The new darling of the religious right, Rep. Michele Bachman, has now left the Lutheran church she attended for over a decade.
Bachmann's move appears to be politically motivated due to the timing of her departure from her church. Ms. Bachmann quit her church one week after announcing that she was running for president. Prior to Bachmann's departure from her church, she had been receiving increased questioning on a controversial doctrine of her church which states that the pope is the anti-christ. This doctrine is, understandably, offensive to many Catholics. And Catholics make up a major voting block of the religious right, a group Ms. Bachmann hopes to win over in her presidential campaign.
Some questions come to my mind after reading this new development from Ms. Bachmann. Can someone become the favorite candidate of the religious right when that candidate just left their own church? One would assume that the religious right prefers someone how is a religious and church-going person.
Another question: The timing of her departure from her church also sends a message that she quit her church for political aspirations. Will the religious right accept Bachmann, or any candidate for that matter, who quits their church for political gain?
Other candidates have downplayed their religious affiliations recently in order to win approval from a skeptical public. Jon Huntsman, when asked about his Mormonism, said "Well, I am not a very religious person," and " I believe in truth from many religions." Newt Gingrich joined the Catholic church not too long ago for reasons we can only speculate.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has not backed away from his religion despite undergoing extensive criticism. Even to the point of delivering a major address during his last campaign about his religious affiliation. Romney's refusal to back away from his religion stands in stark contrast to many of his rivals for the Republican nomination.
A troubling question emerges as we read about the many candidates who seem to be playing games with their spiritual and religious convictions. Will the religious right notice or care if a candidate leaves something that should be sacred to them in order to win approval from the public? Will backing away or quitting one's religion actually be a benefit? Or will the American public appreciate a candidate who adhere's to their religious conviction even when it is not particularly popular to do so?