This weekend I noticed an article about Michele Bachman wherein she was accused of being a religious crackpot for believing that the Pope was the Antichrist. Apparently this was not the first time the accusation had been made because Michele Bachman had denied the charge.
This is a seismic shift in US politics. The nation was founded as part of the British empire, who stood firmly against Catholics, sending many priests to their death because they would not swear an oath declaring the King of England to be the head of the Church. Our founding fathers added opposing the King of England to opposing the Catholics. Catholics were barred from politics for a long time in the US. This sentiment continued in the us among the Nativist Party and the Know Nothings. It continued into the living history of the US.
When John F. Kennedy ran for president a big deal was made about him being Catholic and it was not a favorable thing. Much of the nation was genuinely worried about a Catholic taking control of our nation.
Fast forward to the present day. Now its not the allegation that someone is catholic that damages. Rather it is the allegation that someone thinks the Pope is the Antichrist that is a political threat.
This belief was the basis of the so called “Reformation”. It was the basis for Lutheranism and the various Reform movements. Likewise most of the religions spawned in the US over the last 200 years also were steeped in this belief.
Michele Bachman, as a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod member, did in fact formally confess this by virtue of her membership. They formally declare it when they subscribe to the Book of Concord and also in seperate doctrinal statements. The LCMS Lutherans in this country both by affirming belief in the Book of Concord and in their own doctrinal statements. The only Lutherans in the US to not formally declare this is the ECLA, decidedly outside the beliefs of Michele Bachman.
The thing that is startling to me is that the nation has advanced to a point where it is more politically dangerous to be declared against catholics than it is to be accused of being catholic. That change is a good thing.