Me the People

Don’t call me The American People.  Not unless you mean it.  And not unless I hear a compliment when I hear you say it instead of a subtle reference to “typical voters who share my narrow,  profit-mongering,  and religiously backward view of America.”

 Mitch McConnell. the turtlefaced Senate minority leader with a heart of mould, says The American People will not be fooled “this time around” by tax and spend Democrats. Eric Cantor says The American People want a balanced budget–just like they expect to have every month when they make decisions about eating out at restaurants or paying the mortgage (Odd equivalence that: eating at Denny’s once a month and health care for the poor).

     Michele Bachmann, the intelligent Christian’s Sarah Palin surrogate,  says the American people deserve to keep what they earn and that the Income Tax Amendment (that’s XVI if you’re counting) is unconstitutional. In fact, in an extraordinary moment last week, she said that The American People had decisively spoken in her favor at the Iowa caucus where she received 28% of 17,000 votes, a number comparable to a high school election for student council president. Sarah Palin, when she was interesting, said she was in touch with The American People and knew what they wanted–in language only a little reminiscent of what an employee of Shady Lady Ranch in Nye, Nevada,  might say.

The Democrats aren’t blameless, of course.  They use this fustian  all the time. Just like having to wear flag pins in their lapel and sing “God Bless America” on cue, they have to counter references to the American People with references to the American People. But I have to say that when they do, there seems to be at least a glimmer of  good intent to it–an evocation of “real people” who do their own laundry and have to check their bank balance before getting the car fixed, rather than people, like the Tea Party crowd, who actually enjoy wearing jackets and ties and going to church.  Alas, many people who do their own laundry and wear wife beaters on Sunday while they enjoy a football game on their 72 inch HDTV (fully paid up in 18 months)  actually think the well-pressed set on the links are the best ones to look out for their welfare.  The American People is a many-splintered thing,

$12.95, a small price to be an American


I think it boils down to this: when the Democrats use the phrase, they are actually referring to other people. When the Repblicans use it, they mean themselves and the like-minded individuals they play golf with. The American People need to wake up and smell the difference.

And why do they use it–or rather, why do the Republicans use the phrase to the point of making me want to burn a flag using campaign posters of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell as kindling?

Because they can’t say “God.”  Oh sure, certified evangelical nutters like Rick Perry can get away with talking about Christian America and what God has done for the country and how The American People are basically decent and good (implication: because they are Christian and know who to thank for that).

But a politician who spoke about God all the time would probably lose people’s attention after a while, even in this preternaturally religious country.  “I ask my colleagues to pass this Deregulation of Oil Companies bill without delay because it’s what God demands and what Jesus would do” sounds a little tetched after all.  Better to say, “What the American People want and the American People deserve.”  Say it often enough and the association will become natural: two wills happily joined in political wedlock, incarnate in We the People.  It all sounds pretty good until you look at the priesthood that presides over this “secular” sanctuary.  We the People are no more recognizable from their invocations than God is in the prayers of pedophile priests.


Can we do anything about this, or will we just have to put up with the cynical use of our collective name (and will) being taken in vain? After all, we put them there, and we permit the sacrilege to go on.

Maybe the fatal flaw in the argument for the wisdom of The American People is the tsunami called the 2010 Mid-term election.  Unlike God in the official theology, We the People are sometimes impatient, dumb, and prone to make mistakes that injure us.  It was fine when We the People were Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton speaking for acquiescent farmers and merchants.  Not so good when We are Perry, Romney, Boehner, and Bachmann framing ideas for suits, corporate thieves, the merely uninformed and NASCAR reactionaries.

But unlike the real God (or unreal god) who gets invoked all the time, I think the (real) American People, hapless and reckless beasts that we are,  deserve better.  Stop treating us like ancient deities who just need a little incense on the fire, a sheaf of burning wheat, a few prayers, and an occasional virgin-sacrifice to keep us happy. Stop thinking you know what We want–or worse, being so priestly in the discharge of your duties that you think that what you want and what we want is the same thing.  Clearly it isn’t, and just as clearly the polls say that The American People would like to round you up and  drive you out of town.  But because it’s expensive for us to keep the buildings open and pay the heating bill, we have to vote for more of you in 2012, just to keep the People’s House occupied. Taxes my axes.

I suggest a national The American People Won’t be Appeased, Bought, Cajoled or Lied To campaign before this election cycle renders the phrase meaningless.

