Recently PoliticalGates decided to throw the spotlight on Michelle Bachmann who has declared her intention to run for president in 2012. I just wanted to take a moment to take a closer look at the woman, the couple and the man behind the woman.
According to her biography, Bachmann was born Michele Marie Amble in Waterloo, Iowa, to a Lutheran Norwegian American family who moved from Iowa to Minnesota when she was young.
After her parents divorced, Bachmann's father, David John Amble, moved to California, and Bachmann was raised by her mother, Jean, who worked at the First National Bank in Anoka, Minnesota. Bachmann grew up in Anoka, graduating from Anoka High School in 1974.
.At Winona State University Michele Amble met her husband, Marcus, a fellow
college student and dairy farmer. They began dating in 1976 while working together on Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign. Presumably, they were both attracted to the candidate because of Carter's born-again status. However, as Bachmann would later explain, she grew disenchanted with Carter’s liberal approach to public policy, which included legalized abortion. After graduation in 1978,the couple married and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. After moving to Tulsa, Michele Bachmann enrolled at the Bible-based Coburn School of Law, an affiliate of Oral Roberts University.
A little more about Coburn School of Law
As the book, Oral Roberts: An American life, by David Edwin Harrell relates, the donation to Oral Roberts University that funded the creation of the Coburn law school was made by O.W. Coburn, the father of current Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn. The law school's founding dean, Charles A. Kothe, (later a labor consultant for the Reagan Administration) outlined the university's mission:
Our first goal at the O.W. Coburn School of law is to equip our students with the ability to bring God's healing power to reconcile individuals and to restore community wholeness. That goal requires student not only to become technically competent lawyer with high ethical value but to learn how to integrate their Christian faith into their chosen profession.. Our second goal is to restore law to its historic roots in the Bible."
The stated purpose and student selection guidelines led to a long and bitter accreditation fight with the ABA. This accreditation struggle would begin innocently enough in 1978, when the university was given authorization to begin the school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. However, obtaining approval by the ABA would prove more of a challenge.
This application was made to the association in September 1980. Although the school was given high marks for its financial backing and academic programs, questions arose about its stated purpose. In spring of 1981, administrators appeared before the American Bar Association's Committee of Admissions. At this meeting, the first question asked to the Law school's directors was, "If one of the male members of your faculty wanted to marry another of the male members of your faculty, what would you do?" The officials from the school were flabbergasted. Finally, they answered, "Why, I'd fire him."
Later, in a second meeting, the battle with the ABA would escalate. The primary issue was the school's requirement that all attending students sign a code of honor, affirming a belief that Jesus was their Lord and Savior.
After a court ruling in its favor, the matter was brought before the House of Delegates in the American Bar Association and, after a heated debate, the vote to give accreditation passed by a slim margin.
More about Marcus
Michele and Marcus live in Stillwater, Minnesota and have five children, Lucas, Harrison, Elisa, Caroline, and Sophia.
The husband of the Congresswoman from the sixth district has been a clinical therapist in the Twin Cities area for more than 18 years. Additionally, Marcus is a popular conference speaker with practical insights, biblical principles, and humor interwoven in his messages. It should surprise nobody that his politics are based in a decidedly conservative nature.
Now, let's turn Dr. Marcus Bachmann's educational background. His websitestates that he has a master’s degree education/counseling from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Regent University is a private Christian university, founded by the American televangelist Pat Robertson in 1978 as Christian Broadcasting Network University. (This is, by the way, the man who recently claimed that Haiti's founders had sworn a "pact to the Devil" in order to liberate themselves from the French slave owners and indirectly attributed the earthquake to the consequences of the Haitian people being "cursed" for doing so. And this is also the man who blamed the September 11th 2001 attacks on “the ACLU, the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays, and the lesbians”)
Apart from the silliness that its founder has created, Regent University, in its recent history, has had its own share of controversies and set-backs. In June, 2007, five of the eleven full time faculty members of School of Psychology & Counseling's master's counseling program resigned.
One professor said that there is a "climate of fear and intimidation” within the school. Another said, “The climate is contrary to Christian values rather than embracing them.” While a third said, “I cannot in good conscience continue to participate in this unhealthy and toxic environment.” A petition was circulated which criticized the behavior of the school's dean and the counseling department's program director said to have used the terms "brothas”, “hoes” and “homos”, though some students said the words were used in an "academic context".
Marcus Bachmann received his Ph.D degree in clinical psychology fromUnion Graduate Institutelocated in Cincinnati, Ohio. Union Institute, a non-profit private college based in Cincinnati, Ohio, specializes in limited residence and distance learning programs. Union Institute & University currently has a retention rate of approximately 67% and holds a graduation rate of approximately 52%.
