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For evangelicals, Bachmann ‘speaks our code’

By DANIEL BURKE
c. 2011 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour warned several hundred Christian conservatives gathered here last week (June 3-4) not to expect a “perfect candidate” to emerge from the field of Republican presidential contenders.

“There’s only been one perfect person that ever walked on this earth,” Barbour said, sounding as much like a preacher as a politician.

“And there ain’t gonna be another one in this election.”

None of the half-dozen or so rivals for the GOP nomination who addressed the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference walked on water, of course. But for many of the fiscal and social conservatives assembled by Ralph Reed’s new group, one candidate seemed to rise above the rest.

“I am here to support Michele Bachmann,” said Phil Dacosta, a 42-year-old Southern Baptist from Atlanta. “I don’t care about anyone else.”

Dacosta, wearing a blue Huck PAC T-shirt, called himself heartbroken that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won’t run for president this year. As Huckabee’s campaign coordinator in Georgia, Dacosta helped the former governor win his state’s GOP primary in 2008, one of eight states Huckabee took that year with strong support from conservative Christians.

But with Huckabee out, Dacosta said he’s confident that fellow evangelicals will turn their eyes and organizing power to Bachmann, a three-term congresswoman from Minnesota.

“She comes from us, not to us,” said Dacosta, an industrial engineer and passionate political activist. “She speaks our code, and we believe her.”

Dacosta was hardly the only Bachmann believer at the Faith & Freedom Coalition. A Tea Party favorite who is also popular among conservative Christians, the Minnesota congresswoman is expected to announce her political intentions later this month in her native state of Iowa.

The Washington gathering also signaled continued difficulty for putative front-runner Mitt Romney’s quest to engage conservative Christians.

Harold White, a 62-year-old former train conductor who lives in Marietta, Ga., said negative stories about Romney’s Mormon faith have been making the rounds on his local Tea Party listserv.

“We are moving away from Romney and Huntsman,” said White, referring to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is also Mormon. “Their Mormon beliefs are just so different from Christianity.”

Bachmann, on the other hand, seems poised to make a strong run among Christian conservatives, who comprise a quarter of the general electorate and an even greater percentage of GOP primary voters.

At an April gathering at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Bachmann won the straw poll with 23 percent of the vote, besting even Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor.

Addressing the crowd on Friday, Bachmann drew several loud ovations as she recounted her efforts to ban gay marriage in Minnesota, repeal the new health care law and defund Planned Parenthood.

She also denounced President Obama’s “shocking” policy towards Israel, and described her family’s struggle to home-school her five biological children and raise 23 more foster children.

Finally, Bachmann lowered her head and led the crowd in a two-minute prayer, including a supplication that “Father God, we want all men to come to know you.”

Asked why he attended the Washington gathering, Bruce Nave, a politically active industrial contractor from Phoenix, said, “Michele pretty much summed it up.”

“She is talking about our issues,” said Nave, 58. “Our government is getting out of control and we are not going to be silent anymore.” Nave, who is deeply tanned, said Bachmann has nicknamed him and his wife “Ken and Barbie.”

Like many at the Washington gathering, Nave described himself as both an ardent evangelical and proud Tea Party member. The Faith & Freedom Coalition, founded by veteran GOP activist Ralph Reed, represents the “perfect synergy” of the two conservative and politically active groups, Nave said.

Reed said Friday the aim of his group is to train volunteers to reach 17 million evangelical voters who were not registered or did not vote in 2008.

“We are going to teach you some basic fundamentals,” he said, “so you can go back to your states and communities not only (to) be able to execute these plays and run this system, but also execute the biggest victory ever seen in American history.”

Aileen Milton, 59, said Reed delivered a presentation earlier this year on his fledgling group to her Tea Party cohort in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community in Florida.

Wearing a button advocating for “fair taxes” in Florida, Milton said she cares deeply about issues like abortion, but is more concerned with the economy, and with defeating Obama in 2012.

“The country is moving in the wrong direction,” she said, “It is becoming socialist.”



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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Highly Christian people brought us George W. Bush, arguably the worst president ever, who got us into this economic messs and the Iraq mess and several others. They elected him because he talked their code. Why on earth, after a failure like that, would they think “talking their code” would mean a person would make a good president?

