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Posted at 12:29 PM ET, 07/14/2011

Does Michele Bachmann have a `Reverend Wright’ problem?

Joshua Green of The Atlantic is reporting that Rep. Michelle Bachmann has long belonged to a church that, well, has some odd views about the Catholic Church:

Michele Bachmann is practically synonymous with political controversy, and if the 2008 presidential election is any guide, the conservative Lutheran church she belonged to for many years is likely to add another chapter due to the nature of its beliefs--such as its assertion, explained and footnoted on this website, that the Roman Catholic Pope is the Antichrist.

The short, obvious response to the idea that this might hurt Bachmann’s presidential aspirations is, in a few words, “Reverend Jeremiah Wright.”

After all, President Barack Obama’s ties to Reverend Wright and his church didn’t hurt his presidential campaign nearly as much as expected — ahe went on to win. Even in 2008, the idea that Obama was a covert black radical hiding behind a moderate liberal façade seemed far fetched. There was little connection between Wright’s views and Obama’s actual policy agenda.

This could, however, create problems for Bachmann. After all, unlike Obama, Bachmann has placed her religious views front and center in the campaign, most recently by signing onto a “pledge” issued by a group of social conservatives in Iowa affirming a number of paternalistic policy positions. In signing the pledge, Bachmann was promising to fight marriage equality, pornography, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and even the presence of women in the Armed Forces. Bachmann’s religious views, unlike Obama’s, are easily connectable to a definable policy agenda. So her religious views will be far more relevant than Obama’s — and many of the policy positions she’s adopted as a result aren’t likely to be popular outside of the GOP base.

George W. Bush frequently credited Karl Rove’s outreach to Catholics as key to his ascension to the White House. Has Bachmann — who left her former church last year and disavowed its views on Catholicism — damaged herself with this key segment of the electorate? That’s anybody's guess. But generally speaking, some of her religiously informed political views will be a major liability among the broader electorate, should she win the nomination, and may even discourage Republicans who want to win the White House from voting for her. The more stories like this one expose the extent to which some of Bachmann’s religious views smack of bigotry, the worse her chances will get.

Editors note from Greg Sargent: The original headline on this post was mine, and it was an inappropriate overreach. I’ve replaced it with a new one.

By Adam Serwer  |  12:29 PM ET, 07/14/2011

 
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