I would like to a look at an excerpt of an interview I saw recently of Michele Bachmann. David Gregory is the interviewer and the Show is “Meet the Press.” What I want to examine is Mr. Gregory’s displayed attitude to the Christian Faith and how it reflects an increasingly negative assessment of what is often called “Biblical Christianity.” The assessment is clearly and thoroughly negative, which is not surprising these days. Perhaps I should rejoice, for the Church, to be faithful, will often be hated and considered a sign of contradiction. But another part of me says we ought also to be clear to point to and uncover the growing hostility to the traditional Catholic and Christian faith, lest a perfect storm take aim on us. It is that vein that I raise some of the concerns expressed here.

The general tone of Mr Gregory’s questions to Mrs. Bachmann regarding her faith is, You don’t really believe all that backward biblical stuff do you?….You don’t really take all that stuff too seriously do you?……You don’t really mean to tell me you’d ask God for advice and then do what he told you, do you?….You wouldn’t actually try to apply your (backward) faith to actual, and real decisions you’d make in office, would you?….And by the way, aren’t you Christians really a bigoted crowd when it comes down to it? Like any professional interviewer he uses a “pleasant tone” bu the upshot of his remarks is that the historical Judeo-Christian view is indefensible.

Let’s take a look at the transcript of the interview. As usual, the original text is in bold, black italics and my own remarks are in plain red text.

Disclaimer: I am not indicating, by my remarks support or lack of support for Michele Bachmann as a candidate. I am honestly undecided about the 2012 Presidential election.

MR. GREGORY: From the economy, I want to move on to another topic that’s deeply meaningful and important to you, and that’s your faith in God. This is something that not only motivates you as a person, inspires you as you try to live a virtuous life, but it’s also been very important to your political identity as well. OK, fair enough, if she chooses to make it part of her political identity it’s fair game for the press to question her on it.

MR. GREGORY: And I want to ask you about, not only the role God plays in, in your life but to what extent he’s a motivator for decisions that you make. One example that’s gotten some attention is some remarks you made back in 2006 about your career path, which you’ve talked about here, and I want to play a brief clip of those remarks.

(Audiotape, October 14, 2006)

REP. BACHMANN: My husband said, “Now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law.” Tax law! I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says, “Be submissive, wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.”

(End audiotape)

MR. GREGORY: Is that your view for women in America? Is that your vision for them? -

Translation- “You can’t really be serious about advocating this backward Biblical principle!”

Well actually, Mr Gregory, this Biblical teaching appears in a significant number of  passages of the New Testament. You may not agree with it, but listen to your tone. You could have asked more neutrally, “How do you think most women in America will understand or interpret your embracing of this?” or perhaps, “Would you like to clarify or distinguish your remarks?” or yet again, “How do you understand the concept of submission?”

What Mr. Gregory does not seem to understand is that many Christians actually believe there is a place for this principle in marriage, and many pastors (including this one) actually teach this. To be sure, the concept of submission is balanced with the command that the husband love his wife as Christ loves the Church. But this is an ancient Christian teaching that deserves more respect than Mr. Gregory shows.

I wonder too, though many interpretations of Islam contain far more restrictive notions for women than any Christian view, if Mr. Gregory or any reporter would question a Muslim with the kind of disdain he shows here to the Christian faith? You decide.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I–during the debate I was asked a question about this, and my response was is that submission, that word, means respect. It means that I respect my husband and he respects me.

MR. GREGORY: Right. Congresswoman, I didn’t even have to check with my wife and I know those two things aren’t, aren’t equal.

REP. BACHMANN: What’s that?

MR. GREGORY: Submission and respect.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, in our house it is.

Actually I think I agree with Mr Gregory here, though certainly not his “gotcha” tone. Mrs Bachmann is, equivocating and watering down the text more than a bit. (I want  to devote more time to this “unpopular teaching” on marriage tomorrow on the blog).

That said, I understand Mrs Bachmann’s “predicament,” in that he has her in a kind of “gotcha” moment, where he tries to make her (and traditional Christians) look absurd and foolish. There is little time on live TV to do the kind of work necessary to properly explain these sorts of biblical teachings. She obviously wants to get on to “safer” issues.

And frankly, though many of us Christians want our favorite politicians to be our heroes when it comes to faith, we have to remember that they are not theologians and certainly not martyrs. With rare exceptions, like St. Thomas More, politicians just aren’t the sort to take a lot of heat for the faith.

REP. BACHMANN: We’ve been married almost 33 years and I have a great deal of respect for my husband. He’s a wonderful, wonderful man and a great father to our children. And he’s also filled with good advice. He…

MR. GREGORY: But so his word goes?

REP. BACHMANN: –pardon?

MR. GREGORY: His word goes?

OK, he’s calling the question and wants clarification, But again notice the tone: “You can’t be seriously be suggesting that a husband actually has headship are you?”

REP. BACHMANN: Well, both of our words go. We respect each other. We have a mutual partnership in our marriage, and that’s the only way that we could accomplish what we’ve done in life is to be a good team. We’re a good team together.

A disappointing answer, to be sure. In effect she is setting aside the teaching when she says, “Well, both of our words go.” If both go, neither go, there is just impasse.

The fact is, in any family, organization, Church, or government, there has to be headship. Someone has to be available, to whom all look and agree, that his answer is the final one to which all the members are bound. In most matters,  consensus can be built, and this is what Mrs. Bachmann seems to refer to in the second half of her answer. But, there are just times when disagreements cannot be overcome, and a final authority is needed to make a decision binding on all. Without this, there is simply endless division and a battle of wills.