Union Institute has received a number of complaints in recent years, claiming that credits obtained from the university's doctorate program are essentially "worthless." One complainant writes, "Back in 2004, I was sent an email by the President of Union Institute and University, Roger Sublett, that stated that UI&U had been censured by the United States Department of Education. All of the doctoral students received that email... " (One assumes that Marcus Bachmann must be aware of the problems.)
According to the Ohio Board of Regents Reauthorization report, which was particularly critical of the Ph.D program " ... expectations for student scholarship at the doctoral level were not as rigorous as is common for doctoral work ... "
Furthermore, there remains a question about the degree itself. Wikipedia attempts to shed some light on the definition of a Ph.D according to this institution.
"One thing that distinguishes the Union Institute and University from its for-profit competitors is the the generalist nature of its Ph.D. The formal title of its Ph.D. degree is "Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies." This title and the program reflect the original idea of the consortium of offering a non-residential Ph.D. program that avoided specialization and did not take as long to complete as a traditional program (originally it took a minimum of two years to complete)."
Given the problems with the Ph.D degree issued by Union and questions regarding the institution's accreditation, it is quite conceivable that the Bachmann's credentials are invalid altogether.“ This would also raise some questions about the clinic’s ability to meet the Minnesota requirements for licensing.
As another graduate of Union Institute, talk show host Gary Null, notes, "This school is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools but its accreditation does not cover awarding of PhDs in the sciences, only in the humanities. "
In any case, since nothing on either of the Bachmann's resume mention residing in Cincinnati, where Union Institute is located, one must, at the very least, assume his degree is a distance-learning or online type and not one normally associates with a medical doctor.
The Man and His Work
In a 2003 Christmas letterto all her fans and friends, Michele announced the exciting news that her husband had just opened "Bachmann & Associates Christian Counseling Center," "Conveniently located, Marcus and his professional staff are poised to care for those you've always wanted to make an appointment for," the letter cheerfully notes.
Bachmann and Associates, founded and owned Marcus Bachmann, offers counseling on a wide array of specialties, such as addictions to marital problems, depression, eating disorders, and men's and women's issues. The website also lists children, shame and spiritual issues.
However, last year, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a watchdog group, launched an investigation of Bachmann and Associates for a misuse of taxpayer funds. The Minnesotan Independent first reported that Bachmann’s clinic received nearly $30,000 in state funds since 2007. That, in itself, is strikingly hypocritical, given the very public stance of Michele Bachmann who became famous for infammatory rhetoric opposing government “handouts.” Regarding Obama's health care reform, Bachmann told audiences “We saw the passage of socialized medicine.”
Jim Duffett of the Campaign for Better Health Carecalled Bachmann’s words and actions hypocritical. “Yes, she is taking money from government programs, which she calls ‘socialism,’ and at the same time taking taxpayers money to help cover the clinic’s health care costs,” he said. Her family business is taking in taxpayer money, he said, “and at the same time demanding that taxes be cut.”
However, a greater problem lies in the fact that Bachmann and Associates, Inc, while taking government funding, openly advertises itself as a religion-based counseling center.
One glance at the clinic's website confirms that much. Marcus Bachmann's personal mission statement:
I believe my call is to minister to the needs of people in a practical, effective, and sensitive way. Christ is the Almighty Counselor.
While there are one or two counselors who do not mention religion or Christianity in their resumes, here are a few of the other personal mission statements from the Lake Elmo clinic:
Kathryn Kimball, NILD Educational Therapist, Level III I want to provide Christ-centered Educational Therapy in a caring, professional way that addresses the underlying causes of learning disabilities.
Tim Johnson, Clinic Director, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist It is my responsibility through the power of the Holy Spirit to address presenting needs with all the Grace the Lord has offered me.
In the Burnsvilles Clinic- listed on the website as part of Bachmann and Associates, all of the counselors' mission statements make some reference to religion and only one religion.
Brent Baumler, Burnsville Clinic Director, Clinical Therapist It is my mission to provide Christ-centered, Bible-based counseling to those hurting from the trials and troubles of this world.
Ronda LaPointe, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker To show Christ’s love and grace, while building a compassionate and caring partnership. Through respect, sincere interest, and in depth listening, I help individuals navigate through the issues that cause them difficulties; and, together we work to find suitable means to reach balance and fulfillment in their life.
Shelia J. Marker, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist To come along side of those who are struggling to offer hope and encouragement that they can find healing and wholeness in their lives with therapy that is psychologically sound as well as consistent with Biblical principles.
Gene Martens, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Living requires constant adjustment to life changes. I find it a humble honor to walk with individuals as they discover ways to live fulfilling lives discovering God’s grace in Christ.
Kristi Wilder, Clinical Therapist My desire is to be an instrument of hope, encouragement, and guidance to others on their path to emotional and spiritual healing. I want to walk along side you and your family, with God’s grace and guidance, as you work toward positive change and growth.
The Minnesota Independent article also quotes Dr. Bachmann's radio interview.
“We are distinctly a Christian counseling agency here in the Twin Cities,”he told KKMS radio in 2008.“We have 27 Christian counselors, Christ-centered, very strong in our understanding of who the Almighty Counselor is, and as we rely on God’s word and the Almighty Counselor, we have the opportunity to change people’s lives.
According to the article,
The clinic applied for and received Rule 29 and Rule 31 licensing from the state in 2003. The rules allow the clinic to receive state money to treat low-income Minnesotans for mental health and chemical dependency problems. The clinic has earned $27,564 in state payments since 2007 — and likely received more, since the Minnesota Transparency and Accountability Project’s online data only goes back to 2007. Bachmann and Associates took $1,419 in public money in 2007, $13,140 in 2008, $12,493 in 2009 and $512 so far in 2010, according to the transparency project.
“It’s wrong for the government to buy clinical services that include submission to God or proselytization,” he said. “This appears to be a textbook case of taxpayers’ funds for religious purposes.” Luchenitser added that it would be even more problematic if the Bachmanns only hired Christian employees while taking government funding.
“That would be religious discrimination,” he said.
Straightening out the Barbarians
Other critics have charged that the clinic engages in "de-gaying" or "reparative therapy." In other words, treatment aimed at making homosexual patients into heterosexual patients.
The Independent article also states that Dr. Bachmann has told newspapers that he doesn't encourage gays to become straight, but he has spoken about the issue at length on Christian radio.
He toldPoint of View Talk Radiothat if a child confides in a parent that they might be gay, that parent should discourage the child from being gay. He also said because of public schools, the number of homosexuals in America is increasing.
“We have to understand that barbarians need to be educated, need to be disciplined,” Bachmann said. “And just because someone thinks [they're gay] or feels it doesn’t mean we need to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature.”
“We have a responsibility as parents and authority figures not to allow such feelings to move into action steps” such as homosexual relationships, he said. “What is our public school system doing today? They are giving full wide open doors to children not only encouragement to think it, but to encourage actions steps.”
He concluded, “The percentage of homosexuals in this country is small but by these open doors we can see it is starting to increase.”
For his part, Dr. Bachmann denies that the clinic is involved in such therapy. When asked about the accusation, he merely says, "That's a false statement," Yet Bachmann offers, "If someone is interested in talking to us about their homosexuality, we are open to talking about that. But if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don't have a problem with that." (It seems quite impossible to match this to the statements made on talk radio, cited above.)
Public statements aside, what is said to the flock also seem to cast doubt on Bachmann's denials and claims of open mindedness. For example, in November of 2005, when the Bachmanns attended a "Minnesota Pastors' Summit" organized by the conservative, antigay Minnesota Family Council at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, around 300 religious leaders attended the event,. Leading a session on the gay marriage amendment was Michele while Marcus offered a presentation titled "The Truth About the Homosexual Agenda."
Curt Prins, a 35-year-old marketing executive from Minneapolis, attended. Prins, who is gay, says he went because he was "curious" and wanted to "understand the language" of the antigay movement. "There was so much bile, I nearly had to leave," Prins recalls.
For Marcus Bachmann's session, Prins says there were more than 100 people crammed in a room at Grace, and most of the presentation involved stereotypes of gays. "He was saying how homosexuality was a choice, that it was not genetics," Prins says. "He was claiming there was a high predominance of sexual abuse in the GLBT community. There was no research to back any of this up." (Marcus Bachmann refused to answer questions about the seminar.)
The climax of the presentation was when, according to Prins, Bachmann brought up "three ex-gays, like part of a PowerPoint presentation." The trio, two white men and a black woman, all testified that they had renounced their homosexuality. "One of them said, 'If I was born gay, then I'll have to be born again,'" Prins recalls. "The crowd went crazy."
"Listening to him," Prins surmises, "it becomes clear that he's had a huge impact on her. He might be the spearhead of this whole religious/gay issue." Shortly after Bachmann announced her candidacy for U.S. Congress, there was an announcement on a website called the Minnesota Christian Chronicle. "Michele is a compassionate, intelligent woman of integrity who has a calling in her life. I am confident in Michele's ability to serve the constituents superbly well in the Sixth District," Marcus Bachmann was quoted as saying. "As her husband, I fully endorse Michele running for U.S. Congress. I am so thankful for her Christian testimony. She is a servant who honors Christ."
So, there you have it. The first Republican candidate to announce her intention to run for the highest position in the United States government, this servant of Christ, Michele Bachmann, and her confessed strategist/ accomplice, Dr. Marcus.