GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband Marcus preemptively left their church of more than ten years just weeks before she announced her candidacy to avoid association with its extremist views. Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota, has faced criticism this week for its anti-Catholic views, including preaching that the Pope is the Antichrist.
Bachmann has long been a favorite of religious conservatives for her outspoken views on her faith, but her decision to sever ties with her church for the sake of her presidential campaign is surprising many:
According to CNN, the church that Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus had attended for more than a decade granted the couple’s request to be released from their membership last month, a week after Bachmann told a national audience that she would run for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Bachmanns had approached their pastor and verbally made the request “a few weeks before the church council granted the request,” said Joel Hochmuth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the governing body for the church.
The highly convenient timing of the move clearly indicates this was a shrewd political calculation on Bachmann’s part. It remains to be seen how religious “values voters” will feel about the candidate choosing political opportunism over her church.
CNN notes that Salem Lutheran Church still maintains some ties with the Bachmann family. “It lists a Christian counseling center operated by Bachmann’s husband on its website under special member services for confidential counseling.”
Bachmann must still account for her ongoing connection with other radical preachers and churches, especially Bradlee Dean of the notoriously anti-gay You Can Run But You Can’t Hide ministry. Dean has been described as “Bachmann’s Jeremiah Wright,” and has repeatedly called for gays and lesbians to be put in prison and has said executing gays is “moral.”