The Protestants jettisoned the Pope and they have had endless divisions ever since. For, if no one is Pope, everyone is pope.

Headship is just necessary, even if one thinks it a “necessary evil,” it is still necessary. Even our bodies have a head to unite our members. An organism with two heads is a freak, and an organism with no head is dead. You just have to have a head.

And the Scriptures assign this role to the husband. More on this in tomorrow’s blog.

MR. GREGORY: To what extent does your relationship with God mean that you take cues from God for decisions that you make and that you would make as president. You’ve talked about God inspiring you to marry your husband, you know, telling you to marry your husband, to get into politics, to take certain decisions about your career, as we just talked about.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I do have faith in God, and I learned it right here in Iowa. I was born in Waterloo, Iowa, I’m heading up there to say thank you to everyone who instilled my early values in me. And that began at our church. My parents took us to church every week. We went to a Lutheran church, First Lutheran in Waterloo. And we were–they prayed with us at night, and we prayed before we prayed before we had meal time. They really instilled wonderful values in us. And I recognize that I’m not perfect and that I need God in my life, and that’s really…

MR. GREGORY: God has guided your decisions in life. Would God guide your decisions that you would make as president of the United States?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, as president of the United States, I would pray. I would pray and ask the Lord for guidance. That’s what presidents have done throughout history. George Washington did. Abraham Lincoln did.

MR. GREGORY: But you said that –God called me to run for Congress. God has said certain things about, you know, going to law school, about pursuing other decisions in your life. There’s a difference between God as a sense of comfort and safe harbor and inspiration, and God telling you to take a particular action.

Again, note the implied tone: “You’re not gonna, like, pray, are you?” You’re not going to ask God to guide you or influence your decisions are you? I mean really, come on! A President praying and seeking guidance from God?! Get serious woman! This is a critical job and we can’t mess around with all that superstitious stuff! OK, look, it’s OK to ask God to give you strength, but don’t suggest to me that its OK if God tells you to stand against abortion rights, or Gay Marriage. You have no business allowing your faith to influence your thinking and certainly not your choices! Not that’s just going too far!

REP. BACHMANN: All I can tell you is what my experience has been. I’m extremely grateful to have a faith in God. I, I see that God has so blessed this country. We’ve  heard that song that he’s “shed his grace” on the United States. I believe it. He’s been very good to our country. And I think that it’s important for us to seek his guidance and to pray and to listen to his voice. Imagine that!

MR. GREGORY: Would you appoint an openly atheist person to be a member of your administration, your Cabinet or even as a judge to a court?

Note the implication that a believer is likely to be a bigot, or to be unjust and exclusionary. In supposing this to be a likely scenario Mr Gregory engages in a bigotry of his own. Most Christians I know are well able to interact with non believers in hopes of building bridges. We are also able to distinguish between sacred and secular domains. Frankly with all the bad Catholics running around Congress, and more than a few on the bench, a few principled atheists might not be too bad. (I say this not with glibness, but with great sadness).  :-(

REP. BACHMANN: Well, my criteria, would be first of all, “How do you view the Constitution?” If you uphold the Constitution, if you’re competent, and if you’re–if you, if you share my views, then you can get appointed. That’s my litmus test is, do you stand for the Constitution, are you competent, and do you share my views.

MR. GREGORY: Right, But an atheist would be acceptable to you as a member of your administration?

REP. BACHMANN: That wouldn’t be a question I would ask.

MR. GREGORY: OK. I want to also ask you about your interpretation of the Bible and your feelings about gays and lesbians. You have said in recent years that opposition to same sex marriage is defining a political debate in this country. You’re opposed to it, you’d like to see a constitutional ban against it in this country. And during a speech that you gave in 2004 at an education conference, you spoke openly and in detail about gays and lesbians. And I want to play just a portion of that speech and have you react, react to it.

(Videotape, November 6, 2004)

REP. BACHMANN: It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay. It’s anything but gay. … It leads to the personal enslavement of individuals. Because if you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that’s why this is so dangerous. … We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: That is the view President Bachmann would have of gay Americans?

I will say, many evangelical Christians lack proper nuance when it comes to speaking on this matter. I think it is proper for us to be very careful and measured in describing our stance on the question of homosexual activity. We ought to avoid unnecessary hyperbole. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is more nuanced and careful, but clear that the homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered and homosexual activity is sinful:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (CCC # 2357-2359)

All this said, Mr Gregory and surely the secular world will not accept even this more careful statement. And frankly it isn’t that different from what Mrs. Bachmann said. Yet this is the principled Catholic stand. I wish Mrs Bachmann had been more careful and hence I cannot per se object to Mr Gregory’s followup question above. But it is clear that the ancient Judeo-Christian teaching on this matter is increasingly being called “hate,” and “judgement.” We must continue to insist that there is simply no way we can approve of Homosexual activity based on a principled and consistent reading of both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I am running for the presidency of the United States. I’m not running to be anyone’s judge. I do stand very…

MR. GREGORY: But you have judged them.

This is the typical view of the secular world: “If you disagree with what I do, you are judging me.” In a world where tolerance is one of the only virtues left, “judging” is the only sin left. The fact is, we don’t have to judge what is sinful, God has already done that, and He has every right to judge. We can but only report what God has revealed in his Word and in Natural Law.

REP. BACHMANN: I don’t judge them. I don’t judge them. I am running for presidency of the United States.

MR. GREGORY: Is that the view of gays–gay Americans that President Bachmann would have?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, my, my view on marriage is that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And that’s what I stand for. But I ascribe honor and dignity to every person no matter what their background. They have honor and they have dignity.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think that gay Americans hearing quotes like that from you would think that that’s, that’s honor and dignity coming from you about their circumstance?

