Emmett Tyrrell
WASHINGTON -- It seems Rep. Michele Bachmann is under increased scrutiny for her religious views, even as she climbs ever higher in the presidential polls. With tea party support, she is now No. 2 in the Republican polls even though she has been in the race for only a short time. The numero uno, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is himself the victim of gentler bigotry for his religious views. He is a Mormon. No, I did not say moron. I said Mormon.

What is Bachmann's transgression? She was, until recently, a member of a church that opposes homosexuality and gay marriage. It also takes issue with the Roman Catholic papacy. It is the Salem Lutheran Church of Stillwater, Minn. And by the way, it is no longer Bachmann's church. She now attends the evangelical church Eagle Brook, in another part of Stillwater, where she now lives. A close friend, JoAnne Hood, tells The New York Times that the Bachmanns "are absolutely not against the gays. They are just not for marriage" -- presumably not for gay marriage. As for their position on the Catholic papacy, Hood is mum.

Well, I speak as a Roman Catholic. I do not know what the Salem Lutheran Church's complaint is, but if it is the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility, I think I understand. The debate began in 1517 and got rather bloody. Yet over the past century or so, it has become quite civilized. Actually, I would be rather surprised if any Protestant or, for that matter, Jew accepted papal infallibility. But that does not mean I would not vote for a Protestant or Jew for president.

This sniping at Bachmann for the religious values of her former church is a bit hypocritical. In 2008, we elected as president a man who attended the church of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright for 20 years. He remained a member until May 2008, when he resigned under fire. The Rev. Wright regularly spouted racist bilge and assessments of this country that were frankly anti-American. Some of those views were very close to those expressed here and abroad by President Barack Obama. I do not know what President Obama thinks about papal infallibility, but I have my suspicions. My guess is that he is against papal infallibility. He will stick with Jeremiah Wright's infallibility.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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