Michele Bachman, Christian Reconstructionism and the Law

By Mike Appleton (Guest Blogger)

When Byron York asked Michelle Bachmann last week whether, if elected President, she would be “submissive” to her husband, the audience reacted with a collective gasp, followed by scattered boos.  After a brief pause, Rep. Bachmann calmly replied that her relationship with her husband is one of mutual love and respect.

The criticism of the question was immediate and fierce.  Was it not sexist, paternalistic and condescending?  Did it not violate the spirit of religious pluralism? Did it not offend the principle underlying the constitutional ban on religious tests for public office?  Besides, had not the issue of a President’s private religious views been permanently placed off limits in 1960 when a Roman Catholic named John F. Kennedy assured the Greater Houston Ministerial Association of his commitment to “an America where the separation of church and state is absolute-where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be a Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote-where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference…”?

Appearing on Fox News the following day, Mr. York meekly defended his question as an effort to prepare Rep. Bachmann for what she can expect during the coming campaign, and stated that she had handled it quite well.  Mr. York’s timid explanation means that he did not understand the profound significance of his own inquiry.  Rep. Bachmann’s disingenuous answer means that she did.

In my view Rep. Bachmann’s religious beliefs are a mandatory topic for thorough examination and public debate.  Why?  Because she espouses a brand of Christianity that seeks not merely to transform the institutions of government, but to absorb them into a reconstructed society build upon a foundation of Old Testament law, a goal which implicates the Constitution and which strikes at the heart of the idea of secular government.

Michele Bachmann’s religion is grounded in the Christian reconstruction theology of A.J. Rushdoony, the late pastor and neo-Calvinist theologian.  At the center of Mr. Rushdoony’s teaching is the idea that the source of all human knowledge is God, and that the acquisition of knowledge must come through  the truth revealed by God in the sacred scriptures.  This belief required that he reject the rationalism of the Enlightenment as a sort of idolatry, the worship of autonomous human reason independent of God.     It follows from this thesis that the legitimacy of government requires its submission to the sovereignty of God through compliance with God’s law as outlined in the Bible, particularly the Mosaic law of the Old Testament.  His three-volume work “The Institutes of Biblical Law” is widely taught in Christian schools and colleges.  Reconstructionist theology demands of Christians that they exercise dominion over all creation, including social, legal and political institutions, and restructure them to properly reflect the sovereignty of God through biblical law.  Rushdoony thus shared with the Pilgrims the view of America as the shining city on the hill, the Kingdom of God on earth.  As a pure theocrat, Rushdoony regarded all law as religious in nature and firmly denounced democracy.

One of Rushdoony’s early disciples was Herb Titus, the Harvard trained lawyer who recently defended Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in his unsuccessful effort to avoid removal from the bench after defying a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state courthouse.  Mr. Titus was instrumental in the creation of the O.W. Coburn School of Law at Oral Roberts University and helped secure accreditation from the ABA despite the requirement that all students sign a pledge professing their Christianity.  The school’s goal was the training of lawyers committed to the principle that biblical law is the only acceptable foundation for civil law.  Rep. Bachmann was in the first graduating class.  The law school has since been closed and transferred to the law shool at Regent University, whose alumni include Monica Goodling, the former DOJ lawyer forced to resign after it was revealed that she was requiring prospective DOJ lawyers to satisfy ideological purity tests.  A prominent member of the faculty is John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general under Pres. Bush who felt compelled to cover the bare breasts of the “Spirit of Justice” sculpture in the Justice Department.

Christian reconstructionists reject both religious pluralism and the concept of separation of church and state as a false notion championed by secular humanists.  They support the abolition of unions, elimination of minimum wage laws, the criminal prosecution of homosexuals and the dismantling of social welfare programs.  They regard the public school system as an un-Christian vehicle for collectivist indoctrinatiion of children.  It may be recalled that Rep. Bachmann first came to prominence in Minnesota through her activist promotion of home schooling. And yes, they embrace the biblical model of the patriarchal family with the husband at its head, guiding, protecting, instructing and correcting his wife and children.

