Sunday, October 30, 2011

Michele Bachmann Speaks at Calvary Bible Church

On Sunday, October 23rd, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) spoke at Calvary Bible Church, an independent Bible Church in Osceola, Iowa. C-SPAN posted a video of Bachmann's appearance here, and I'd like to share some quotes from her talk.

Bachmann's talk began with an account of her Norwegian ancestors' journey to America, and their eventual arrival in Jericho, Iowa. She also discussed her the financial struggles of her mother and siblings after her parents divorced, adding that her mother vowed not to go on public assistance. Despite her religious upbringing, Bachmann did not have a strong Christian epiphany until high school. One Halloween, when she and her friends went to a church late at night, Bachmann said that the Holy Spirit spoke to them in their hearts. Afterwards, she relished reading the Bible, for its words had become alive for her.

Bachmann described her husband Marcus as a "godly" man whom she met during their time at Winona State University. The two attended a film series by Francis Schaeffer called How Should We Then Live?, which argued that abortion was the "watershed" issue of the times, given that how people see the abortion issue shapes their view of other issues. This message struck a cord with both Michele and Marcus, who later counseled pregnant women and drove them to "pro-life alternative" centers.

In my opinion, the meatiest parts of Bachmann's talk came afterwards, when she answered several questions posed by senior pastor Matthew Floyd. At the 32:55 mark, Bachmann discussed prayer and the presidency.

FLOYD: Obviously, prayer has been taken out of the schools, and I think that's when test scores, and I believe that's when everything started going downhill. But when President Roosevelt, when he was president, while our troops were storming the beaches of Normandy, he led the nation in prayer. You know, people think, how could you do that? But FDR did that at that time. If you had the opportunity, as president, would that be something that you would do? Follow in the footsteps of him in that way?

BACHMANN: Yes. I think that a president doesn't loose their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression and religious worship and liberty. And I would be most pleased to do that, to lead the nation in prayer ... Certainly, our nation wisely does not have an established national church. That's what our founders didn't want. They were right to stand for religious liberty. We don't demand that any president have a certain faith, and we don't demand that people in this country go and worship at a certain church. But also, if you look at the first amendment, government also shouldn't prohibit religious speech and religious expression, particularly in the public square. That's why you have a First Amendment, because Congress is not to establish a law against the free expression of religious worship. And I think it's time that people of faith stand up and not be fearful and stand for our faith because that's one of the freedoms that our founders bled and died for, to give to each one of us.
I see no problems with a president worshipping privately, but the president also serves as the leader and public face of a diverse country. Whether a president leading the country in prayer would be appropriate in a religiously diverse nation was not discussed.

At the 38:00 mark, Bachmann discussed parents' responsibility for the education of their children. Interestingly, her answer to Pastor Floyd's question focused on homeschooling and literacy, rather than topics such as the state of public schools or funding for education.

PASTOR FLOYD: Whose responsibility do you think it is to educate children, and who gave them that responsibility? Two part question.

BACHMANN: The responsibility to educate children belongs to the parents. God has given children children to parents, and God has given that responsibility to parents. My husband and I both took that responsibility very seriously. We believed again that it is our responsibility as parents to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to our children, but we also believe that it was our responsibility to make sure that they were educated ... I would say in our own life, for my husband and I, we made sure that we homeschooled our biological children first at home, because we wanted to make sure they could read. If children can read, they can practically educate themselves if they're motivated to read. And so we tried to put in our children a love for learning ... Ultimately, the responsibility as parents--and parents may delegate that responsibility out to someone else--but ultimately it's parents that have that responsibility.
Bachmann's talk serves as a reminder of her conservative Christian worldview and the role it would play in her policies if she were elected president. By speaking warmly of Israel, praising homeschooling, and reassuring listeners that she would lead the country in prayer, she provided a talk that would resonate with her conservative Christian audience.

For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

Des Moines Register: Michele Bachmann Shares Her Faith at Osceola Church

Time: Bachmann's Sunday Morning in Iowa

Washington Independent: Bachmann Gives Faith Testimony at Iowa Church


  1. Thankfully Bachmann is pretty much a non-factor at this point in the GOP race. Not that they aren't all whacked, but at least the Tea Baggers have asked her to withdraw so she won't detract voters from other candidates (i.e. Insanity Perry).

    And how you sit through this stuff, Ahab ... I don't know how you do it. I hope you're enjoying some good beer this weekend. You deserve it!

  2. Whether a president leading the country in prayer would be appropriate in a religiously diverse nation was not discussed.

    That is a tough point to resolve, Ahab, at least in my mind. Although I obviously do not believe in prayer, the president is a representative of the nation, and should accordingly feel comfortable expressing a viewpoint held by the majority to some degree. The case of FDR in the storming of Normandy is a great example of this principle. Leading a prayer for the families who lost loved ones in 9/11 would be another. But it is a delicate line to tread, for sure. In my mind, such public prayer leading should be limited to extraordinary circumstances. Otherwise, if it becomes a regular occurrence, that's when it starts to appear as an establishment of a religion.

    However, the funny thing is that Jesus was supposedly against public prayer.

    As for the Bachmann's education reply, I would have to defer to a more explicit policy declaration from her. The way that Pastor Floyd queued up the question was pregnant in religiosity. So I see in Bachmann's answer here the typical answer of a true politician, given the loaded question. It was a way to tell the public (that portion of the public specifically) what they wanted to hear without being specific.

  3. Bachmann allows that the president can be of "any faith" but like many Christian Conservatives she implies that he has to have a faith. Agnostics and Atheists need not apply.

    Boy she's still working the heck out of Iowa, isn't she?

  4. Cognitive Dissenter -- I'm eager to see who will leave and who will stay in the GOP presidential race. Bachmann isn't looking good in the polls right now, and the Tea Party group's request was another blow.

    Wise Fool -- I agree with your assessment of Bachmann's response to the education question -- she knew her church audience well. And it's funny how so many fundamentalists forget Jesus' teaching about praying in private.

    Donna -- She certainly is! On the subject of a leader's faith, I doubt that Religious Right voices would show the same respect to a non-Christian or non-religious president. That's why the lie about the current president allegedly being a Muslim gets such traction.

  5. Won't somebody please get this witch out of my state. I mean her and Ricky Don't google me Santorum practically live here now, and the air is bad. You can just smell a rat every time you venture out

  6. Sherry -- My heart goes out to you and other Iowans! Your patience must be superhuman.


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