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Memo to Michele Bachmann: YOU ARE BUSTED.
In both senses of the word. Busted in the head, of course, and busted in the sense of getting caught with the Hand Of God in the manna jar. Last weekend, you see, Bachmann was speaking at the Living Word Christian Center here in the Twin Cities. And the pastor, Mac Hammond, introduced her in a way that has caused a bit of an uproar. Let's throw the introduction out there and see if you, the viewer, can spot what's wrong with it. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"We can't publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I'm going to vote for Michele Bachmann."
We'll score this on a hundred point scale.
That last one scores low because it's so easy. The official defense from the pastor is "Oops, I thought I could say that" on the endorsement thing, and "Oops, I meant to say I would if I could" on the whole district mix-em-up. It was merely an honest mistake by a practiced public speaker three weeks before a hotly-contested election! Not a further attempt to boost the nutjob bonafides of a woman who claims she fasted for three days, praying for an answer to whether she should run for Congress or not.
So we've gotten the minimalist denial, and we all know what comes next: March of The Apologists. This is why getting caught never matters, remember. Even when caught on tape breaking the law, there are always going to be plenty of people willing to line up, muddy the waters, and act persecuted, thereby turning that which actually happened and was filmed into a debate over what actually happened even though it was filmed.
Since this is a local issue, we get to hear from Katherine Kersten. Yes, the woman who can take Ken Mehlman's talking points and make them duller, using her columnist's pulpit to tell us that "I’m not an IRS lawyer, and don’t know how to split that hair. I do know that if anyone but a conservative Christian had made such an appearance, we wouldn’t be hearing this volume of noise."
Luckily, the IRS lawyers know how to split that hair, which is why they went to the extra effort this year to remind churches across the country on which side of that hair Jesus needs to stay. Kersten's second statement is both technically true and demonstrably false - it's technically true because this kind of thing ONLY EVER HAPPENS with conservative Christians. And it's demonstrably false, because we all remember that church in Florida that's been fighting to keep its tax-free status because conservatives complained about the message that JESUS WAS ANTI-WAR.
But, you know. Kersten gets paid to do that. She's got an excuse. I don't understand why rank amateurs throw in their ignorant two cents for free. Like Brian Gronquist, who, in a letter to the editor mostly arguing the tired point that the separation church and state is a myth, closed with the following: "IRS tax-free status aside, Michele has done nothing wrong."
This is semantically equivalent to "Apart from trying to kill Ronald Reagan, Jodie Foster has done nothing wrong." First, violating the tax-free status is the only thing anyone's said was wrong, and second, it wasn't Bachmann who did it, it was somebody who did it on Bachmann's behalf. The only difference is that Jodie Foster had no idea it was happening and didn't approve.
The rules keeping politics out of the pulpit are ridiculously easy to subvert as it is. And if we're just going to let something like this slide with a slap on the wrist, we might as well drop the laws entirely, revoke the tax-free status of churches, and put the proceeds toward public financing of campaigns. At least then we'd get to see whom the Scientologists endorse.