I‘ll be happy to serve as president of this coalition.  I think the American People deserve that.   You can thank me later for my service.

Convictions are Killing Us

"One Nation, in Jesus' Name, with God's Justice for all."

The second Republican presidential debate confirmed all suspicions that we are confronted by intellectual pygmies vying for the chiefdom of the American tribes.

The promised entry of Rick Perry into the race, and if we’re lucky (and her van stops long enough for her to make further wowsers about American history) Sarah Grizzly-Mom Palin, won’t substantially raise the intellectual ante or the tone of discussion.

"The British are coming! Oh, you are British..."

What all of these aspirants have in common besides being emblematic of how easy it is to succeed  in American politics  is that all claim to have convictions. Lots of  ’em

We’ve all seen small candidates in our time.  We’ve even seen an amazingly stupid underachiever hold on to the office of president for eight interminable years, once presumably because he won the election. But we’ve never seen it this bad.

And the reason we’ve never seen it this bad is because three, at least, of the wannabes keep talking about their convictions–not ideas, but beliefs they hold doggedly and think other Americans, as Americans, should hold them too.

Some of these convictions are religious. Some are economic, and some are social.  But their classification doesn’t matter: there is no high falutin’ epistemology involved in having these core convictions, because,  according to this troop, convictions are what made America great and what keeps America going–one nation under God, in whom we trust.

In the Republican debate, when she wasn’t just venting gas about making Obama a One Term President, an idea overwhelming in its piscatorial crassness, Michele Bachmann said a number of times that she  has more convictions than any of her competitors.  “I have demonstrated leadership and the courage of my convictions to change Washington, stop wasteful spending, lower taxes, put Americans back to work and turn our economy around….”

She also has convictions about lightbulbs, fuel emissions, gays, the “unborn,” as she sepulchrally calls fetuses, the nature of marriage, and a dozen other things that flow from her weird teaology.

Michele Bachmann and some of her two dozen foster convictions

She’s doubly dangerous because like a lot of people with convictions, she can’t admit when she’s wrong: take the “Our founding fathers worked night and day to abolish slavery”- comment.  Not only historically outlandish but perverse in her attempt to defend her wrongness.  The “founding father” she tried to name (9 years old at independence and 19 when the Constitutional convention was convened) was the son of a real founding father whose views on God, religion and the Bible Michele Bachmann would find disturbing, if not incomprehensible.

On Saturday, the cast of this folies bizzare will be joined by an aging fraternity lout who is not only unimpressed by the concept of separation of church and state but frankly can’t bother to make the distinction.

That would be a scandalous posture if most Americans cared a farthing about the Constitution, but polls have repeatedly shown that if the document were up for grabs today it wouldn’t look much like the Enlightenment icon we possess, warty amendments, like the Eighteenth, and all.

No one really wants to contemplate what a President Perry would say if a committee of Pentecostal ministers suggested  amending “We the People” to “We the Christian People of the United States,” or putting a tasteful cameo of Jesus in the center of our currency to mark us out as a holy nation of God-fearers, beloved and protected by the Almighty.

Two of the contenders, Romney and Huntsman, are Mormons, a group so strange in its beliefs that the best that can be said about them is that they aren’t scientologists. The remainder, in  shades of ecclesial gray are simply losers, though “Rick” Santorum is also a religious nutcase and Catholic pro-life extremist who refuses to attend any Masses that aren’t in Latin.

In additon to the six children Santorum holds up as proof of his commitment to the Gospel of Life, his wife Karen in 1996 gave birth to a son (Gabriel Michael) when she was twenty weeks pregnant. The dead fetus (born with a closed posterior urethral valve) was brought home and “introduced” to the other children as their brother.  The couple slept with the fetus overnight before returning it to the hospital the next day.  The story is told in lurid detail by Michael Sokolove in his 2005 New York Times Magazine feature “The Believer.”  In the same piece, Santorum is quoted as saying that in his view George W. Bush was the first “Catholic president of the United States,” and that John F. Kennedy “shed his Catholicism.”  Convictions.

The Republican race for the nomination is not about choosing the most qualified candidate but about trying to determine who’s the least crazy.

Unfortunately, the American people have a huge appetite for crazy–prime time Jersey Shore and Biggest Loser crazy. Their political focus on winners and losers, American idol-style, is so far removed from the debates, the ideas, the burning issues that formed the republic that history is only considered a distraction, and a boring one at that.  I can easily imagine viewers who wondered if, at the end of the debate, the participants would be called over in small groups by Tyra Banks.  In my mind, she’s wearing something silky in red, white and blue, with dangly silver star earrings:  “Jon, you’ve got a lot of talent. I really expected you to shine out there tonight.  But you just didn’t come through. Your sentences were too long and I just felt you were holding back.” —Or maybe that wouldn’t be a worse process than the one we have.