REP. BACHMANN: I am not anyone’s judge…

MR. GREGORY: Right.

And so the interview continued.

I do think Mrs. Bachmann said some things in a way that were not helpful in terms of the image of the faith, but, that said, the substance of her views on the matters above, are mainstream Christian and Catholic. It is true, some among our number debate the specific details and articulation of these teachings, but they remain clear biblical teachings held by many and essential to the patrimony of our faith. They should not be consigned to freak show status by otherwise “tolerant” media types. The tone of dripping contempt articulated by Mr Gregory for things such as the headship of the husband, prayer and sought guidance from God, and the immorality of homosexual activity, are not just directed at Mrs Bachmann, they are directed at the traditional Catholic and Christian faith.

Further, and more dangerously, the traditional Catholic teaching on homosexual activity, as articulated in our Catechism, is increasingly being called “hate speech.” We ought to be very sober about these particular attacks, for soon enough, they will build to legal and social sanctions. This is already happening in places like England and Canada where clergy are being arrested and fined for articulating orthodox Catholic belief on homosexuality.

I am interested in your views, especially of Mr. Gregory’s tone and presuppositions of the Catholic and Christian faith. I might ask that you avoid comments of a purely political nature. As you know, this is not a blog about politics. It  is about the Catholic Faith and culture.

Photo Credit: Screen shot from the Meet the Press video below.


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52 Responses

  1. Jasper says:

    Republican candidates should not bother going on MSM interviews. The ‘main stream media’ is a wing of the Democrat party, they want to see republicans fail (especially conservative christian ones). I stopped watching the MSM news altogether.

  2. Nick Childers says:

    Hatred is irrational. Prayer is “a mouthful of reason”, according to Saint Thomas.

  3. John says:

    It is both the job and duty of this reporter to “qualify” a candidate. Rep. Bachmann has made some wild statements and accusations during her tenure. When she uses her faith as a reason to be elected, something that I personally think God would reject. She should be able to defend and articulate those things she believes. Understanding why you believe something is as important as believing it. The truth is Mr. Gregory as so many “journalists” are not journalists but entertainers. Honestly, I could not tell you about his personal beliefs. I can tell from this interview that he does not think much of his interviewee. However, if you reviewed the piece he did on the History channels show on Stephen Hawking’s new book and theories, you would discover he was very concerned and fair to people of faith on that program. Personally I believe the American Catholic Church has become much too ecumenical. We do not correct the teachings of outlandish evangelical groups, and in turn lose our Catholic brothers and sisters to them. The propaganda they have beset against us is incredible. Honestly, I grow weary of correcting other Christians, non-Christians, and Catholics alike about what the church teaches and what we believe. We have alined our selves with the ignorance of these people.
    My last point, is that you seem to be doing the same thing you accuse Mr. Gregory of. I know and understand your point of view, but you should take this to another level. In closing you say ” the substance of her views on the matters above, are mainstream Christian and Catholic.” I disagree. I would argue that these are not mainstream ideas in particular of homosexuality. They are church teaching, however the majority of practicing Catholics today do not have issue with homosexual coupling or civil union. The problem they have is when you call it marriage. The other truth the church must face is it’s loss of credibility to the public on sexual matters.

    • Mainstream in terms of the Catechism and what the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition expressed there say, not mainstream in terms of a popular opinion poll of Catholics that might include dissenters.

      • John says:

        But isn’t that how this Church works. The popular opinion of the “Body of Christ” has a head, however it is not a body without every other part. It follows the tradition of the church that the only two infallible statements ever made were in fact popular opinion before those statements were made. Jesus told the apostles what you bind on earth is bound in heaven and what you lose on earth is loosed in heaven. The truth is tradition changes, has changed and will continue to change due to popularity or otherwise. The Church is the human bride of Christ and will be imperfect. The biggest problem I have with this particular issue “Homosexuality” Is that it is brought up around election time for people to gain votes on both sides. This does not recognize the human dignity in these people.

        • But nothing is done except through the head. My right and left hand have dignity but they do nothing without the head. My body is not a democracy, neither is the Church. People are free to petition the Church for certain changes, but only the head, the Pope and Bishops may decide what it authentically Catholic.

          • John says:

            I feel you over extend the roll of the Pope and Bishops, it is the Spirit of God which guides them to what is authentically Catholic. I believe at times they may institute their own will on the Church. We have seen this and know this to be true in our past. Specifically in the case of the Church’s support of enslavement of indigenous peoples in South and Central America as just one example. So it can be said that the Church has been wrong in the past, and so were the people of the time. You say nothing is done except through the head, If that head is Jesus than yes.

            • Sounds like you’re inventing a new Church to me. Just out of curiosity do you think “the people” would always be right and not done the egregious things you dredge up? Is there some formal document you can cite where the pope or bishops say it is good that people are enslaved? Has the Church formally taught that enslavement of humans is good, or are you just saying we have supported it by silence. If so you’d need to include Jesus and Paul in this, for neither said a word about it. Some things were just left to later ages.

              Further, if we cannot be sure when the Spirit of God is guiding the Pope and bishops in the “roll” (I suppose you mean role), who decides? John? Isn’t John now pope? If no one is Pope everyone is pope. Sounds like a Protestant denomination you’re founding, and we know how that’s worked out. Not too pretty with everyone being pope and having their own authority.

    • TomD says:

      This is, whenever I see it, a pet peeve of mine: there is no such thing as the “American Catholic Church.” There is the Catholic Church in America, but no American Catholic Church. There may be dissidents who wish to create an American Catholic Church, however, with distinct practices and theology from the traditional Church.