So the question posed to Rep. Bachmann by Byron York was neither impertinent nor irrelevant.  If he and other journalists can be criticized for anything, it is for not asking the hard questions, for not asking Rep. Bachmann to explain the potential impact of her religious beliefs on the future structure of American legal, political and religious institutions.

Sources: Sharlet, J., “The Family” (2008); Phillips, K., “American Theocracy” (2006); Jacoby, S., “Freethinkers” (2004); McVicar, M.J., “The Liberation Theocrats,” 22 The Public Eye, No. 3 (Fall, 2007); Schutt, M.P., “Law and the Biblical Tradition: Select Bibliography for Christian Law Students” (found at lawcf.org).

51 thoughts on “Michele Bachman, Christian Reconstructionism and the Law”

  1. If we brought back biblical law then females wouldn’t be running for office, and any male who even looked at a woman with lust in his eyes would be subject to stoning? Divorce of course, would go away and so would a lot of other things that this world prides itself in, including the sin of pride. Now that would be an interesting world indeed. Would probably wipe out the largest majority of the population, because coveting money is a big no-no. Hmmmm…. Things to ponder.

  2. In my book, Michelle Bachmann and her cronies are guilty of conspiring to commit treason. ie. attempting to overthrow the government. Let’s call it what it is.

  3. Bachmann Still Claiming Income From Federally-Subsidized Farm She Insists She Doesn’t Benefit From
    By Pat Garofalo
    Think Progress Economy
    Aug 16, 2011

    A few months ago, the Los Angeles Times pointed out that virulenty anti-government spending Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was receiving income from a farm that collected federal subsidies. Bachmann responded by claiming, “the farm is my father-in-law’s farm, it’s not my husband and my farm. My husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm.” However, Bachmann claimed income from the farm on her 2009 financial disclosure form.

    As McClatchy noted today, Bachmann — all her protests aside — claimed income from the farm again in 2010, which were filed last week:

    Despite repeatedly asserting that she has never received income from a family farm that has drawn federal subsidies in the past, Rep. Michele Bachmann again listed the farm as a source of income when she filed her 2010 personal financial disclosures late last week. Bachmann, R-Minn., also reported that the farm had more than doubled in value since 2009. […]

    Bachmann’s financial disclosures paint a different picture. Since 2006, she has reported receiving between $37,504 and $120,000 in income from the farm, including between $5,001 and $15,000 that she disclosed for the 2010 calendar year.

    Bachmann also reported that her farm doubled in value over the past year: “In 2009, Bachmann listed the farm as an asset worth between $100,001 and $250,000. In her 2010 forms, Bachmann valued the farm between $500,001 and $1 million.” The counseling clinic that Bachmann runs with her husband has also received federal funding.

  4. Mespo,
    I don’t know if the question actually has to be asked. She will spit it out in one way or another during her so-called campaign without even asking. She is trying to live and die by her alleged Christianity, as is Perry.

  5. Jay S:

    How about a simpler question: If your views of Christianity conflicted with the duties of your office, which path would you choose to follow?

  6. Michele needs to be asked, over and over, until she answers without equivocation:
    “Suppose you are elected President. If you decide on Policy X but your husband says, ‘no, I deem that you should pursue Policy Y,’ which would you pursue – your policy or your husband’s?
    That is, would your husband have an absolute right to review and overrule your actions? Who would be president, you or your husband?”

    And this needs to be hammered at her again and again until she answers.

    (And while we’re at it, I’d like to have someone ask her how old she thinks the earth is…..)

  7. I loved Bill Maher’s piece about Bachmann even though it was past history from several months ago.

    There was one mistake in it that actually makes the point even more emphatically. At the beginning and the end there is a note about sheeple with the sound of sheep baaing in the background. The picture, however, shows an Angora goat. This is more appropriate because the individuals who take Bachmann seriously are the “goats” that, according to the New Testament, will be cast from God’s presence on Judgment Day.

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