Does the Media Think Michele Bachmann is the Anti-Christ?
2:34 PM, Jul 14, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Winning the sweepstakes for the most hysterical piece of political journalism in recently is no mean feat, but I think Joshua Green at The Atlantic might have done it:
Now as it happens, this immediately set off alarm bells because I happen to be one of the millions of Lutherans in the country. (Though it should be noted the headline is very misleading because Bachmann no longer goes to a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod church.) This might be news to some beltway reporters, but as it happens some wars over this and handful of other important theological issues were fought betweent Catholics and Lutherans in the 16th century. It was called the Reformation. It was kind of big deal.
My better half, who happens to be a religion reporter, put it this way:
We may forget how different Pope Leo X was from some of his successors, but the Reformation era also saw the Council of Trent and its anathematization of Lutheran beliefs. Lutherans didn't get their anti-papcy rhetoric from nowhere; it was a two-way street.
Yet, somehow Catholics and Lutherans have been living side by side in the American midwest all this time without civil unrest. After nearly half a millennium and the general prospering of freedom of religion thanks largely to the founding of America, Lutherans and Catholics celebrate their common Christian values and are otherwise content to politely argue the theological issues on the merits. Imagine that.
While nothing Green writes in his report is egregiously untrue (though the fact that Bachmann is no longer a WELS Lutheran should have strangled this report in the crib anyway), the idea that Green thought this would somehow be controversial dramatically illustrates three points. One, national reporters -- and left-leaning political class more generally -- are embarassingly ignorant of basic Christian history. (And given the significance of the Reformation, we can just abbreviate that to the fact they're ignorant of basic history.) Two, there's a far too prevalent view that American Christians are motivated politically by radical tribalist beliefs. And three, left-leaning America must really believe Michele Bachmann is the Anti-Christ because there's no accusation transparently absurd enough to avoid flinging at her.
Ok, maybe I'm exaggeratingly slightly on that last point. But not much.