Because the majority of my work has to do with fighting the religious right in one way or another, the first thing that pops into my head when seeing the names Michele Bachmann and Robin Hayes is the Congressional Prayer Caucus, the prayer group founded by Congressman Randy Forbes (R-the not real part of Virginia), whose members, which include Bachmann and Hayes, typically fill the lists of co-sponsors of any legislation designed to demolish the wall of separation between church and state.
As someone who's been fighting the Christian nationalist revisionism of American history for years, I keep a close eye on the "Christian heritage" legislation introduced by members of Forbes's Prayer Caucus -- legislation typically packed with lies about history. And, since starting to work for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I've had another reason to watch this group. These are the folks who held up a defense authorization bill for weeks over language about chaplains praying in Jesus' name, and, for some reason, this group of forty-seven representatives has a disproportionate presence on the House Armed Services Committee -- roughly double their presence in the House as a whole. So, while Bachmann and Hayes might not have been familiar names to very many people before the revelation of their recent comments about which Americans are "real Americans" and which aren't, they were already quite familiar to me for these other reasons.
Robin Hayes's solution for Iraq -- "spreading the message of Jesus Christ"
Speaking at a Rotary Club meeting in his hometown of Concord, North Carolina in December 2006, Congressman Hayes pronounced that stability in Iraq ultimately depended on:
"spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. ...Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior."
Hayes's outrageous remarks, published in the Concord Standard and Mount Pleasant Times, were immediately reported on the blog BlueNC, and the story quickly spread through the blogosphere. A few days later, a spokeswoman for Hayes, although telling the Charlotte Observer she had no reason to doubt the accuracy of the quotes, added, "It's interesting how these bloggers can distort the news." Then, Dale Cline, the editor and publisher of the Concord Standard, who had been at the Rotary Club meeting, appeared on MSNBC, saying that Hayes had told him he was "talking more about spreading Christian principles than spreading Christianity itself," but that Hayes wasn't backpedalling and was probably comfortable with his initial words.
Bachmann on Global "Warmism" -- Jesus already saved the planet
"[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that."
From a speech before the Council for National Policy, delivered on the same night as Barack Obama's acceptance speech in Denver:
"Global warmism is not a scientific consensus; it is a belief system. And though it would dramatically impact 'every corner of the U.S. economy,' it was approached by the Democrat leadership as if it had been indisputably arrived at by a mathematical formula."
"The current Democrat leadership in Congress is serving the radical green religion."
Democratic Party not "normal American people"
Also from Bachmann's Council for National Policy speech:
"A Party that intentionally place Speaker Nancy Pelosi front and center before normal American people as its chairman with a nine percent approval rating is a party worthy of itself."
Obama an "anointed god?"
Naturally, because Bachmann's speech coincided with Obama's acceptance speech, she made plenty of references to the Greek column stage at Invesco Field, calling the event "a toga party at their recently erected Greek temple" and "Barack Obama's speech from Mount Olympus," culminating in this statement:
"Nor should we lay a laurel wreath on the head of an anointed god who can save us from the responsibility of paying for our own healthcare and retirement."
"Real" Americans don't like real American history
Michele Bachmann and Robin Hayes were two of the ninety-three co-sponsors of H. Res. 888, a resolution "Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as 'American Religious History Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith," introduced by Randy Forbes in December 2007. This resolution, while purporting to promote "education on America's history of religious faith," was packed with the American history lies of Forbes's buddy, pseudo-historian David Barton. It listed a total of seventy-five "Whereases," leading up to four resolves, the third of which was that the U.S. House of Representatives "rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation's public buildings and educational resources," a complete travesty, considering that most of the "history" listed in the resolution is not real! I'm not going to get into the specifics of the resolution's many historical lies here, but for those who are interested, I debunked a few dozen of them in a series of nine posts on Talk2Action between January 4 and March 11. I still had a bunch more to go, but by the middle of March I had been informed that the battle against this resolution had succeeded, and it was never going to get to the floor, so I moved on to other things.
Like many members of Randy Forbes's Congressional Prayer Caucus, Michele Bachmann has strong ties to David Barton, and recently appeared on his WallBuilders LIVE! radio show. Barton, who, in addition to his work in creating an alternate Christian history of the United States, is a former co-chair of the Republican Party of Texas, and was named one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America by Time Magazine, endorsed and campaigned for Bachmann in her 2006 House race. In his introduction of Bachmann on his radio show, Barton said that "she's really good for our side," and explained that his association with her goes back to her days in the Minnesota Senate.
"I have known this lady for a number of years. She was a state senator up there and matter of fact I worked with her on history standards up there in Minnesota and doing some history legislation and making sure that they could not censor religious references from history books, so, she's a great lady and just a real class act and just a solid, committed -- not just Christian -- but a biblical Christian..."
