Michele Bachmann's beliefs are front and center in Core of Conviction, her new book that touches on her faith, family, and politics. Earlier this year, the GOP candidate withdrew her membership from Salem Lutheran Church, a church belonging to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which received media attention earlier this year for calling the papacy the Antichrist. Bachmann told CT that following a move, the family now attends Rockpoint Church in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. Bachmann, who received her J.D. degree from Oral Roberts University, spoke with CT about her new church affiliation, charismatic ties, and why she believes it's time for the country to place a mother in the White House.
Your book focuses a lot on your faith, but the election has been so focused on the economy. Have you felt pressure to focus more on economic issues this cycle because of the Tea Party or other factors?
The issue that people are talking about includes, how will we turn the economy around, what's the plan to turn it around, how can people get their life back to normal again? It's important to talk about what people care about, but we've had other forums as well. On Saturday night we focused on the issues of religious faith, values, and morality at a church in Iowa. It's important to talk about that because the underpinning of society is religious faith. Morals are built on religious faith. Virtue is built on morality and influences a culture.
After that forum on Saturday, your campaign issued a news release suggesting Newt Gingrich has failed to have a consistent pro-life standard. Can you explain what you meant?
I've always been pro-life from conception to natural death. It's important for the Republican nominee to maintain what we stand for. We are the party that stands for all of life, whether it's convenient or inconvenient, whether it's perfect or imperfect. My husband and I have been blessed with biological children of our own, and we have broken hearts for children from challenging situations. We knew a couple at our church who had foster children, and we were challenged to ask ourselves, "Could we do that as well?" We took our doubts to the Lord, went through the process and became licensed and opened our home. Over the years, we've raised 28 children; we've been married 33 years and parents for 29, and we've just sent the last one off to college. These children will be our greatest legacy. All five of our biological children know the Lord, walk with the Lord, and we're very proud of them.
Should social conservatives seeking a family values candidate consider a candidate's marital past?
Voters will look at all aspects of a candidate. Certainly people make mistakes in their life. I'm no different, I've made mistakes. When people mess up, we forgive them. When I mess up, I ask for forgiveness. People want to look at a candidate's life and ask, "Who are you, what is your character?" I do have a core sense of convictions, I've lived those convictions. I'm not perfect, but when I've been wrong, I've said I've been wrong, and I've asked my family to forgive me, my co-workers to forgive me. We need to continue to walk in a state of grace. People do want to know the choices we've made and what we have done.
You brought up President Obama's past association to his former pastor Jeremiah Wright as a concern, saying Wright is anti-American. Should the President find a regular church to attend despite the criticism he faced because of his previous pastor?
I have a regular church we attend in our community. The President is in a unique situation. I am certainly not judging the President of the United States. I think the larger issue is, what will the President do, what's his philosophy, what guides him? For me, I am driven by a biblical worldview, just like the Declaration of Independence is: "We are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights." I believe in that creator, and I owe to him my life and everything about me. That core sense of conviction, that philosophy is important for all presidential candidates to lay on the table.
You mentioned your church attendance. Where do you attend now?
We attend Rockpoint Church in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. We had lived in another part of the community and we moved about 20 minutes away, so we moved to a church that was closer.
With the previous Lutheran church you attended, did you have any concerns about the stances they took?
No, it was a wonderful, conservative Lutheran church. The pastors were marvelous there. We really enjoyed being a part of it. We were very active. My husband was involved in the school board, our children attended school there. We were grateful for the years of fellowship there. Very giving, loving people attended that church. We gained a lot and we hope we contributed.
You told Charisma recently that during your time at Oral Roberts, you and your husband "were Spirit-filled and we went to a Spirit-filled church." Do you still have ties to the charismatic movement?
We are Spirit-filled Christians and we remain so. It's a matter of recognizing all three parts of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, he said he left the Spirit with us. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, our teacher. That's why, in prayer, we can ask the Lord to open up Scripture and make it come alive to us, to open our understanding. He left his Spirit with us until we join him in heaven.
Have you followed any discussions on what some people call "Dominionism?" For instance, in the New Yorker profile of you, there were connections made between you and Rousas John Rushdoony, someone who has called for a pure Christian theocracy. If the people want government to do something that goes against teachings in the Bible, should the President and Congress side with the people or the Bible?
No, I haven't followed that. I am not ashamed of my faith at all, and it guides me in what I do. But as President of the United States, I also stand and answer to the people based on the Constitution of the United States. That's what would guide me as President. The people elect the President, and we need to listen to the people and what their will is. At the same time, we're a constitutional republic, and if the people want something that is not in accordance with the Constitution, it's up to the President and the people's representatives to explain why something is unconstitutional. For instance, Obamacare has the individual mandate that forces every American as a condition of citizenship to purchase a product or service even if they don't want to. That's never happened before, that's unconstitutional.
At a recent debate, you discussed your views on waterboarding. If you were President and we had troops who were waterboarded, what would your response be?
Number one, I would not put our troops in harm's way unless there was a clear, vital American interest. I would do everything I could to secure their release. One thing I think people fail to understand about waterboarding is that people are not injured or killed in that process. It is an uncomfortable process, but people don't receive permanent injuries, nor are they killed in the process.
Are there tactics you would denounce as torture?
Absolutely. Radical Islamic terrorists behead United States citizens. We aren't anywhere in the same ballpark when we're talking about the tactics taken by radical Islamists, who seek to kill Americans, behead Americans, they have inflicted torture on Americans. That's why I am committed to defeating radical Islamic terrorism.
Addressing the stories about your migraines, you wrote, "It appeared political foes were maybe playing the gender card." Do you believe that you have been treated unfairly because you are a woman?
I think there are different challenges for a female candidate. I'm a woman, I'm a mother, and I think it's high time we have a mother in the White House. But I'm not running on being a mother. I haven't complained in the media about my treatment as a woman by the media. CBS had sent an e-mail saying they would limit the time I had on stage. We don't know what their motivation was, but I think it's important that a woman be heard. All candidates should be heard, because 70 percent of the electorate in some polls are saying they're undecided about who the next President should be, so the media shouldn't choose who the next President is. That should be up to the people.
Do women—especially Christian women—face particular challenges when pursuing a political career? Is it more internal beliefs or pressures, like feeling like they should be home with their children, or more external pressures going against them?
I don't think so. One thing I've learned is that I can have it all, but I can't have it all at once. I spent years and years and years rearing our children. My number one job description for my whole life was to be a happy mother at home raising our children. I'm grateful to God and my husband that I had that privilege. I wouldn't trade being able to stay at home and rear the children for anything in the world. I was also privileged to put myself through college, law school, and a post-graduate degree in tax law, and I worked as a professional—as a federal tax attorney. I also was privileged to start a business and run a company. I led the education reform movement, I helped raise 23 foster children, I was a state senator, I carried the marriage amendment in Minnesota, and I led the movement against Obamacare. I'm also 55 years of age, so I spent 50 years as a real person and 5 years fighting in the lion's den in Washington, D.C. I wouldn't have been able to do that—at least, it wouldn't have been my choice to do that—when I was a young mother with little children. I've been able to accomplish these goals at various points in my life, and I couldn't have done it without a godly husband and father to my children.
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Core of Conviction is available from ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.
Christianity Today also interviewed Michele Bachmann earlier this year. CT has interviewed other GOP candidates, including Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney.
CT also follows political developments on the politics blog.
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