Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) told supporters God was sending a message to Washington politicians through the earthquake and hurricane that pummeled the East Coast this weekend, according to a report in the St. Petersburg Times. The hurricane killed more than 26 people, including at least two children.
While giving a speech about the merits of small government and tea party activism, Bachmann said:
I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
Bachmann’s press secretary said that Bachmann was “saying it in jest” to prove a point.
On Monday the congresswoman insisted that she was joking, The Hill reported. “Of course I was being humorous when I said that. It would be absurd to think it was anything else,” Bachmann said, adding: “I am a person who loves humor. I have a great sense of humor.”
The three-term congresswoman’s comments, joking or not, moved into ”risky territory,” writes Politico. This may be especially true for a candidate who, in the two months since she announced her candidacy, has faced many questions about her religious worldview.
Bachmann was asked during an August debate about whether or not she would ‘submit’ to her husband’s authority in her potential role as president. (She answered that, in her marriage, submission “means respect.”) Her husband’s Christian counseling center has also been criticized for advancing controversial “reparative therapies” for homosexuality.
Bachmann's hurricane-earthquake comment is “not exactly a mainstream meteorological view,” Politico wrote. But a Public Religion Research institute/ Religion News Service poll from earlier this year found that nearly 40 percent of Americans “believe that earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters are a sign from God.”
Note: This post has been updated.
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Under God: Glenn Beck: Hurricane a ‘blessing’
Figuring Faith: Why religion will matter in 2012
Lisa Miller: Be not afraid of evangelicals