By his work with Bachmann on Minnesota's "history standards," Barton was referring to Bachmann's 2005 introduction of legislation to allow the use of historical documents containing religious references in the state's public schools -- legislation that was completely unnecessary given that Minnesota already had a law on the books stating that, "Districts may not censor or restrain instruction in American or Minnesota state history or heritage based on religious references in documents, writing, speeches, proclamations, or records." That law, passed in 2001, was also considered by many legislators to be unnecessary, because nothing prohibited the use of these documents at that time either. Barton had testified before Minnesota's House Education Policy Committee on the 2001 bill, and was brought in as "an historian and consultant" in 2005 when Bachmann introduced her bill.
Bachmann, defending the need for her clearly unnecessary legislation, actually cited a story spread by Fox News and religious right organizations and websites that the Declaration of Independence had been banned in a California school because it contained references to a creator, a story that, of course, was not true. The real story turned out to be that there had been a complaint against one teacher who was deliberately singling out only the religious references in historical documents in supplemental materials he was handing out to his students in order to promote religion and the notion that American was founded a Christian nation, so the school principal began reviewing his lesson plans. Needless to say, no school would ever ban the Declaration of Independence, and it's simply mind boggling how many people, apparently including Bachmann, actually believed this story.
Here's some of what Bachmann had to say during her September 1, 2008 WallBuilders LIVE! interview, conducted by Barton's co-host Rick Green.
"It's important for your listeners to know that there are strong, believing members of Congress who get it about our nations heritage and we love and appreciate David Barton. I've probably been on four of his Spiritual Heritage tours at the Capitol, and the staff knows, whenever David's going to be in town doing one, if I can get over there, I want to go because I learn something new every time I'm going through one of his tours. He's a treasure for our nation."
"We didn't get and gain this prosperity that we have in this nation -- this level of freedom -- by our own hands. This has been God's gift, and only when we submit ourselves to him -- his will -- and act in accordance with his plans will we continue to be blessed as a nation. That's why I'm so honored to be able to be there and work hand in glove with you -- with WallBuilders ministry -- to make sure that we can maintain America's freedoms, because they will evaporate very, very quickly -- it will make our heads spin how quickly these freedoms will evaporate if we don't continue to be ever ready to make sure that we preserve them."
On June 17, 2008, in a last ditch effort to save Randy Forbes's H. Res. 888, or at least put on a good show for the "real" Americans, about twenty representatives, including Michele Bachmann and Robin Hayes, spent several hours on the House floor giving speeches on "Our Rich History of Faith."
Bachmann's contribution to this litany of Christian nationalism and fake American history was about the Declaration of Independence, which she stated "is a Declaration that we are first and foremost a religious country," ending her remarks, "Today, we recommit ourselves and our country to these all-important religious foundational principles. Today, we recommit ourselves to being free." Robin Hayes actually concocted a bogus George Washington quote worthy of David Barton, claiming that Washington's "most famous acclamation was his prayer at Valley Forge," and saying this prayer was, "Bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son Jesus. Of all dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.'" What Hayes did here to create this "prayer at Valley Forge" was to take a few lines from Washington's 1796 farewell address, and attach a sentence mentioning Jesus at the beginning, a sentence which is from a prayer journal claimed by the history revisionists to have been written by Washington in the 1750s, but long ago determined to be a fake.
Robin Hayes, in addition to co-sponsoring Randy Forbes's H. Res. 888, co-sponsored H. Res. 598, a resolution "Supporting the goals of the Ten Commandments Commission and congratulating such Commission and its supporters for their key role in promoting and ensuring recognition of the Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of Western law," introduced in August 2007 by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), another member of Forbes's Prayer Caucus. That resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had 32 co-sponsors, including Prayer Caucus member Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), who some may remember as the congressman who was unable to actually name the ten commandments when asked by Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.
So what, exactly, are the goals of the Ten Commandments Commission (TCC) -- the goals that H. Res. 598 resolved to support? Well, one is to "restore the supremacy of the tenants [sic], precepts and principles contained in and established by the Ten Commandments." But, the goals of the TCC encompass quite a bit more than just promoting the ten commandments and making them the supreme law, as if that's not bad enough.
According to the organization's website:
"TCC will become Watchmen for curricula being disseminated throughout American public high schools and colleges, specifically regarding the history of the Middle East and the current conflict that is biased toward Islamic interest...."
"With secular humanists waging their attacks at home, and the looming threat from the international radical Islam - people of faith become the line of defense - this is the 'Wall of Jerusalem,' and we are the watchman God has placed there."
Among the TCC's "who's who" of Christian leaders are founding member John Hagee, advisory board members James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Rod Parsley, and ex-Judge Roy Moore. The TCC also includes in its ranks a number of prominent Jewish leaders, including its founder, Ron Wexler. In a video message, Wexler described the TCC as "a grassroots movement to make a stop to radical Islam and to bring back the word of God, the foundation to the wall of Jerusalem," and said that by getting five million people become TCC supporters they "can change that trend that is going to destroy America. You see," Wexler explained, "America is about to be destroyed by secular humanism and radical Islam."
Michele Bachmann would seem to agree: