Apparently, this is a big discussion now online. See, e.g., Michele Bachmann Should Not 'Get a Pass' on Past Membership in Anti-Catholic Church, by Keith A. Fournier; posted on 14 July 2011 at Catholic Online. Here is my initial response:
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I don't see this as any big deal at all. Almost all Protestants have official anti-Catholicism in their background, because it was so central to the so-called "Reformation." It doesn't follow that individuals subscribe to it. I used to fellowship and worship with many anti-Catholics in the churches I used to attend as a Protestant. I never was anti-Catholic, myself, and my association with them didn't prove otherwise.
When I met my wife in a youth group [Assemblies of God] in Nov. 1982, I defended her from aggressive folks in the group who wanted to make an issue out of her being Catholic.
The official Lutheran confessions describe the Mass as "Baal-worship" (as I have noted in the past). Yet very few Lutherans today would hold to that. The large group of Missouri Synod Lutherans didn't sign on to the ecumenical agreements, either. They were signed by the same Lutherans who are officially pro-abortion (which the conservative Lutheran denominations are not).
I'm infinitely more concerned about compromised Catholics like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi than I am about obscure statements in confessions like these. It tells me next to nothing about what Bachmann herself believes. Anyone can look that up . . .
Certainly many Baptists in the South of the US are anti-Catholics. Does it follow that we deem Presidents Carter and Clinton to both be anti-Catholics? It's guilt-by-association. The media is desperate to slander her in any way they can, since she is the Most Hated Person in America now: a great honor, to be sure.
I like what Catholic writer Matt C. Abbot wrote:
I love it when liberals who normally don't care a wit about Catholicism suddenly voice concern about a conservative politician's alleged anti-Catholicism — even if their concern is somewhat tongue-in-cheek or just a political ploy. Never mind all the abortion- and unnatural vice-supporting "Catholic" politicians out there; we practicing Catholics should really be concerned about the likes of Bachmann and Sarah Palin. (I addressed Palin's alleged anti-Catholicism in my Dec. 7, 2010 column.)
Interestingly, Bachmann gave a talk last year at a conference organized by the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation. I didn't attend the conference, but I think it's safe to say that had she said anything even remotely anti-Catholic, the CMF wouldn't have made the audio CD of her talk available for purchase.
I asked William A. Borst, Ph.D., Catholic author and feature editor to the CMF, to comment on the Salon article. Dr. Borst replied in an email (slightly edited):
'Nowhere in the article did I find any substantive quote from Rep. Bachmann. I think it is shoddy journalism to try to create a paper trail of quotes from second-, third- and fourth-hand sources and attribute belief to their target by mere association. What may appear as exhaustive research on the surface often is nothing more than a writer desperately grasping for straws.
'To compare her [associations] to Barack Obama's relationship with the Rev. Wright is specious reasoning at best. Bachmann seems like a 'seeker' who is still searching for the religious truth. Obama spent 20 years listening to Wright's racialist rants and even had his kids baptized by this poor excuse of a minister. There is no comparison, unless apples can be confused with asparagus. So we really know even less about her views than we did before reading the article. If they give Pulitzers for misdirection, obfuscation and innuendo, Alex Pareene would be a strong contender.'
My friend Lisa Graas defended Bachmann as well, and notes a direct disavowal of anti-Catholicism from Rep. Bachmann herself. If this continues, I'll be following it and providing more information as I find it.
Bill Donohue, of The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, commented in that group's press release:
The Catholic League finds it regrettable that there are still strains of anti-Catholicism in some Protestant circles, but we find no evidence of any bigotry on the part of Rep. Michele Bachmann. Indeed, she has condemned anti-Catholicism. 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.
However, just as Sen. John McCain had to answer questions about his affiliation with Pastor John Hagee (who quickly cleared his record), and Sen. Barack Obama had to answer questions about his affiliation with Rev. Wright, it is not inappropriate to ask some pointed questions of Rep. Bachmann and her religion’s tenets.