The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) is a denomination to the theological right of the Missouri Synod, which, in turn, is to the right of the ELCA. WELS has come under some scrutiny of late, after Michele Bachmann and her family withdrew their membership at a WELS church in Stillwater, MN last month.
Conflicting reports have emerged about what prompted the withdrawal. It seems that the Bachmanns had quit attending that church several years ago and were recently prompted by the WELS pastor to make it official, which they did, coincidentally, on the eve of her presidential campaign launch.
That’s led to all sorts of media speculation, and some digging around about what, exactly, WELS churches believe. Among their articles of faith is a quite brazen claim that the pope is the anti-christ. Unlike most Lutherans, WELS has not tempered the language of the fiery founder of Lutheranism in the five centuries since he lived. Luther was known for preaching grace, but he was also known for being virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic.