I do not know enough about Bachmann to respond to the bulk of the article about her. However I know enough about editing and writing to know that Lizza did not really have a story, so he just started pulling stuff out of thin air in order to meet the required word count for the article.
Apparently, the Bachmann’s watched Schaeffer’s film series How Should We then Live? in the late 1970s. This in turn causes Lizza to churn out more than 1200 words about Schaeffer, all of which can best be characterized as a complete misrepresentation of Schaeffer’s work and views. He makes Schaeffer out to be some right-wing, crazy, Christian fanatic out to take over the government, install a Christian theocracy, and poison the populace with his outlandish views. Since Schaeffer was a fairly mainstream evangelical, in effect, by slandering Schaeffer, Lizza is slandering the vast majority of theologically conservative Christians in the US, but he seems unaware of this fact. Further, Lizza is unable to provide any link between Bachmann and Schaeffer, except for Bachmann’s statement that Schaeffer’s film was an influence to her.
Funny. In the mid-1970s, I saw the movie Jaws and it influenced my views on some issues (film, ocean swimming, etc.). If Lizza were writing my profile, he would no doubt use more than 1200 words to misrepresent the content of the film (“bloodthirsty sheriff, brain-addled fisherman, and deluded marine biologist persecute and kill harmless fish, breaking numerous laws in the process”), to ruminate about the dangers of the sea (“the ocean is very dangerous for sharks, as crazy people want to kill them”), and to talk about how people had become afraid of sharks (“Saturday Night Live once did a skit called ‘Land shark’, proving how paranoid even America’s elite had become because of this vile film about this benign yet beautiful sea creature”). Yet, none of this would be the least bit relevant to me or my life. There is no story there.
Bachmann watching a film series in 1979 is certainly no justification for more than 1200 words of prose. A true journalist would have just reported what Bachmann said, made a quick note accurately explaining who Schaeffer was, and then talked about Bachmann and her views. However, Lizza wants to tarnish Bachmann’s reputation through guilt by association with Schaeffer. Sadly for his readers, he does not provide much evidence of a Bachmann-Schaeffer link to begin with, and Schaeffer is not guilty of the crimes Lizza accuses him of.
Among other things, Lizza reports,
In 1981, three years before he died, Schaeffer published “A Christian Manifesto,” a guide for Christian activism, in which he argues for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed.
A summary of A Christian Manifesto, delivered in an address by Francis Schaeffer, can be found here. In his address, he talks of civil disobedience to the government when its dictates violate the believer’s conscience. Nowhere in his book does he ever call for violent resistance against or advocate the overthrow of the government in any way.
Francis Schaeffer was primarily interested in philosophy, culture, and apologetics, and even today he is known in theologically conservative Christian circles as one of the best modern thinkers in those areas. While Schaeffer thought that our beliefs should inform our politics and that Christians should certainly be involved in the political situation, he completely rejected the idea that the country should become a theocracy or that the wall between church and state should be torn down. Rather, Schaeffer was most interested in seeing Christians engage with their culture and society, and bring about a transformation of a country one person at a time through persuasion and the triumph of Christian ideas.
While I do not know if Bachmann is really true to the ideas of Schaeffer, if she is then she certainly rises in my esteem. Schaeffer was by no means a perfect man, but his view of how Christians should interact with society was exactly correct in my humble opinion.
Meanwhile, Ryan Lizza has proven that he is nothing but a hack reporter who has not earned his salary and who thinks lies and innuendo are a substitute for solid journalism.
(H/t Coffee & Markets)