Yesterday morning in Bible class, my pastor actually made us read Joshua Green's piece on Michele Bachmann's former church body and the shocking revelation that the Lutheran church body is ... Lutheran. We read every word and folks young and old were snickering at some of the more egregious errors and incendiary language. It was an informative Bible class, as they always are, and definitely the first I've ever been to that was solely devoted to the topic of our views on the papacy. Our pastor joked that if any of us planned to run for office, we should leave so we could still claim we'd never heard about our teaching.
One of the things that folks thought hilarious was the idea that our Lutheran views were "controversial."
Sure, we're totally willing to concede that our views on the papacy may have been controversial 500 years ago. Controversy, a word overused by journalists, including myself, means a prolonged public dispute. The idea that they are controversial is not born out in our day-to-day experience -- except when, you know, reporters are going on the attack against a woman they loathe who used to be Lutheran. You could say we're not buying into the manufactured outrage.
Anywho, into this mix I have to tell you may favorite headline. From the Los Angeles Times:
Michele Bachmann leaves church accused of anti-Catholic bias
I mean, we are known for not being Roman Catholic. Haven't been since we were formally kicked out of the church ages ago, to be honest. But I am not sure what is meant by "bias." The word means "a particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question." But the church in question is in trouble precisely because of its doctrinal confessions -- written with much consideration 500 years ago. I don't think "bias" is the word they're looking for.
Basically much of the media coverage is attempting to make it sound like the burden of being Lutheran was just too much for Bachmann to handle and so she fled the church Barack Obama-style. For instance, again from the Times:
Taking a page from President Obama’s political playbook, Michele Bachmann has formally left a church in Minnesota accused of holding anti-Catholic views.
Totally Obama-like. You'll recall, I'm sure, Bachmann's famous "Here I Stand" speech where she claimed she could no more disown the Lutheran Confessions than she could her marriage vows? You don't? Oh, that's because she never said it. In fact, she'd stopped going to her church years ago and only formally left after her former pastor asked what was up.
The Washington Post had that detail:
The conservative church that Michele Bachmann officially left days before launching her presidential campaign said Friday that the Minnesota congresswoman’s decision came at their request.
“The impetus came from the church,” said Joel Hochmuth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the denominational organization that includes the church. “For the pastor’s sake, he wanted to know where he stood with the family.”
Bachmann (R) had stopped attending Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church two years ago but did not formally end her membership until June 21, a date first reported by CNN. The timing raised questions because it came shortly before she formally kicked off her presidential campaign in Waterloo, Iowa, and because the church has taken controversial stands on Catholicism and homosexuality.
Boldfaces mine. First off, the word "conservative" should be used in religious situations only carefully. What does it mean? In context it might work, but this is literally the second word of the story.
Also, you're kidding me that Lutheran views on the papacy are controversial. Again, there is no doubt that they were controversial back when Pope Leo X was in power. Where's the controversy now? Except in the pages of papers that are normally working overtime against Catholicism and its views on abortion, euthanasia, the priesthood, marriage and social norms? And traditional Christian views on homosexuality are now "controversial," too. How come that never works the other way? You know what word wasn't used once in that 5500-word hagiography of Dan Savage and his support for consensual adultery that the New York Times Sunday magazine frontpaged two weeks ago? "Controversial."
(Yes, the same Savage who just this weekend made nationally televised comments about how he wanted all Republicans "f**king dead" and had sex rage fantasies of angrily "f**king the sh*t" out of Rick Santorum and "whipping up" a frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter by sodomizing him. This came after another comedian said of Michele Bachman that he'd thought about "f**king her angrily." These things are not controversial. Not in the least.)
But the WELS is controversial. Got that? I want everyone to remember that confessional Lutherans are the new dangerous, edgy people. I have so wanted this reputation for so long and I don't want this opportunity to be missed. We've been tarnished as the people of casseroles and you-betcha for too long.
But who thinks that we're so edgy? Hard to tell. Here's how the Post puts it:
It has been criticized in part because it holds that the Catholic pope is the Antichrist.
By whom? By
noted theologianreporter Joshua Green? By 16th Century Catholics? The passive voice is really inappropriate considering how much this article is built around the claim of a controversy that presumably extends beyond the Washington Post newsroom or liberal blogs that never would have supported Bachmann in any case. I mean, I doubt that lapsed or collapsed Catholics give much of a hoot about it and I'm pretty sure that all of the more regular Mass-going Catholics I know would pick the media over the Lutherans when deciding who's involved in a coordinated, if not vicious, campaign against their church.
But it doesn't matter. The same outlets that celebrate consensual adultery, homosexuality and abortion are deeply suspicious of people who don't. And they will cut you if you don't share their doctrinal views. But don't worry, they won't cite 2 Thessalonians while doing it. So it's all good.