That’s the title of my latest entry over at the Catholic Thing. Here’s how it begins:
The Atlantic has discovered the Reformation, albeit nearly five centuries too late.
Writer Joshua Green reports that the denomination in which presidential candidate Michelle Bachman was a member, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), believes that Martin Luther was right about the Catholic papacy. Imagine that. Lutherans who believe ideas espoused by Luther. Shocking, isn’t it? Perhaps next week the Atlantic will inform its readers that the pope is Catholic, that Methodists are enamored by John Wesley, or that the Great Schism put a damper on Catholic-Orthodox relations.
The headline of Green’s article is “Michele Bachmann’s Church Says the Pope Is the Antichrist,” though Bachmann and her family had stopped attending that Lutheran church two years ago. Green, it seems, has a problem in understanding the simplest nuances of church membership, how they differ widely between denominations, and that one can stay on the membership rolls of one church while attending another church for years.
So unsurprisingly, he writes that Martin Luther, “broke with the Catholic Church,” when in fact he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X. (Luther was, to employ a popular neologism, unfriended). Thus, by Green’s own logic, if he were employed by the Atlantic in 1521, he could have written this headline, “Martin Luther’s Church Says Martin Luther Not Member of Martin Luther’s Church.”