      Two of the four “marks” of the Church reflect this fact . . . we are one and we are catholic . . . universal.

  4. JonW says:

    I agree that Mr. Gregory’s tone and baggage left much to be desired. That said, it would be helpful to understand more clearly where a secular mindset like that is coming from. He first specifically became tone-deaf and heavily be-baggaged in asking about the Biblical principle of marriage, then later about God “telling you to take a particular action”.

    The marriage thing is about equality, from a secularist’s perspective. Obviously, the Biblical principle of submission of the wife to the husband contradicts the secular concept of “equality”. The background to this secular dogma is that the world is an open field of acquiring, establishing and asserting power over things and people; but we can never enjoy certain powers over people because it is unjust, since the modern world is about “freedom” and individualism and “rights”. All of this makes the Church, especially in her hierarchy, an unacceptable arrangement. Not so incidentally, it also makes even the traditional concept of God as King, Father, absolute ruler, and even Creator completely unacceptable. The traditional picture of God interferes with my “rights”, “freedom” and individualism at the fundamental level. Thus I can only create my own God and use [h]im to give me “comfort”, “safe harbor” and “inspiration”.

    This speaks to his second point about God “telling you to take a particular action”. The secularist simply cannot, in principle, conceive of God as having real influence on this world in actuality; to posit such a thing would be to contradict the very view the secularist assumes about the world, that it is an opportunity for control, or death. For the Christian, it is either eternal life or eternal death. For the secularist, it is neither. We must assert control and enjoy the fruits of our labor here on earth, or die trying, the secularist thinks, since we’re all going to die anyway, and nothing happens after that. However, in order for any of us to be guaranteed a measure of pleasure in this life, we must be careful not to step on others’ toes by interfering with their sacred F.I.R. (freedoms, individualism, rights). Much of the Church’s Moral teaching directly contradicts this vision, including the secularist’s notion of “gay Americans”.

    For the secularist, the “orientation” is indistinguishable from the act. How could it not be, when it is the orientation itself which guarantees him the “right” to engage in the act, to be celebrated for doing so, to force the world to acceptance of the act and to normalize the behavior? At the moment, some secularists are suffering through cognitive dissonance about one person’s right to believe what he chooses and another person’s right to act as he chooses and to be acclaimed for doing so. But since the secularist sees belief as a choice (when it is convenient for him to do so), and sexual acts as an “orientation” which was not freely chosen (when it is convenient for him to do so), in the end the freedom to act in accordance with one’s authentic self trumps the freedom to choose among competing world views. Thus, as Msr. Pope points out, we will soon see legal sanctions brought against clergy for teaching the Catholic faith and morals. But it must be borne in mind why the secularist will see it as an unfortunate but real necessity to do this: F.I.R.

    It is only by presenting to the secular world the truth of the Gospel and the true (and uniquely radical) freedom found in God who makes us uniquely ourselves and confers on us our rights commensurate with His will that we become heirs of His Kingdom that we will move the secularist. It is only by our unique and eternally pre-ordained personal identities that we can receive God’s great and super-abundant gifts of faith, hope and love; identities constituted of our freedom and our intellect, but unquely our own by virtue of our persons, which image God’s nature. And only all this makes possible God’s imbuing us with the dignity commensurate with our destiny as adopted sons and daughters, rightful heirs of God’s Kingdom through the super-abundant grace of baptism unmeritted by us but meritted for us by His death on a cross.

    We can only ever serve, and thereby transform, the secular world by willing what God wills and by living up to our calling as His adopted and beloved children. We can only ever accomplish this by not accomplishing it, but by letting God accomplish it through us. We can only ever transform creation by being transformed by the Creator. We are most ourselves when we are not there because we have swept ourselves aside to let room for God. The image of a Christian is the image of Christ. The Church is His Body, and we only make up the Church’s members when the Church is our makeup. We can only ever reform and transform our culture to its proper Catholic heritage by becoming saints ourselves. Deny yourself, carry your cross, cultivate the virtues. Use the gifts that God has given you to do this, and remember that He will never ask of you what is impossible for you. And nothing is impossible with God, if you but ask.

  5. JonW says:

    *this should read “It is only by presenting to the secular world the truth of the Gospel and the true (and uniquely radical) freedom found in God who makes us uniquely ourselves and confers on us our rights commensurate with His will that we become heirs of His Kingdom that we will move the secularist.”

  6. Kinana says:

    Msgr Pope

    You are right. Traditional Christian/Catholic teaching is ‘hate speech’ in a militant secularised environment. To even disagree about certain behaviours means condoning any and all violent reactions. To simply be clear about moral values is to be condemning of people and hatefully intolerant. The only intolerance is towards intolerance.

    The only exception to this is the free ride given to Muslims/Islam by the main stream media where the overriding emphasis is respect for their culture and religion.

    There is time for Michele Bachmann to sharpen up her responses to the msm (after reading your blog of course!). She and all other Christian/Catholic politicians need to bear in mind that they are always speaking to a much wider audience who will sift out the snide comments and headlines that come from the msm.

    • I am mindful as I read your introductory point that the early Christians were called “atheists” because they did not worship the gods of the pagans. Further they were called cannibals on a account of the Eucharist. Hence today we are called haters because we do not burn incense at the pagan altars of this secular world and we are said to devour others because we upset their egotistical desires to fit in and have their behavior approved. We seem to really be spoiling the neo-pagan party!

