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Bachmann stands behind pulpit at church that bans women from leadership role

MARION — Church pastors who do not believe women were called by God to serve in leadership roles turned their pulpit over Sunday morning to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate.

“We, as pastors, had talked about this beforehand,” Pastor Brian Hagerman told The Iowa Independent following Sunday services. “We generally would not have a woman to come to specifically teach because we feel God calls men as pastors to be the primary teachers of their churches.”

The congregation at New Life Community Church, founded in 1994, holds several core beliefs, which are outlined on the church’s website. Additional beliefs, which the pastors admit members “may understand differently,” are also taught, encouraged and practiced by the church leaders, who are described as being “unified in our conviction of these additional beliefs.”

Among such additional beliefs is God’s vision for women, and specifically the role women play in the church and family. Quoting from the church’s website, following the introduction of 1 Timothy 2:12-13 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”) and 1 Corinthians 14:33-5 (“As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”):

… Only men will be ordained as pastors for the overall teaching and leading of the church and be allowed to give authoritative instruction in our Sunday services. … We fully promote and appreciate our women teaching one another publicly in the events sponsored by our women’s ministries.

… From God’s perspective, the greatest people are not necessarily the “rulers” in God-ordained positions of authority in the government, church, or family, but rather: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” (Matt 20:25-27).

Hagerman said the pastors did not view Bachmann’s appearance and discussion from the pulpit necessarily as teaching, but as offering “testimony” to all members of the church about how a belief in God had changed her life.

“That’s really how we were looking at [her appearance] — as testimony from one believer to a group of believers about what God is doing,” he said.

Still, the decision by the pastors was not without critics within the church, who, as Hagerman explained during his introduction of Bachmann, responded to emails announcing the Bachmann visit with questions.

“We do, several times throughout the year, invite everybody from our church, whether they are men, women or even children, to come on up and just talk about what God is doing in their life and provide a testimony,” he said to The Iowa Independent.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/bachmann-prayer-new-life.jpgPastors and congregants at New Life Community Church in Marion prayer for U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and her family. (Photo: Lynda Waddington/The Iowa Independent)

For Bachmann’s part, she stayed within the boundaries the church had provided. She mentioned specific scriptures, but did not try to interpret them for the congregation. Her remarks were half personal introduction, half Zig Zigler’s bumblebee, heavily laden with emotion-provoking words and phrases for Christians and only waved at the fringe of current political issues.

For instance, she described how both herself and her husband Marcus took God into their hearts at the age of 16, and how those young decisions had shape her life.

“From that moment on, something changed in me, and the Lord put in me a hunger and thirst for his word,” she said, noting that within the word of God she found “the scarlet thread of redemption,” which is a phrase used by many Christians to describe a thematic unity of the Bible.

Bachmann related the biblical story of how Jonathan, son of Saul, was able to climb a cliff with only his guardsman and lay waste to the enemies of Israel.

“Never look at challenge and think that you go it alone,” Bachmann told the church members. “Never think that we serve a God who is not mighty to save.”

But would Hagerman or other church members who hold a similar doctrine toward gender roles as established by God be willing to vote for Bachmann as Commander in Chief?

“In my opinion, the answer to that question is yes,” he said. “[O]utside of specifically leading a church or pastoring a church, I personally don’t read in scripture that God says a man can have this job and a woman have this job. … In fact, if you go back to the very beginning in Genesis — Adam was a farmer. God created Adam’s wife Eve to farm with him, to rule over his creation. So I wouldn’t say that God specifically defines a man and a woman’s role in a particular category as it relates to their work or their occupation or even their leadership within communities, whether that be the community of the United States or the community of Marion, Iowa. So I would differentiate between what God designs for the leadership of this church, but maybe what God would differently design for the leadership of people as they serve in a particular occupation. I don’t think there is any conflict there at all.”

As she has often done during public speeches, Bachmann briefly mentioned the film series “How Should We Then Live” by Presbyterian minister and theologian Francis Schaeffer. The man theorized that everything — one’s entire view of the world — could be traced back to God and God’s influence and, more importantly, that it was one’s faith in God that would dictate how a person approached everything else in life.

In this respect, Bachmann appeared to differ with Hagerman’s assertion that God’s gender focus was on church and family and not on employment.

“Since he is the creator God, he’s the father of biology, sociology, of political science, of you name the subject,” she said.

“And that altered our way of thinking, that God had something to say about our career.”

The audio file embedded below contains Bachmann’s full Sunday morning remarks, which were completed while a thunderstorm raged outside:

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