Taking a page from President Obama’s political playbook, Michele Bachmann has formally left a church in Minnesota accused of holding anti-Catholic views.
According to CNN, the church that Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus had attended for more than a decade, Salem Lutheran in Stillwater, Minn., 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.
Bachmann had apparently been distancing herself from the church for some time. Hochmuth said the couple had not been worshiping with the congregation in more than two years.
Earlier this week, the Atlantic reported that that the synod’s website contains a statement that equates the pope with the antichrist. The writer, Joshua Green, also spoke with Hochmuth, who explained the statement thusly:
“Some people have this vision of a little devil running around with horns and red pointy ears. (Martin) Luther was clear that by ‘antichrist’ [he meant] anybody who puts himself up in place of Christ. Luther never bought the idea of the Pope being God’s voice in today’s world. He believed Scripture is God’s word.”
The matter has been tailing Bachmann for much of her political career. She was asked about the church’s statement in 2006, when she was running for Congress.
“It’s abhorrent, it’s religious bigotry,” Bachmann said then. “I love Catholics, I’m a Christian, and my church does not believe that the pope is the antichrist, that’s absolutely false.”
Green asked Bill Donahue, the fiery president of the Catholic League, about the synod’s assertion. “Clearly, that is anti-Catholic,” he said.
Obama left his church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, in May 2008 after incendiary sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright surfaced in the heat of his bitter presidential fight with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.