  7. Matt says:

    I’m kind of surprised that Ms. Bachmann seemed caught off-guard by these questions. This seems like standard fare from today’s media and culture. She — and all of us — should be well prepared to answer these types of questions — honestly but with compassion — whether they be from reporters or casual acquaintances.

    • Yes, I agree with you. I also puzzle at how unprepared some of these professionals are. The other thing that I hesitate to say but must admit happens to me is that when I see her I must say she looks very startled as a general rule. I think part of the problem for me is that a person’s eyes make an impact on me. Mrs. Bachmann is a very attractive woman, but there’s something about her eyes that I can’t get used to. Some one suggested to me that she may be mildly cross-eyed, but I can’t help but admit that, given my difficultly of discerning her eyes, I get the impression that she has the “deer in the headlights” look. I hope I am not being too personal, but she just comes across as very uncertain to me, and I admit the problem may be my own. But for me, the eyes are very important.

  8. Jacob S says:

    Given the circumstances and the fact that she is a politician rather than an apologist I think she did all right (though I do wish she hadn’t tried to make a few things “safer” by skirting the core issue).

    The question “Do you think that gay Americans hearing quotes like that from you would think that that’s, that’s honor and dignity coming from you about their circumstance?” and that whole exchange particularly got on my nerves.

    Since when did the discussion of morality, or any other issues for that matter, denigrate to “do you think your opponents will have their feelings hurt by you telling them they’re wrong?” Not that we should ignore the feelings of those who disagree with us, but there are better ways to approach the issue, especially if you’re only going to approach it one way. He could have asked her to explain her position. Or even to explain how it was possible to hold that position without saying that gay people somehow have less dignity than others. Or any number of questions that were, ya know, like, real questions that could actually be answered. Even “a lot of gay people see these sorts of statements as personal attacks, which you say they are not. Please elaborate,” would have worked.

    But this whole “but you have judged them” approach to journalism doesn’t make much sense to me. It not only presupposes that the Christian view is wrong, but doesn’t even bother to solicit a comment on that presupposition. Not to mention that I kind of thought he was there to ask her what she did or thought, not tell her.

    • Yes, you’re right. It is a conversation stopper, not a starter. It also occurs to me, reading your comment that these sorts of interviews are very unnatural conversations, with both people talking past each other. Journalist are looking for that gotcha moment and aren’t really asking the interviewee a question, their appealing to their “base” and the same is true of the politician. I have done a little training for media interviews, and I will say that, given the hostile environment, we were train more about what “not to say” and how to pivot back to our point rather than answer the question, which may be more a rhetorical question than a real one. The who “interview process” is really an unnatural process of two people talking past eachother.

  9. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Well, one thing is clear: David Gregory is no Tim Russert. I can’t imagine Russert, who proudly wore his Catholic faith on his sleeve, using a similar tone to tackle these kinds of questions. David Gregory’s Wikipedia entry notes that he was raised Jewish, and still practices his religion. I wonder if he really believes all that stuff…?

  10. Nolan says:

    A generalization: The ‘main stream media’ is anti-Catholic. The questions asked by Mr. Gregory reflect the contempt the ‘main stream media’ has for Christians trying to live their Christian faith. Mr. Gregory is not an ignorant, uneducated, uninformed man; he is simply opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for being a Priest, Monsignor Pope. Thank you for saying, “…with all the bad Catholics running around Congress…” Your statement is understood as being a call to all ‘lost souls’ to turn to the Catholic faith. It is said a Priest marries The Church. > It can therefore be said a Priest like a – parent – experiences “great sadness” when Catholics run away from home (Our Holy Mother The Church). Thank you, Father.

    • I think you’re right, it’s not ignorance on his part, it’s opposition plain and simple. He has a right to oppose us, but I wonder if he really thinks he’s appealing to his audience of building his base in the way he speaks? I continue to be amazed at how the MSM alienates large numbers of people, continues to lose viewers and still doesn’t change.

      • Nolan says:

        You’re the Priest, Monsignor. I can only speak for myself (I do have an almost medieval Catholic outlook towards the diabolical).

        The ‘main stream news’, Hollywood, colleges, and most people in the ‘ruling class’ are working to destroy the Christian heritage of the USA. This group of ‘elites’ are making enormous sums of money by attacking Christianity both subtly and overtly. The ‘main stream media’ is losing audience. If the ‘media’ presented a product that also appealed to a Christian audience, the people in the media would make more money.

        My personal conclusion shared by many: The ‘main stream media’ people are not solely concerned with earning a living but also exhibit a desire to destroy Christianity. The attacks on Christianity & Christians is so persistent – the attacks have to be diabolical.

        Thank you for being a Priest. Since the beginning all Priests have been missionaries – praying The Mass for the devout laity + the world – working at getting all of us to Heaven.

  11. Nguyen Thuong Minh says:

    Epistle 229
    My some thoughts about “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope commented on an interview between Mr. Gregory, a journalist, and Mrs. Bachmann, a Republican candidate for US presidency in 2012 election.
    Basically, Msgr. Charles Pope supported Mrs. Bachmann, though Father said he is a neutral commentator.
    When Father commented on the interview, essentially Father intervened into a political domain.
    But I quite agree with Msgr. Charles Pope on the comment.
    Secondly, now permit me to add some matters to relate to the homily hereafter:
    Relation between State and Catholic Religion is a large problem in both Gospel and Vietnam from old days to this day.
    In Gospel of Matthew, Lord Jesus was chased with intent to kill by King Herod (Matthew 2: 1-12), and finally, Lord Jesus also was crucified by Governor Pilate (Matthew 27:11-65).
    As Catholics, we have known that Lord Jesus wasn’t a politician or King of Israel, but Lord Jesus also was killed by State officials.
    Therefore, when I decided to become a Catholic, a disciple of Lord Jesus, I knew that I can be imprisoned by Vietnamese government.
    But if I wasn’t imprisoned by Vietnamese government, then there is a liberty of conscience in Vietnam.
    In my opinion, in Vietnam today has a freedom of religion and liberty of speech.
    I am a witness./.

