A can­di­date with faith ... in the Con­sti­tu­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

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, though she has only been in the race a short time. The nu­mero uno, for­mer 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 Mrs. Bach­mann’s trans­gres­sion? She was un­til re­cently a mem­ber of a church that op­poses ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and ho­mo­sex­ual 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 Mrs. 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, Mrs. 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 last cen­tury or so, it has be­come quite civ­i­lized. Ac­tu­ally, I would be rather sur­prised if any Protes- tant 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 Mrs. Bach­mann for the re­li­gious val­ues for 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 Obama. I do not know what Mr. Obama thinks about pa­pal in­fal­li­bil­ity, but I have my sus­pi­cions. My guess is that he doesn’t be­lieve in pa­pal in­falli- bil­ity. He will stick with Jeremiah Wright’s in­fal­li­bil­ity.

To those who would raise re­li­gious is­sues against Mrs. Bach­mann or, for that mat­ter, Mr. Rom­ney — I shall take my stand with my col­league Seth Lip­sky, who I suspect is an­other skep­tic of pa­pal in­fal­li­bil­ity. He cites the Found­ing Fathers. “The most em­phatic sen­tence in the en­tire Con­sti­tu­tion is the one that says ‘[N]o re­li­gious Test shall ever be re­quired as a Qual­i­fi­ca­tion to any Of­fice or pub­lic Trust un­der the United States.’ “ The au­thor of an in­dis­pens­able book for nav­i­gat­ing the tur­bu­lent times in which we live, “The Cit­i­zen’s Con­sti­tu­tion: An An­no­tated Guide,” Mr. Lip­sky is an ir­refragable judge in such mat­ters. We should pay more at­ten­tion to that gen­er­ous and en­light­ened doc­u­ment, the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Mrs. Bach­mann and her Tea Par­ty­ers put their faith in the checks and bal­ances of the Con­sti­tu­tion, its sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and its fed­er­al­ism.

Mrs. Bach­mann has, and that is why she is a grow­ing force in the pres­i­den­tial race. She and the Tea Party move­ment rec­og­nize that the Con­sti­tu­tion posits a blue­print for lib­erty. Mr. Obama makes light of the Con­sti­tu­tion. He is a pro­gres­sive and views the Con­sti­tu­tion as dated. He would look to “ex­perts” to gov­ern us. He fa­vors boards of reg­u­la­tors. They will res­cue us from bankers and other Wall Street types, though it ap­pears that ear­lier reg­u­la­tors and Wall Street types got the econ­omy into its present fix. His reg­u­la­tors will also reg­u­late the health care sys­tems if he has his way, though reg­u­la­tors have a way of be­ing bought off by those with the most in­tense in­ter­est in what they reg­u­late — for in­stance, health care. When the dust has set­tled and Mr. Obama gets his health care pan­els in place, you can be sure that the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try and other health care pro­fes­sions will be there with all kinds of friendly and es­o­teric ad­vice.

Reg­u­la­tors rarely are ef­fec­tive. They of­ten slow down progress and al­ways im­pede free­dom. Think of friendly fas­cism. Mrs. Bach­mann and her Tea Par­ty­ers put their faith in the checks and bal­ances of the Con­sti­tu­tion, its sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and its fed­er­al­ism. That is why she is forg­ing ahead and she and the Tea Par­ty­ers are go­ing to be a force to reckon with in this on­com­ing elec­tion.

R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and edi­tor in chief of the Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor.

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