Bachmann church claims Catholic Pope is the Anti-Christ
"Benny, I heard something bad about you." "Ditto."
Somehow Michele Bachmann managed to find a church that's too crazy even for her.
The Bachmanns filed to quit as members of Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater just six days before she officially announced she was running for president. That cynical move might still have come just a bit too late to disconnect Michele Bachmann, presidential candidate, and Michele Bachmann, member of anti-Catholic church.
Salem Lutheran is a member church of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a group that claims 1,300 congregations and 400,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.
What could WELS possibly believe, according to its own website, that's too out there even for Michele Bachmann?
"WELS does hold to the historic Lutheran position that the Roman Catholic papacy fits the biblical characteristics of the Antichrist."
To the Bachmanns' credit, it was originally stated that they hadn't attended the church in two years -- though different reports have cut that number down to one year.
But Michele Bachmann listed the church affiliation on her official congressional campaign website -- it has since been purged for the presidential run -- and Marcus Bachmann's Bachmann & Associates Clinic appears on Salem Lutheran's site under "Confidential Counseling," by which they mean, "he'll help you get less gay."
WELS's website statement of belief is in direct response to speculation about the Bachmanns leaving the church, and the synod's extremist views on an old white man who lives in Rome.
Recent news reports have thrust the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) into the middle of a presidential campaign. What has catapulted this relatively small Lutheran church body into the media spotlight is the fact that, until recently, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann had held membership in a WELS congregation.
As often happens in controversies both religious and political, people tend to view issues through the prism of their individual perspectives and beliefs. That often results in obscured facts and distortions of the truth. The discussion of the WELS position on the Antichrist is a perfect example of this.
With 390,000 members, WELS is the third largest of the Lutheran churches in the United States. It is often described, properly so, as the "most theologically conservative" of the three.
WELS does hold to the historic Lutheran position that the Roman Catholic papacy fits the biblical characteristics of the Antichrist. We do this without reservation and with no apologies. We believe that our doctrines cannot be tempered by political correctness or modified to align them with changing culture or public opinion.
That clears everything up. No one could possibly have any further questions about this matter after reading that careful, thorough statement. Except to ask, maybe, what the hell are they talking about?
For those people who don't follow 500-year-old conspiracies, this idea goes back to the days of Martin Luther, who really couldn't stand the Roman Catholic Church, especially the pope. So he tacked up his list of grievances on a church door, and -- for a handy visual aid -- convinced his friend Lucas Cranach the Elder to depict the pope as the Antichrist, including one image with the pope taking taxes from his subjects.
Well, if Bachmann wasn't sure about the pope before she saw this primitive woodcut, she had to be afterward. Just look at that evil little dog in the corner, and all those people putting potato chips on a table. This is definitely the Antichrist, and surely all popes after him have inherited that title.
WELS's statement goes on to mention Bachmann specifically in an attempt to exonerate her from this belief. Surely, she's thrilled her name would come up at the end of all this.
Media reports have portrayed the WELS position on the Antichrist to be a prominent or even signature doctrine in our church. Certainly we do not deny this teaching or attempt to hide it. At the same time, it is not a topic of daily discussion or a regular theme in Sunday sermons. Nor is this a view peculiar to WELS; it has been the historic position of the Lutheran church for almost 500 years--a position still held by confessional Lutheran church bodies around the world.
Michele Bachmann is no longer a member of our church, and we are not in any position to comment on her current religious views. But we can say that her previous membership in our church does not make her guilty of being an "anti-Catholic bigot." To accuse her--or her former church--of that is patently unfair and wrong.
It's probably time someone ask Michele about this whole thing. Maybe someone like, oh, just anyone at random... Sean Hannity? Bill O'Reilly? Michelle Malkin? Any of the other practicing Catholics who regularly appear on Fox News and rush to Bachmann's rescue when her mouth gets her in trouble?
There are 69 million Catholics in the United States, and Michele Bachmann needs to have a chat with them.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.