  12. Jeanne says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on this Msgr. Pope. David Gregory’s tone throughout the entire interview was rather condescending. I’m sure he would have been downright reverent if Rep. Bachmann had expressed views from any other faith tradition.

    “I wonder too, though many interpretations of Islam contain far more restrictive notions for women than any Christian view, if Mr. Gregory or any reporter would question a Muslim with the kind of disdain he shows here to the Christian faith? You decide. “

  13. BHG says:

    This kind of questioning is so predictable–and not just for politicians–that every Christian needs a well formulated, brief answer. Its a bit like when Protestants say to Catholics, “You guys worship Mary!” I am astounded when the Catholic has no ready answer–it’s not like we haven’t heard the question before! So here’s my set of (slightly tongue in cheek, half pugilistic) quick answers to tough questions, each of which should be either preceded or followed by the statement that the speaker is happy to discuss it at length later:

    “You Catholics worship Mary.” “No, we don’t. Period.”

    “So you think the man should be the head of the house?” “It doesn’t matter so much what I think. It appears that God prefers it that way and he gave the husband the harder job–to be the leader in such a way that he gives everything of himself to his wife and family. I’m okay with that and I resent your attempt to make this sound like some sort of terrible totalitarian set-up. Someone needs to be the “dad” in a family and take responsibility for the final say; without that there’s chaos. In our house, the dad, that’s my husband.”

    “I take it you think homosexuals are deviants.” “I think homosexuals, like all of us, are God’s children, whom we should love, respect and support. I also believe that every man or woman still drawing breath sins in some way against God’s will. And I believe it is the job of Christians to help support each other in trying to learn how to live a life more in keeping with the life we were designed to live and to ask the same of them for us. And I am not going to let you put words in my mouth. If you want to discuss this further, let’s set aside an hour for an honest talk, not an ambush.”

    So you think it’s all right to judge homosexuals.” “No. I don’t judge people. I do judge behavior: it’s wrong to steal, it’s wrong to murder, it’s right to give charity, it’s right to help your neighbor. I do follow God’s laws in deciding what behaviors and actions to support and which to avoid. What do you use?”

    “You aren’t going to let God help you make decisions if you are elected president are you?” “Yes I am. So did Lincoln, Washington,all the others. If you aren’t comfortable with a president who understands the gravity of the office and humbly seeks divine assistance in carrying out the duties of the presidency, don’t vote for me.”

    “Do you mean to tell me you won’t offer a pinch of incense to Caesar? Don’t you believe in separation of church and state?” “No, I will not offer a pinch of snuff to Caesar. Don’t you believe in freedom of religion?”

    OK, I know I am dreaming, but really! Trying to dance around the question and offer a complete but innocuous answer is impossible and probably not productive. Better to be elected or not for who and what you are. And for heaven’s sake, stop accepting the premises they present in the questions! At least take time to redefine them on the spot. There is little to lose by being blunt; hard case secularists will never support Bachman or any other professed Christian. But if we say clearly what we really mean in the heart of our hearts, at least they can begin to hear it. And if we refuse to be either angry or apologetic, perhaps they will begin to hear a little of what we have to say. And even if it is only the interviewer and camera crew who hear (I am well aware that much ends up edited out) perhaps that is all that is needed.

    • These are excellent! Thanks.

      • Jon White says:

        These ARE excellent, but as someone already said, politicians are not professional apologists. In this day and age politicians on-camera have to be extra careful not to unintentionally provide their enemies with a sound byte or video clip able to be used repeatedly ad-nauseum against them.

  14. teo matteo says:

    I think that she did better than i expected. But then that says something about what I expected. I wish that a person in her position would make the interviewer explain what he means by: “…. judged them.” I think that that idea needs to be clarified every time it is used in a question/comment. “In what way have I judged them?’ “what do you mean by judgement in this statement I made?’ Something along those lines.
    Thank you Monsignor for this piece. It does interest me inspite of the fact that i’m trying to stay clear of politics at this point.

  15. Larry says:

    Again I totally agree with you on this. I stopped watching meet the press when Gregory took over. He seem totally anti christian and all agenda driven.

    • I will say I don’t watch Meet the Press at all, you might say I am a little busy on Sunday morning :-) . But I ran across this video looking for something else and was quite amazed at the tone, particularly as you how anti-Christian it was.

  16. Caroline Walker says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post, Monsignor Pope. I saw this interview on Sunday morning, and it’s been eating at me ever since…thank you for calling this what it is — open season on biblical Christianity.
    I would love to see Gregory apply the same probing instict to those secular enthusiasts running for office…”Mr. President, your mandate that health care reform include free conceptives and abortions will force millions of Christianist-Americans to choose between lawful compliance with the state and violating the tenets of their faith. As a matter of fact, you have used your tenure to advance a number of goals consistent with the Humanist Manifesto — funding embryonic stem cell research, redefining marriage, homosexual awareness programs for public schools, taxpayer funded abortion…Sir, these developments contradict the concept of Natural Law that has been universally affirmed for thousands of years, yet you label your opponents as “extremists…”

    • Well said. We who believe are often accused of letting religion into politics, how dare we. But the fact is, atheism is a religious stance, humanism also a religious point of view. To say there is no God, or that he is not important, or that man is all that matters, all of these are religious points of view. To simply leave religion at the door is not possible in the human condition and we who have traditional religious views ought not be singled out.

