“You put your whole self in. And you shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey. And you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.” If, as some think, these words are not nonsensical but describe an ecstatic religious experience, they seem to describe Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to a tee.
Right Wing Watch reports that “Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference, Bachmann insisted that public policy should reflect what she thinks God says – and she urged American Christians to focus on ‘spiritual warfare’ in order to promote right-wing policies.”
Funny. I don’t remember this requirement for or any allusion to spiritual warfare from the United States Constitution each and every one of the fifty states has sworn to abide by. Is it possible that Michele Bachmann is imagining an America that does not, in fact, exist? Sure it is. And yes she is. Whatever country Michele Bachmann thinks she is living in, or from whatever state she might choose to flee, it is not the United States of America.
Watch Bachmann in action courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
You see if we retreat from our values and fail to make the case on issues like marriage – because it is one man, one woman – because God said it is. Not because it’s poll tested – because God said it is. And life – not because it’s poll tested, because God stands for life.
You can see quite clearly the flaw in Bachmann’s reasoning: this claim that marriage is what conservative Christians say it is because they say God said so. There are two problems with this claim:
- God nowhere offers in the Old Testament (or the New) a definition of marriage. If we use the Bible as a guide, we can easily come away with thinking that the formula “1 man + 1 woman + x concubines” or “1 man + 1 woman + female slaves” constitutes a legal and holy marriage. Nowhere, anywhere does God say marriage is “1 man + 1 woman.” If you want “traditional marriage” try polygyny; there are rules governing polygyny (Exodus 21:10, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Deuteronomy 21:15-17, Deuteronomy 17:17) but it is nowhere forbidden. It was taking place during Jesus’ own lifetime and Jesus not once mentions it;
- It doesn’t matter to non-Christians what Christians insist the Bible says, because the Bible is not holy writ to us and their god, if he exists at all, is not OUR god; and also, more importantly, because the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” In other words, legally as well as spiritually, we are free to disregard Bachmann and her God and his imagined wishes.
On the life issue too, Bachmann’s appeal falls flat. God smites people right and left in the Old Testament and demands the people of Israel become his executioners. God of life? Not so much. If there is a more bloody-minded tyrant in the history of the world than YHWH, I do not know of it. Men, women, children – entire cities – the guilty and innocent alike (even animals like ox and sheep! – see 1 Samuel 15:1), go down before God’s wrath for the simple reason they dared to say no to men who claimed to speak in God’s name.
As will become apparently, Bachmann has not read either the Bible or the United States Constitution, a rather serious failing for one who claims to speak for one and to uphold the other.
She goes on to explain,
He made us in his image and likeness. And if we tread too softly on issues, like taking on Islamic jihad, and if we fight too timidly, and if we strive too meekly, then I think we all understand we very easily could come face to face with defeat, and then our nation would in fact pay a great and a lasting price, one that none of us wants to face.
Things are a little dicey here for Bachmann as well: because he made us in his image, we have to be strong in our opposition to something that did not exist when either the Old or the New Testament was written (e.g. Islamic Jihad)?
Where in the Bible is opposition to Islamic Jihad expressed as God’s will? Nowhere. Because when the Bible was written there was no Islam. Is it possible Michele Bachmann has a copy of the Bible nobody else has? I’ve searched my New Revised Standard Version again and again and come up empty.
Another problem is her vague reference to “issues.” Let’s face it, very few of the issues conservative Christians appeal to the Bible to resolve are actually addressed by the Bible, including the all important abortion issue. In the Old Testament, God demands abortions, after all (as at Hosea 13:15 where God demands pregnant women be ripped open). In Exodus 21:22-25 we are told that if a man accidentally kills a pregnant woman, he is guilty of murder. Tellingly, if only the fetus dies (miscarriage) he is not guilty of murder.
The fetus is not a human being in Jewish Law. God (who is said to be the author of this law) nowhere condemns or bans the killing of fetuses.
And we’ve already looked at the vague definition of Biblical marriage.
What Bachmann is really insisting on is that anything she and her conservative Christian friends don’t like, God doesn’t like.
This is a common failing, throughout all of Christian history, of conservative Christians, who always imagine God agrees with their prejudices. How could he not? They are doing His will after all!
Because we need to recognize the desperate situation of our condition, not only in the natural but also in the supernatural. Because as the scripture was read from the pulpit at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, we fight not against this world, we fight against the powers and principalities and ‘Prince of the Air,’ that’s where we need to focus as well, is on spiritual warfare…
Here we go with the spiritual warfare. As I’ve said here before, Republicans are fighting a war many liberals do not even imagine. There is the war of the polls, the public debate we can all engage in. But then, behind the scenes, there is this spooky world of the supernatural where conservative Christians try to defeat us through prayer. Their prayer has no actual power outside of themselves so I have generally ignored all the prayers leveled against me (and yes, I’ve been personally targeted). I can do that because their prayers are so much wind.
But the point I wish to make here is that if you read the United States Constitution Michele Bachmann has sworn an oath to uphold, you will see that the democratic process in this country – where political power derives not from God (who is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution) but from the People – leaves out God and spiritual warfare entirely. The Preamble of the Constitution says:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
For some reason, though they pay it lip service, conservatives have a problem with the whole “We the People” concept (something she dismisses as “poll tested”). Michele Bachmann seems to envision an America governed not through the democratic process but through a prayer-tyranny of the bigoted few.
Bachmann’s problem is that the Constitution establishes a system of checks and balances between three branches – the Executive, the legislative, and the judicial. You will note the complete absence of God in this arrangement. The way things work is, the people vote for their president and representatives and senators in Congress. There is no reference made to or allowance made for, the “hokey pokey,” or for prayers to supersede votes.
I think Bachmann imagines the modern liberal democracy to function on very different grounds than those established by our Founding Fathers.
What is troubling is about all this is that Michele Bachmann is not only some religious crank; she is also an elected official herself, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Minnesota’s 6th District.
But in point of fact, Michele Bachmann is not representing the people of her district but the religion-based bigotry of a minority even of American Christians; she is not even representing the ideals of the United States of America as established by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In fact, she seems to think that she is living in ancient Israel where, much to her chagrin I am sure, she would likely have been stoned to death by now for her outbursts by the God-ordained male-dominated society.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.