Chill, please, on the submission obsession

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I can't believe we're still talking about Rep. Michele Bachmann and wifely submission, but let's review a little bit before we can hopefully move on from the topic.

To quickly recap, Bachmann was asked during the debate in Iowa:

In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea, and then you explained: 'But the Lord said, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husband.' As president, would you be submissive to your husband?

Last week, I wrote that I felt the question during the debate in Iowa for Bachmann was not completely irrelevant, since she brought it up in the past. However, if the question had been framed differently ("Some evangelicals believe that wives should be submissive to their husbands. Will you be submissive to your husband?"), it would have pretty strange. If you aren't familiar with the biblical passages on submission, it can sound a little odd, but "submission" can manifests itself very differently for various couples.

Please do not misunderstand me: I am not in defend-anyone-mode, including York or Bachmann. We are purely interested in how the media covers religion and politics and what kinds of questions are being raised as a result of that coverage.

Some reporters are still eager to learn more about this area of submission in Bachmann's personal life, so it seems appropriate to revisit this area. Stephen A. highlighted further GR discussion in a comment about MSNBC's Meet the Press interview between David Gregory and Bachmann:

Did anyone catch the Meet the Press interview with Rep. Bachmann Sunday?

Host David Gregory tried to get her to say (and strongly implied that) she "heard voices" (ala schizophrenia) because she had earlier admitted she had "listened" to God's will when choosing a career and running for public office.

Talk about NOT getting religion!

I don't share her beliefs and am not likely to support her politically but as a reporter, I would NEVER be so ignorant of religion that I'd ask such a thing in that way.

Yes, this interview is fairly stressful for people who are eager to see journalists covering religion in politics in a fair and balanced manner. Let's start with the beginning of the portion on faith and beliefs.

MR. GREGORY: From the economy, I want to move on to another topic that’s deeply meaningful and important to you, and that’s your faith in God. This is something that not only motivates you as a person, inspires you as you try to live a virtuous life, but it’s also been very important to your political identity as well. And I want to ask you about, not only the role God plays in, in your life but to what extent he’s a motivator for decisions that you make.

Let's discuss this line of questioning. It comes across that though having something outside of yourself possibly motivating and influencing your beliefs and actions would be absolutely nuts. Perhaps we should recall some of our current president's words earlier this year at the National Prayer Breakfast.

"When I wake in the morning, I wait on the Lord, I ask him to give me the strength to do right by our country and our people," Obama said. "And when I go to bed at night, I wait on the Lord and I ask him to forgive me my sins and to look after my family and to make me an instrument of the Lord."

Obama also plugged Charity: Water and its founder, Scott Harrison, saying, "That's the kind of faith that moves mountains."

Of course, Obama's faith and Bachmann's faith may play out very differently in terms of policy, but we probably should not be terribly shocked that a person leading our nation seeks a higher power.

Gregory does go into the submission angle, playing the 2006 clip without offering any context.

MR. GREGORY: Is that your view for women in America? Is that your vision for them?

Why would Gregory think that because Bachmann chooses to be submissive to her husband that it would be her vision for all women in America? What we need to recognize is that Bachmann was speaking at the Living Word Church in Brooklyn Park, Minn., back in 2006. You need this piece of info to understand that she was speaking to a particular audience that might already refer to a certain set of shared beliefs before you jump into the question about whether that might influence her if she became president. Bachmann gave the same answer she gave in the debate, which is that she and her husband respect each other.

MR. GREGORY: But you said that Gald -- God called me to run for Congress. God has said certain things about, you know, going to law school, about pursuing other decisions in your life. There’s a difference between God as a sense of comfort and safe harbor and inspiration, and God telling you to take a particular action.

There's a warm and fuzzy faith that we many of us can get behind but suddenly if a candidate feels called to pursuing a particular career path, that's going too far?

The rest of the interview focuses on the same kinds of question on her views about gay couples and qualified candidates for the judicial system or her administration, if she won the election. The questioning goes around and around in circles and doesn't seem to advance anything new, since Bachmann continues her line, "I'm not judging. I’m running for the presidency of the United States." Maybe if Gregory found more original questions that other reporters haven't already picked over, he might have uncovered more interesting answers.

MR. GREGORY: One last one on this. Can a gay couple with -- who adopt children in your mind be considered a family?

REP. BACHMANN: When it comes to marriage and family, my opinion is that marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think that’s, that’s been my view, and I think that’s important.

MR. GREGORY: So a gay couple with kids would not be considered a family to you?

Perhaps voters as less interested in her personal views about whether a gay couple is considered "a family," but how that manifests itself into policy. As president, for instance, would she attempt to do anything on the federal level on adoption and gay couples?

Back to the beginning of the subject, asking about wifely submission was OK (a little silly, but okay) for about two minutes and has provoked some interesting discussion and introspection about marriage, but we need to move on -- quickly, before we forget that there are many, many other issues to discuss.

So, what kinds of questions are you looking for from the candidates as it relates to religion and politics?

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