  17. Steve C says:

    Full disclosure I’m a big Dr Ron Paul fan & his stance on ‘why is the gov’t even involved in marriage it should be up to the church” is the perfect answer to that problem. The gov’t uses marriage as a money maker fund then helps promote divorce which brings in more cash for the state & they’ll help you with an lawyer for it. When I got married I was married in the Church before Christ & I could care less about getting a license from the local office that I paid $5 for that took 3 minutes to get that is basically worthless to me. Not that I’m for letting gays marry all over the place but if it was up to just the churches maybe you’d see less of that though many churches are having gay masses or as the protest-ants are promoting gays in their heirarchy. Its just getting back to morals & having virtues again. Moral issues should never be in a voting decision & gov’t is the reason we are in these problems by legalizing immoral activity from contraception, pornography, abortion, sodomy, etc. Now they are pushing it in the classroom to kids & that bogus stuff of ‘there are no sexes we are all equal’. I really hate it when people use that whole ‘you’re judging’ line. The dictatorship of moral relativism’s favorite line.

  18. Prophet says:

    I was very saddened by Ms Bachmann evasion of’ some’ questions concerning our ” Christian beliefs” concerning homosexuals and the guideance God gives etc.

    Have Catholics replaced homsexuals in the “closet of Fear”

  19. elcid says:

    I would think that Bachmann should have expected these types of questions from the secular media, this is their ammo…she should have been better prepared to answer these questions, especially the gay questions base on a natural law argument or in the sense that Caroline Walker articulated in this post, bottom line as Christians we need to be prepared to define our dogma or others will do it for us.

  20. Richard A says:

    I can’t stand the defensive attitude when questioned about some of the aspects of our faith. She – and all candidates – should have put him on the defensive:

    1) The fundamental idea of our polity is that we have a right to life, and that we have that right from God. My administration can tolerate, at least in the abstract, the possibility that there are some living among us who don’t think there is a God, that He is not the source of such rights as all humans have, that some of us don’t have a right to life, or that the United States, or any country, is not answerable ultimately to God for how society is ordered. But such views are NOT American, and my administration is not going to be particularly respectful of such un-American attitudes. An otherwise competent atheist who will advance the just policies of my administration can possibly find work in my administration, because he is competent and will advance my just policies. His atheism he can park at the door. Because it’s un-American. Did I mention that?

    2. Believing in God, that He is the source of our human rights, and that societies are answerable to Him for how they are ordered, is NOT religion. It is an acknowledgment of obvious reality. Lutheranism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism (maybe), Hinduism – all of those are religions, because they teach and practice a particular way of understanding and worshiping the God who must obviously be the creator of the universe. The constitution prohibits a religious requirement for public office and as a sworn agent of the constitution I uphold that prohibition, and as an adult citizen of the United States I personally agree with it.

    3. All good policy decisions are accessible through right reason. If I get a specific great idea from the Holy Spirit after praying about it, what is that to you? Where does the current president get his great ideas, which have worked so well? Whether it comes from God, my cabinet, my husband, the House minority whip or even you, I will present it publicly as mine and defend it as mine. As will everyone else in my administration.

    4. It is evident, just from the way Grey’s Anatomy names some organ systems in the human body, that sodomy deviates from the design of the human body, besides being attended by any number of pathologies and being generally disgusting. It may be legitimately debated whether that activity should be treated as a felony, which it has been in most states until very recently and no one on this planet thought the United States was not a free nation because of that.

    5. Are you against the idea of submission generally, of the principle of women submitting to men generally (which would be a significant misreading of Christian teaching, which is why I don’t believe in it, but I bet you think I do), or because wives in general should not submit to their husbands, or because you think that’s a recipe for bad decisions being made?

    Ignore the response, which will be irrelevant and trite, and if not that, diabolical.

    My marriage is not about me, or my husband, or even mainly about my husband and me. It’s about Christ and His church, which you don’t even believe in, so again, what is it to you?

    Those are my thoughts on the subjects presented above. I wish more Christians running for public office would feel free to go on the offensive.

  21. Molly says:

    I agree that the mainstream media is becoming more hostile to Christians. But the idea that a woman’s husband should mandate what degree she should pursue is a far-out interpretation of the concept of “submission” in marriage. It invites ridicule. Although we may share a faith in Christ, there are many positions of Protestant fundamentalists that I feel no obligation to defend.

  22. Janet says:

    Here is a timely piece by our beloved Archbishop Chaput, in which he makes the case that we have to be willing to make the sacrifice to bring our faith into the public arena. A very good read!

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/08/3686

  23. John says:

    Those interviewed by a “host” should be prepared to respond to inappropriate manners and questions. It is a measure of their sharpness that they control abusive interviewers, put them “in their place” no matter how subtle or premeditated the attack. Bachmann, with a few acute observations of Gregory’s tone, etc. might have turned Gregory into the interviewee. His ways are well known. Viewers would have appreciated her more.

