Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann today announced that she would not be seeking re-election to her seat in 2014. While partisans on both sides of the left-right divide can speculate on why she has chosen to do this, I think it’s important to take a quick look at the legacy left by her somewhat unorthodox and highly effective mixture of (politically and socially) conservative Christian populism. Specifically, I think it’s important to showcase how religious minorities (including modern Pagans) were made increasingly anxious by the affiliations she celebrated and stances she took. “We’re in a state of crisis where our nation is literally ripping apart at the seams right now, and lawlessness is occurring from one ocean to the other. And we’re seeing the fulfillment of the Book of Judges here in our own time, where every man doing that which is right in his own eyes—in other words, anarchy.”
Just a few quick news notes for you on this Thursday. NAR on Fresh Air: I’ve written at some length on the Christian movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a group that’s been getting increased media scrutiny lately due to their proximity to presidential candidates like Texas governor Rick Perry. However, as the recent blowback over the term “Dominionist” proves, there’s quite a bit people don’t know about this increasingly connected religio-political network of apostles and prophets. A key figure in studying the origins and activities of NAR is Rachel Tabachnick of Talk To Action, who was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s Fresh Air. “On Wednesday’s Fresh Air, Rachel Tabachnick, who researches the political impact of the religious right, joins Terry Gross for a discussion about the growing movement and its influence and connections in the political world. Tabachnick says the movement currently works with a variety of politicians and has a presence in all 50 states.
Forgive the nod to Nirvana, whose “Nevermind” is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, but I’ve been reading an awful lot lately about accusations of paranoia regarding coverage of the Christian religious phenomenon known as Dominionism. For some reason Kurt Cobain sneering “just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you” kept entering my mind. Maybe it’s a generational thing.
In any case, ever since the presidential candidacies of Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas governor Rick Perry started making news, their connections to conservative Christian groups who espouse some form of Dominionism, a religio-political movement that seeks “influence or control over secular civil government through political action,” has been getting increased attention in the mainstream media. The three most prominent examples come from Forrest Wilder’s piece on Rick Perry in the Texas Observer, Ryan Lizza’s piece on Michele Bachmann in The New Yorker, and Michelle Goldberg’s piece on both candidates in The Daily Beast.
Top Story: In the second part of a six-part series on the geopolitical ramifications of global warming in the Arctic, NPR’s Morning Edition focuses on Russia’s aggressive push to claim waterways and resources becoming available as the Arctic ice melts. One group that is particularly concerned over the rush to claim the Arctic is the indigenous Saami people, a group native to the Kola Peninsula of Russia. NPR interviews traditional singer Nadezhda Lyashenko, who discusses the environmental consequences of this rush to exploit one of the few remaining untouched regions on our planet. The indigenous people of this region bore much of the brunt. The Saami tribe, for one, has lived centuries in Russia’s northwest, near the Norwegian border.
Republican presidential candidate Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is performing strongly in Iowa polls, and while some are skeptical that she has the momentum necessary to win the Republican nomination, we are often told to not underestimate her. So until such time as it becomes clear that Bachmann won’t be able to grab the brass ring and face off against President Obama in 2012, or perhaps get the nod as a Vice Presidential candidate, we should take her potential rise to the executive branch of the United States government seriously. In the past I have pointed out that Bachmann funneled tainted campaign money into an anti-Pagan Christian charity (which they later returned), has had a long friendship with pseudo-historian David “paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses” Barton (Bachmann wanted Barton to teach the 2010 freshmen House Republicans about the Constitution), and has been a longtime supporter of virulently anti-gay Christian musician/activist Bradlee Dean. Any one of those instances is enough to give any Pagan pause, but a recent in-depth profile of Bachmann by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker provides one more. In the New Yorker piece, Lizza recounts how Bachmann tells an audience in Iowa how the 1970s evangelical Christian documentary “How Should We Then Live” had a “profound influence” on her life. “[“How Should We Then Live”] also was another profound influence on Marcus’s life and my life, because we understood that the God of the Bible isn’t just about Bible stories and about Bible knowledge, or about just church on Sunday.