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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Bachmann and Presidential Rapture

There is one question, or set of questions, that I want Michele Bachmann to answer in a presidential debate, but no one will ask them:

Congresswoman Bachmann, do you subscribe to the doctrine of the Rapture, which suggests that the elect will be translated miraculously into heaven while the rest remain to suffer tribulation?  

If so, assuming that you hope to be among the elect and that you live your life in accordance with how those who espouse this doctrine envision the elect, what provisions will you make for the rest of us who will not be so blessed and will remain to suffer a period of unsurpassed upheavals?  

Will you select a running mate who is unlikely in your eyes to be raptured?  

If so, can you tell us that you are selecting the best possible person to stand in for you if you are no longer able to fulfill your office?

If not, how can you pledge to serve the interests of all Americans faithfully?

The rapture differs from all other messianisms.  It proposes that the elect will not face apocalyptic upheaval along with the majority of humanity.  Those left behind–to employ commercially successful terminology–will include some who will eventually be saved and many who will not.  But all will suffer.  

Pre-millenial dispensationalism proposes that Christ will return and reign on earth before a final battle with anti-Christ.  Post-millenial dispensationalism envisions a period of earthly glory at the end of which Christ will appear and defeat anti-Christ.  In both situations, which posit a historical period between history’s consummation and the final, triumphant remaking of the world, humanity remains together.  Other Christian historiographical schema posit no such period.  Whoever lives at the time of the apocalypse will face its upheavals together.  Jewish messianisms operate in this fashion.  In all these situations, humanity remains together in the final stage of history.  Only adherents of the rapture posit a prior division between the elect and everyone else.  

It doesn’t matter that I don’t ascribe to any of these.  It matters what Michele Bachmann believes.  It bears upon what kind of commitment she is prepared to make to the American people.  If she believes she will be raptured, I want to know whom she proposes will govern in her stead.  And it doesn’t really seem like she can solve the conundrum of choosing the best possible person while being confident that person will not merit being raptured.


  1. HappyinVT

    about this stuff.

    First, is the Rapture supposed to happen during her term should we be dumb enough to elect her in the first place?  If so, then I suppose her beliefs could come into play…

    However, if the Rapture is of some unknown date (whether in her term or not) doesn’t this run counter to the whole notion that there is no religious test for political candidates?  Or, at the very least, doesn’t this blur the lines?

    Are we better served by focusing on known policy issues and the hypocrisy shown by her family?  Shoot, if nothing else, someone needs to ask her where those FEMA re-education camps are.

  2. Check out this article in De Spiegel (International edition) that just plopped into my email inbox:

    Does Secularism Make People More Ethical?


    Non-believers are often more educated, more tolerant and know more about God than the pious. A new wave of research is trying to figure out what goes on in the minds of an ever-growing group of people known as the “Nones”.


    The director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College in the US state of Connecticut, Kosmin is among the few researchers focused on the study of non-believers. This umbrella covers various groups including atheists, agnostics and humanists, as well as those who are simply indifferent to religion.

    Secularists make up some 15 percent of the global population, or about 1 billion people. As a group, this puts them third in size behind Christians (2.3 billion) and Muslims (1.6 billion). Despite their large numbers, little is known about this group of people. Who are they? And if not religion, what do they believe in?


    Churches in the US are losing up to 1 million members every year. In Europe, secularization has advanced even further. The number of non-religious people, those who do not believe in God or any higher power, has reached approximately 40 percent in France and about 27 percent in Germany.


    So what do these increasing numbers of non-believers believe in, if not God? Sociologist Phil Zuckerman, who hopes to start a secular studies major at California’s Pitzer College, says that secularists tend to be more ethical than religious people. On average, they are more commonly opposed to the death penalty, war and discrimination. And they also have fewer objections to foreigners, homosexuals, oral sex and hashish.

    The most surprising insight revealed by the new wave of secular research so far is that atheists know more about the God they don’t believe in than the believers themselves. This is the conclusion suggested by a 2010 Pew Research Center survey of US citizens. Even when the higher education levels of the unreligious were factored out, they proved to be better informed in matters of faith, followed by Jewish and Mormon believers.


    Boston University’s Catherine Caldwell-Harris is researching the differences between the secular and religious minds. “Humans have two cognitive styles,” the psychologist says. “One type finds deeper meaning in everything; even bad weather can be framed as fate. The other type is neurologically predisposed to be skeptical, and they don’t put much weight in beliefs and agency detection.”

  3. Shaun Appleby

    Hectic and fascinating thread.  Good luck with your dissertation, and thanks for taking the time to argue your case.

  4. BobL

    I’ve stared at this thread for a week now.  If I understand Bayesian inference correctly (a marginally stable assumption) then it would make more sense to ask Ms. Bachmann if she would agree, if elected, not to be assassinated, nor to unknowingly contract a terminal disease.  We could also ask her to agree never to consume, while in office, a surfeit of lampreys.  And we could reasonably expect her to select a running mate who would make the same commitments.  

    If instead we stick to the Rapture theme then in fairness we really need to ask President Obama the same question.  He did publicly avow his Christian faith in Christianity Today… so he will have beliefs on the Rapture as well.

    MB terrifies me as a candidate although I don’t think she has a snowball’s proverbial of gaining her party’s nomination.  But fair is fair.  There is no justification to single her out among several Christian candidates, some of whom may even be Democrat.

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