We liked your number--we really did--but you just didn't, you know...

As it is, in the discounted political process we’re stuck with, convictions matter more than facts and looking decisive carries more weight than being right. The media calls it optics.  Winners and losers are determined by how tenaciously wrong opinions and worthless convictions can be defended.  Who cares when John Quincy Adams lived?  It’s my conviction that my contempt for pro-choice Americans is the real American value: end of story. The optics of conviction-holding may be the most serious threat democracy has ever faced.

There are certainly things that disappoint me about Barack Obama. But I sense that he wouldn’t lie to me about history, or claim to know something for certain that he doesn’t know.  Maybe that comes from his being a college lecturer, or just a nice guy, since truth-telling and history were not his predecessor’s strong suit.

But unless history proves me wrong (and not his slanderers) Obama is as close as we’re likely to get in the twenty-first century to a politician still in touch with the spirit of the founders, still interested in the American experiment as an experiment and a work in progress.  As a matter of experience he understands that America isn’t finished.  As a matter of dogma, his opponents believe that America reached its pinnacle of perfection in some golden age, whose mythical history they have substituted for the far messier but real story of America’s past.

That “scholarly,” tentative view of democracy as an idea in need of exploration and improvement is a dangerous one in Rick Perry’s done-deal Exceptional America, where God is king, presidents are his stewards, and only men with strong religious convictions are entitled to serve.

The political free fall in which we find ourselves is frightening enough without the supernatural maps being offered by the Republican horde.  This is too far down the road from John Kennedy’s most famous dictum about religion for any of us to feel complacent: ”I do not speak for my church on public matters — and the church does not speak for me.” Where did we make that wrong turn? And where did these guides come from?

Michele Bachmann’s Antichrist Problem

You saw it, right?  Michele Bachmann, God’s little darling, quit her Church. Her gay-hating, anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-Black, anti-choice, anti-science Church.

Those of you who thought that Southern Baptists and the Assembly of God had the monopoly on Weird Religion, think again.  America is multi-cultural, after all–like Bill Murray (as John Winger) reminds us in Stripes,

“We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse.”

If that doesn’t quite compute with what you thought the Pilgrim Fathers brought to these shores–all that beeswax about freedom of worship and conscience–then you didn’t deserve your B- in American history.  Come to think of it, you wouldn’t have learned this in American history because the schools actually don’t teach it.  Nobody (in America anyway) wants to think of America as Europe’s dumping ground for religious misfits and zealots.  It spoils all our stories about grandparents, forty acres and a mule and Ellis Island.  And it’s only when their crazy descendants surface in modern political debates that we’re reminded of what it means to be wretched refuse.

The fact is, most of multidenominational America was monocultural at the start.  America was a big enough country to make room for Dunkards and Mennonites and Amish farmers, apple-butter-making, wine tippling German Benedictines in Missouri and tight-lipped Presbyterians in North Carolina.  No one in 1850 would have been surprised at the repetitious ethnicity of the surnames on church rolls.  Just like no one cared much about what the pols were doing in Washington as long as it didn’t reach into the hills of Tennessee or the woods of Maine. Churches weren’t melting pots or even pots to melt thinks in: they were mechanisms for preserving ethnic difference, family custom, ancestral languages, inherited prejudices. –Special ways of loving the God who died on the cross for your sins and invented the shotgun so’s you could protect your special interpretation of what that meant and sing the songs your grandpa sang.

A midwestern Benedictine of Conception Abbey

Their apartheid from each other was taken for granted. Their separateness from the federal government, on the other hand, had to be guaranteed by Constitutional authority, spelled out by a generation of pretty smart men whose influence did not last much into the following century except on the coinage.  Mark Twain’s famous experiment  in ecumenism says it all.

Which brings me to the latest example of cultural atavism: Michele Marie Bachmann, née Amble, of Iowa-Norwegian-Lutheran stock.  (Where did you think those cute, semi-round vowels and troubled, vacant blue eyes come from?).

The stock went down when it was reported that the particular branch of Lutheranism that MB and her Christian counselor-husband Marcus belonged to, the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod of the Lutheran Church, was a sect caught in a time-warp of seventeenth century religious polemic.  Rumour has it that German sociologists were convinced that the last traces of their kind were wiped out in the Thirty Years War, which ended in 1648.  But no, they survived and swam all the way to Stillwater, Minnesota to form the  Salem Lutheran Church, a retail outlet of the Wisconsin Synod consisting of 800 smiling, toothy, salvation-confident members.

In the main, they believe in all the things other Lutherans believed four hundred years ago before there was a United States, or a Charles Darwin or a Hubble Telescope. Among these things they believe that Christians should be “obedient” to governing authorities–not because the Constitution recommends it, but because the Bible says so:

“We believe that not only the church but also the state, that is, all governmental authority, has been instituted by God. “The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1). Christians will, therefore, for conscience’s sake obey the government that rules over them (Romans 13:5) unless that government commands them to disobey God (Acts 5:29).”  Being a good citizen is a concession to the state, which insofar as it has any right to govern at all gets it from God.  This puts the citizen in the stressful condition of always needing to remind the state of its obligation to the Church, which is, of course, not something the First Amendment talks about.

Importantly, Luther was able to side with the divinely appointed authorities against the zealous, protestant German peasants because Luther thought the state represented God, just like Michele Bachmann thinks the Republican Party does today.

Luther also believed the Pope was the antichrist.  So does Michele Bachmann’s minister, er–ex-minister–and so does her Church.  Luther wore the plain brown robe of an Augustinian monk.  The pope got to dress up, drink better wine, and create new doctrines and sacraments.  In historical context, the contempt between Luther and the papacy was personal (the pope called him a goring German boar, though it sounds better in Latin), so a little hyperbole can be forgiven.  But something tells me that the use of the phrase in the Salem Lutheran Church doesn’t bother to mention this.  And even Lutheran theologians who aren’t Salemites end up spewing gibberish when they try to explain:

“Luther’s point was, that in his view, the pope was so obstructing the gospel of God’s free love in Jesus, even though he wore all the trappings of a leader in the church…He was functioning as the New Testament describes … the Antichrist.” (Valparaiso religion professor George Heider).  All clear?  Benedict XVI is not the antichrist.  He just plays one on TV.

America has been blessed with a rich array of religious craziness, so why pick on this sect, numbering about 420,000 adherents nation-wide, with over 60,000 of those located in Bachmann’s homestate of Minnesota. After all, they can’t be as bad at the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church or the Dove World Outreach Center, storefront for the antics of the reverend Terry Jones.

At the risk of misstating the obvious, it’s because neither of those groups or their simian cousins has yet produced a viable presidential candidate.  One by the way who was permitted to slither away from her cultural-religious home and into a more mainsteam evangelical church (Eagle Brook Church) in Stillwater, one than openly opposes lynching.

Her erstwhile pastor “accepted” her resignation on June 27, 2011–within arm’s length of her announcement of wanting to be the next commander-in-chief of God’s armies.  The resignation is characterized by that free exercise of conscience and aspiration to go where God leads that typifies Ms. Bachmann’s commitment to the creation of a Christian republic.

I’m not sure I agree with Christopher Hitchens that religion poisons everything.  But it does make things rancid.  In fact, I’m not really interested in what Wisconsin Synod Lutherans believe because we have a document that protects us from it.

But a lot of what they believe is incarnate in Michele Bachmann: her positions on global warming (hoax, because not mentioned as a sign of the apocalypse in Mark 13); health care (interference with God’s schedule); same sex marriage (you’ve got to be kidding); abortion (your comment here), and the Constitution (the writ of Christian men, like John Quincy Adams [sic] not to be distinguished from the Pilgrims of Plymouth colony in their aspirations).  Bachmann’s entire social policy and cultural framework has been shaped by the Synod she’s just left behind.

What is even more repugnant however is that Bachmann calculated her move fairly skilfully, so as to preclude it being an issue in a political contest.  She knows that Minnesota is not all Lutherans.  Those wine-making German monks occupied land not otherwise reserved for protesant dairy cows–and Catholic faithful are a powerful electoral force.   Stillwater is a skip away from St Paul, the Catholic twin of Minneapolis, where every Sunday a priest will hold forth from the magnificently rennovated pulpit of the cathedral with a sermon about protecting unborn life being the first duty of a Christian.  Catholic politicians who vote otherwise and against the wisdom of Holy Mother Church?  Screw ’em, and don’t use a condom.

Michele Bachmann knows that she is toast within her own state without the Catholic vote, or more exactly that insofar as there is a Catholic vote any more it is an anti-abortion vote, an anti-gay vote–a “family values” vote.  That’s why when pressed at a forum about the pope being antichrist, Bachmann said passionately and completely mistakenly,

“Well that’s a false statement that was made, and I spoke with my pastor earlier today about that as well, and he was absolutely appalled that someone would put that out. It’s abhorrent, it’s religious bigotry. I love Catholics, I’m a Christian, and my church does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that’s absolutely false.”

Much as Ms Bachmann’s bigotry flickers beneath this denial, it’s nothing compared to the Catholic traducers who are trying to rescue her for the cause.

In a recent statement on Bachmann’s religious views, The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights  said “It’s regrettable that there are still strains of anti-Catholicism in some Protestant circles… But we find no evidence of any bigotry on the part of Rep. Michele Bachmann. Indeed, she has condemned anti-Catholicism. Just as President Barack Obama is not responsible for the views of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rep. Bachmann must be judged on the basis of her own record.”

Jeremiah Wright

The same Church that threw Ted Kennedy to the wolves and vowed to keep John Kerry from receiving communion in the Boston archdiocese has made Michele Bachmann an honorary Catholic.  And why?  Because she has become a champion for the moral and cultural backwardness that Catholic orthodoxy has come to symbolize.

But that’s not the most noxious part of the Catholic League’s endorsement. They want us to see a moral equivalence between the Jeremiah Wright crisis of 2008 and Bachmann’s potential religious liabilities in 2012.

There’s a problem with this “equivalence,” of course.  It’s that Barack Obama didn’t believe most of the things, at least most of the angriest things, Jeremiah Wright spouted in his sermons, and everyone knew it.     Michele Bachmann believes almost everything her church teaches about the Bible, sex, sexuality, evolution, creation, government–you name it.

In fact, she probably believes it more strongly and is in a position to do more about it than any pastor or member of her denomination.  The ancient virus of a regressive American protestantism flows in her blood and influences every part of her social agenda.

She can’t resign from that.

The Stealth Theology of Michele Bachmann

The media likes simple analogies.  That’s why when (rarely) the question of Michele Bachmann’s religious beliefs comes up, they immediately think Kennedy 1960–the Catholic thing.  Soon they will have the voting public believing that Michele Bachmann believes the same thing about religion and political life as JFK did: that they are oil and water, and must be kept strictly apart, as the Constitution decrees.  For her part, Bachmann doesn’t care what you believe as long as you don’t look too closely and permit her to win.

But she doesn’t believe in the wall of separation. Nope, not even a lace curtain.

Michele Bachmann believes that faith is a key element in politicial decision-making:  “I became a Christian when I was 16 years old,” she says. “I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. Since that time, I’ve been a person of prayer. And so when I pray, I pray believing that God will speak to me and give me an answer to that prayer.”

To be clear, we have moved in fifty years from Kennedy’s belief that  religious faith should not be an impediment to holding elective office to Bachmann’s eerily commonplace view that strong, active and directive  religious faith is an indispensable virtue in elected officials.

In addition to being a staunch defender of such evanglical idiocies as creation science and the hoax-theory of global warming, she has also heard voices: “That’s what a calling is — if I pray, a calling means that I feel like I have a sense from God. … It means that I have a sense of assurance about the direction I think that God is speaking into my heart that I should go.”

Bill Prendergast has called Bachmann a “stealth evangelical”– dangerous precisely because she is pretending to be something else, anything else. There is a word for this tactic: it’s called dissimulation, but because it is five syllables it’s above the SAT-level of most media analysts and probably won’t be used much.

Instead Bachmann will continue to deflect the more superficial charges of her “flakiness” when the real issue–the real challenge to her constitutional suitability–is her explicit denial of the purport of the First Amendment.

This is a woman who asks for Americanism tests for members of government, but like so many religious nutters has no idea that the Constitution was designed to protect the civil body politic from religious zealots like her.

She is already perfecting the shill: How can I be a flake when I have “a postdoctorate degree” from William and Mary in federal tax law.  (Translation: She has a degree beyond her basic law degree from Oral Roberts University, where she was a member of the final  graduating class of its failed law school. It got her a job with the IRS.  A cursory check of the William and Mary site shows that the LL.M. degree is no longer offered, except to foreign students.)

Her only other education is from Winona State University.  Except for her gig with the IRS, she has never practiced law.  Whatever the case about her meager accomplishments outside the church, get ready to hear a lot about her “postdoctorate” in the coming months.  It’s her surest protection against the charge that she is a screaming  fundamentalist loon with no education–a virtue she shares with sibling loonies like Sarah Palin, her rival for the Bible Knowledge award.

Bachmann and her husband Marcus, whom she met at WSU in the Christian Intervarsity Fellowship, run a Christian counseling service in Stillwater, Minnesota.  She is a vicious opponent of abortion rights and symbolizes her right to life philosophy by being the foster parent of 23 children.  For a decade, her home has been recognized as a “treatment house.”

Since 1988, when she became infatuated with the Christian exceptionalist theology of Francis Schaeffer, she has prayed outside clinics and provided counseling to girls and women seeking to end their pregnancies.

Prendergast writes that Bachmann’s threat is a life or death battle for American democracy. I agree.  Some of us believe that this battle may already be lost in the faith-sodden atmosphere of this perishing republic.  But insofar as some threats are more worthy of attention and response than others, consider this:

“It’s great to be a ‘stealth evangelical political movement politician’ when it comes to media news coverage. The state’s political media must help you out there by downplaying your ties to politicized religion, because if the voters at large pigeon-hole you as a Dobson puppet, you’d never get elected to anything. …If [Bachmann] ran openly as a candidate of the Christian conservative party (which she is), she’d take her ten thousand votes and get sent home on election night. But if the very same Christian conservative party candidate runs with the label ‘Republican,’ she takes all the Republican votes. It’s the branding, see? That’s why she (and plenty of other evangelical conservatives) run as local ‘stealth’ candidates, claiming to want to represent ‘all’ the voters in district–but actually moving in concert with this national politicized religious movement.”

In general, as everyone knows, the media doesn’t “do” religion well.  The only thing it does worse is science.  And it especially doesn’t like to be openly critical of the religious beliefs of political aspirants unless something really juicy–like the “anti-Americanism” of a Revd. Jeremiah Wright–rears its head.  Remember Obama’s rather pitiful and halting performance in the NBC-sponsored Faith Forum, hosted by evangelical teddy bear Rick Warren? –Now imagine Michele Bachmann in the same setting.  The larger question–why such a “forum” should have any bearing at all on the electoral process in a secular democracy–went virtually unasked.

Meanwhile, the stealth movement has learned a few lessons since the good old days of the Moral Majority and the explicit Christianism of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.  Political groups like Focus on the Family, the Council for National Policy and the Family Research Council have their teams and fundraisers at work in every state.

Since the stupidity-induced implosion of Sarah Palin on Bunker Hill (the irony should not escape us), the darling of the stealth-religious conservatives is Michele Bachmann. Yet one of the grievous flaws of the American media, as opposed to enlightened bloggers and observers like Michelle Goldberg,  is that big media frankly doesn’t know how to frame a story like this.  They still labor under the  assumption that equal time means that good and bad ideas, true and false ideas, should get a fair hearing.

That’s why the same media that’s often assumed to be liberal and lame has actually been complicit  in the survival of anti-science absurdities like the belief that global warming is a socialist conspiracy and that the cosmos is between 5700 and 10,000 years old rather than 15-billion years, the number generally accepted by scientists as “the point of infinite density”–the conditions for the Big Bang.

More and more people are recognizing that Bachmann’s struggle is not just political.  She believes she is engaged in spiritual warfare.  She is an angel of light fighting the powers of secular, atheistic liberal darkness.  Her view of every significant social and moral issue is largely framed in language that Francis Schaeffer (the son of the more famous Christian dominionist)  himself has termed “familiarly Evangelical.”  Look deeply into those sort of scary eyes and you will see Jesus.

She is able to signal her Christian followers by using language familiar to the born again, but totally strange to secular listeners and viewers.  Goldberg writes,

“On Monday [the first Presidential debate], Bachmann didn’t talk a lot about her religion. She didn’t have to—she knows how to signal it in ways that go right over secular heads. In criticizing Obama’s Libya policy, for example, she said, “We are the head and not the tail.” The phrase comes from Deuteronomy 28:13: “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail.” As Rachel Tabachnick has reported, it’s often used in theocratic circles to explain why Christians have an obligation to rule.” Voices.

This is a long way, brothers and sisters, from Kennedy’s pre-election assurances to suspicious protestants,

“Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.” (12 September 1960)

Just look at how far we haven’t come in fifty years.