As Rep. Michele Bachmann faces scrutiny for ties with a Lutheran church that believes the Pope is the anti-Christ, Catholic League president Bill Donohue said the congresswoman herself isn't anti-Catholic.
Although it is “regrettable that there are still strains of anti-Catholicism in some Protestant circles,” Donohue said, “we find no evidence of any bigotry on the part of Rep. Michele Bachmann.”
Rep. Bachmann made headlines this week when The Atlantic linked the presidential candidate with the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota.
The church community belongs to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod – founded in 1850 with around 400,000 members today – which tightly adheres to the teachings of 16th century Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther.
The synod's “Doctrinal Statement on the Antichrist” claims that the Bible has “revealed” that the “Roman Papacy” is the anti-Christ.
According to the magazine, Rep. Bachmann was a longtime member of the church and formally requested a release of her membership over the last year.
Although Donohue expressed regret over the church's doctrinal statement, he said that Rep. Bachmann has “condemned anti-Catholicism” and shown no signs discrimination against Catholics in her political career.
He also referenced President Obama's run in with controversy during his 2008 campaign over his affiliation with Rev. Jeremiah Wright – a Chicago pastor known for making extremist statements.
“Just as President Barack Obama is not responsible for the views of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rep. Bachmann must be judged on the basis of her own record,” Donohue said.
The Catholic League president added, however, that the recent news presents an opportunity for dialogue with the presidential candidate on the issue.
It is “not inappropriate,” he said, “to ask some pointed questions of Rep. Bachmann and her religion’s tenets.”