  24. Kerstin says:

    Concerning marriage, one of your comments dissapoint. Rep. Bachman is completely correct when she says “both of our words go.” Meaning, in a functioning marriage you have a division of labor, so to speak, each partner brings certain strengths and qualities that makes the whole. The decisions you make are made as a team. There is no headship of one over the other. You are a unit. I know. I’ve been in a very happy marriage for 27 years. We each contribute our share, and we decide together, and we defer to the other when the other has the more credible judgment or ability. It is mutual. The end result is, we both, and our family, profit. Again, there is no headship! Headship of one over the other is inconceivable in a functioning and happy marriage. In marriage, we are asked to give 100%, which means each of us receives 100%. Also, how can you fully acknowledge and respect the image of God in the other when one only through the accident of birth and sex is supposed to be the head? That is completely irrational. Sex only defines distinct roles roles in procreation and physiological aptitudes, not cognitive ability. Both man and woman are made in the image of God, that makes them co-equal. Does it get messy sometimes? Absolutely! You overcome that with love.
    Frankly, when it comes to marriage I truly wish marriage was permissible for all priests, not just for converts. This life experience is where priests, and other life-long religious, cannot be of complete help, because they don’t have first hand experience of what it looks like from the inside, and the myriad of issues and how they interplay. Given that marriage is a sacrament and instituted by God, the Church’s teachings and interpretations we’re supposed to adhere to were mostly written down by a distinct minority who chose celibacy – and must fall short by default. There will always be a measure of credibility that is missing. I dearly wish it wasn’t so, but it is.
    I am reminded of the fact that in the Bible slaves are an everyday fact of life, but slavery is incompatible with Christian teaching, and that is why in the history of the West Christians have fought agains it and eliminated it more than once. And dare I say, the “headship” of man over woman in marriage is just as incompatible.

    • Well, the issue of headship comes into play when when there are irresolvable differences that need a final arbiter. Without this, there is simply power struggle. Scripture says “the two become one flesh” but a body does not have two heads. The members may have different functions, as you say, but there still must be one head. I will say, in my parents marriage there was a division labor, as your say. My Father was no dummy, he knew my mother was just smarter about certain things than he, and he deferred to her judgment. But when it came to big things like “are we gonna move or stay put” there still had to be headship in my family. Suppose my parents disagreed about this (I don’t recall they did) but suppose. How is such a difficulty to be resolved? What if no consensus can be reached easily? Someone’s word has to be the final one. In such cases headship seems essential. Otherwise there is divorce or impasse.

      As far as marriage for priests and this issue or marriage, I want to say I am defending scripture here, not proposing my own view, it is not my experience that matters, just God’s revelation applied. The question of credibility is not about me, nothing is about me, it is all about God and what he says. Hence your final sentence is a dispute you have with God (who said it) not me. I do not matter.

      By the way I just wrote another post, explaining this scripture here: http://blog.adw.org/2011/08/an-unpopular-teaching-on-marriage-in-the-light-of-recent-debtes-and-interviews/

      • Mark says:

        First, what is marriage? It is a participation in the life of the Trinity. Anyone, priest, religious, and lay people can participate in marriage each in their own way. A priest gives themselves totally and completely en persona Christi to the bride of Christ – the church. It is a marriage. Just like in a marriage between a man and a woman. The priest has the final say. Are they more important than the rest of the church – no. Their role is different. Yet, they have final say if it is needed to be expressed. So, it is true in a marriage of a man and a woman. The male’s role is the head of the house. The head. Not the whole. There are multiple levels of this to be discussed. It affects the spirituality of the family on a many levels. The head leads the family to heaven. The head is willing to lay their life down for their spouse, their children in ways that the wife cannot. The head is responsible for protecting the family – physically, spiritually, etc. The male’s role model is Christ on the cross. Willing to lay down to last drop of blood.

        Second, Catholics and Christians who are running for national office should stay off of these national shows. These people are bigots against the church. You see it in their coverage of the sexual abuse crisis. 50% of the problems in the church are done by lay people. There are similar crises happening in every organization that services children. Yet, priests are the number one story. David Gregory is doing to her what they did to Sarah Palin. It is not only sexist but bigoted against anyone who is publicly trying to live their life for God and running for national office.

  25. Bob says:

    I believe that you bring up a key difference between Catholic and Evangelical arguments against homosexuality and the gay lifestyle. Evangelicals correctly point to scripture, but when arguing with essentially an atheisitc, secular, or non-Christian media, they are going to ignore or “blow-off” the scriptural references as being impertinent. While the Catholic argument does and can go to scripture, more convincingly to the non-Christian/secularist/atheis is the Catholic appeal to Natural Law. The Catechism touches this nicely by using the word “disordered.” Where there is an intended “order” to things in nature, something that goes against its natural purpose or intent (natural intent being the complimentariness of the female/male bodies, the natural purpose and intent of the sexual act being geared towards procreation, etc.) can then be described as “disordered.” One can reason that the natural “order” or intention of an eyeball is towards sight, not trying to pick apples off of a tree (a “disorder” for the eye). The natural order of a hand and its fingers is to grasp and pick an apple off of a tree, not to refract or reflect light to neural transmitters in the brain giving us sight like an eye.

  26. Bethanie Ryan says:

    I feel very sorry for her. I agree that Mr. Gregory is very much out of line. Between this and the Newsweek cover that had the horrible picture of her, I wonder if there isn’t a little sexism going on here as well as anti-Christianity.

  27. Donna says:

    I watched the entire Bachmann interview and read the transcript. Then I found a transcript of a 2008 MTP interview with the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama. While the MTP interviewer was hard on Obama regarding the Jeremiah Wright controversy, he was respectful, did not interrupt the candidate, and permitted him full responses on a full range of questions. This was not afforded Michele Bachmann who met a plainly belligerent David Gregory not necessarily interested in meeting the full views of the candidate in stormy national and international times, but in badgering her on faith issues. It was a disgusting sight, but any truly Christian Republican had better get used to it; it’s lamestream media open season on them.

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