. I have to ask: have you manipulated my lack of ire into a defense of WELS doctrine, because that would be silly. It’s just that I read around the Anglican blogs, and they can’t be beat for raw, drooling anti-Catholicism. Anyway, Pastor Winterstein’s point is fair: we haven’t withdrawn our anathemas, although Lutheran/Catholic dialogue has produced some good clarifications.

    This is, however, about journalism, despite all appearances to the contrary. The threat to the Catholic Church today is not from the Lutherans, but from the secularists who regard all religion as essentially violent and destructive. That has become cultural dogma du jour and it’s permeating the news media as well as entertainment (I’ve seen it on 3 TV shows in the past week).

  • Mollie


    Return this conversation to discussion of media coverage or carry it on elsewhere. This is not the place to discuss doctrinal disputes or what not — just media coverage of religion news.

  • Bill Carson

    I wish the media would examine Bachmann not for her possible Lutheran beliefs, but for her religious flakiness. It says so much more to me about Bachmann that she proclaims to be a pious Christian but hadn’t attended her home congregation in two years, and then withdrew her membership a few weeks before announcing her candidacy.

  • Don Ibbitson

    Her husband’s counseling center controversy vis a vis “treating” homosexuals has given the liberal media gasoline to throw on the fire they were already trying to burn around Bachmann. The almost total disregard for the Christian view on this is frightening. I saw a quote on ABC news from one of their “experts” who opined that the homosexual treatment plan proposed in his center was way outside the fringe for traditional psychology. That’s just the point, don’t you think? They would be storming her regardless and now they have more ammunition.

  • Will

    If the Church did find him an embarrassment the Bishops would muzzle him

    Oh, like they “muzzled” Pelosi, Kerry et al? What would they do, send the Church Police to shut him down?

  • Mark Tardiff

    Bill Donahue identifies a clear agenda in the reporting of Ben Adler of The Nation magazine.
    If this were serious journalism, reporters wouldn’t spend so time trying to make Bachmann guilty by asssociation; they would go ahead and ask her about her views and be done with it.