    What we all need to do is try to find the best person, no matter what religion or lack of religion. If we restrict ourselves to people of our religion we’ll almost certainly not get the best person.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Vicki

    Be very careful about voting for a person because they know the lingo and are willing to say the “right things”. The Indians were persuaded by the right code words as well as many shiny sparklies. Evaluate your prospective leaders by their abilities and their records. Bachmann may be the likeliest looking candidate, but since when has God ever EVER gone the predictable route? Can anything good come out of Galilee?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    nnmns: Well said.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jules

    If you are a Christian who proclaims to love Jesus and serve as a witness for Him, you shouldn’t have to speak in “code”. Your Christian message should be heard by all, not just by people who agree with you. Jesus never spoke in code.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment David

    Michele Bachmann is absolutely unelectable as President. Evangelicals might want to figure out that much of the country does not look on them too kindly. They see bigots who would impose their will on the masses just as some muslims would impose Sharia law on the masses in their countries. As a faith believing person, I find Bachmanns use of prayer to be manipulative and deceitful. How is that any different from the criticism that Christ had for those pharisees who prayed to be seen of men? “Hypocrites,” he called them.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    If this woman is the best that the evangelicals have to offer – they have dust in their fingers and whisps of mist before their eyes. She has no most substance than fog and her outpouring of fear is more noxious than smog. The only people who would truly rejoice at her candidacy would be comedians and editorial cartoonists.

    If the evangelicals want to be taken seriously, they need to find someone who not only speaks “their code”, but can speak to the wider country in ways that are not simply fear mongering and hateful.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment JohnnyP

    I was born and raised a Christian and Republican. I’m so disappointed that the Tea Party has seemingly taken over the discourse of our politics and party because they have made Jesus himself un-electable. Their message is completely contrary to the message of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. I’m not for big government, but I am for compassion. Compassion has left the Republican party in favor of greed and war.

    If, at the end of the day, I must choose between Christian principles and the Republican party, I think I will have to sit this one out.

    As for the religious question:
    Romney or Huntsman or anyone else could worship some amorphous nebulous blob for all I care. The US constitution says that there is no religious test for office. If they allow me to live my faith as I want and make this country a better place, then I’ll vote for them (and let them worship what they want too).

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment azdem

    If you are looking for a leader, find someone who is principled, and faithful to those principles. Then discover what those principles are, and you will be able to predict where the candidate will lead. Many principles besides religion inform a candidate. I believe that the core principles (not necessarily doctrines) of Mormonism are: The freedom of choice, the value of life, man’s potential for progress, God’s interest in and involvement in the life of every individual, including the governments that influence those lives, respect for God’s creations, personal accountability to God for one’s actions, self reliance and mutual assistance. I believe that ties to those core principles are expressed in both the Democratic and Republican platforms. If you want to know what a Mormon politician will do, you ae going to have to look at his religion and beyond it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Alan

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I cannot be a Republican.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Crystal

    As a Log Cabin Republican, If Michelle Bachman is the GOP choice for president, I will have no choice but to vote for Obama.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment John

    As an outsider I am surprised at some of the comments I read from evangelicals and Tea Partiers.
    Surely you look at a candidate’s values, their actions and their policies – then make your decision. Their particular brand of faith is only relevant to the extent it determines those factors.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment James

    Bachmann is unelectable. Romney is the only candidate that would be able to beat Obama. He appeals to conservatives, moderates, and independents. It is sad to read this.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment learning

    I am a Ron Paul leaning Republican with a lot of sympathy for conservatives. I got involved in politics because we are literally killing our children. However, Vicki is correct; they leave themselves open to manipulation by voting on some one based on language code. Many devout Catholics and people who love God, family and country remember the George Bush II debacle. I feel rooked by him and the GOP of that era. Focus on Natural law and the highest intellectuals of the conservative right to persuade Americans and give them something to vote for; not just against.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Grumpy Old Person

    negative stories about Romney’s Mormon faith have been making the rounds on his local Tea Party listserv.

    WHY am I not surprised?

    ““Their Mormon beliefs are just so different from Christianity.””

    So? Doesn’t America ‘promise’ freedom of religion to ALL of its citizens any more? There isn’t supposed to BE a religious test to hold public office in America anyway.

    How the ‘mighty’ have fallen.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment bluebuss

    why is it that republicans have to be “likeable” while democrats have to be among the smartest in the world? the republican test “i can have a beer w/that candidate”. while they have destroyed america, they’re criteria is likeability.

    these candidates bachmann, palin, newt are not fit for any office, let alone the most important office in the world.

    and as far as Christianity goes, turning your back on the old, poor, and weak like the republican agenda is not Christ like. it is time for Christians to understand that the republicans flaunting in front of them are NOT Christians – even if they quote scripture daily.

    and what more does president obama have to do to prove he is Christian? who is telling the “evangelicans” that he is muslim? that is the person lying to you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    As if Obama does not attempt the exact same nonsense, he try to woe Christians and Muslim alike with code, they all do and as for the economy Obama has not proved to be any better than Bush, he’s going after folk just like Bush did as a matter of fact we fare stretched further in military action than before.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Alice

    She is exactly what we need. A leader who chooses principle over timidity. Bachmann 2012, you have this indep;endents vote!

  • Pingback: The Beginning of a Hopefully Quiet Summer | Article VI Blog | John Schroeder

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