suddenly michele bachmann's bio seems important, and michelle goldberg gives a solid interesting run-through. there's this:
At Coburn, Bachmann studied with John Eidsmoe, who she recently described as "one of the professors who had a great influence on me." Bachmann served as his research assistant on the 1987 book Christianity and the Constitution, which argued that the United States was founded as a Christian theocracy, and that it should become one again. "The church and the state have separate spheres of authority, but both derive authority from God," Eidsmoe wrote. "In that sense America, like [Old Testament] Israel, is a theocracy."
Eidsmoe, who hung up the phone when asked for an interview, is a contentious figure. Last year, he withdrew from speaking at a Wisconsin Tea Party rally after the Associated Press raised questions about his history of addresses to white-supremacist groups. In 2010, speaking at a rally celebrating Alabama's secession from the Union, he claimed that Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than Abraham Lincoln.
Reading Eidsmoe, though, some of Bachmann's most widely ridiculed statements begin to make sense. Earlier this year, for example, she was mocked for saying that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly" to end slavery. But in books by Eidsmoe and others who approach history from what they call a Christian worldview, this is a truism. Despite his defense of the Confederacy, Eidsmoe also argues that even those founders who owned slaves opposed the institution and wanted it to disappear, and that it was only Christian for them to protect their slaves until it did. "It might be very difficult for a freed slave to make a living in that economy; under such circumstances setting slaves free was both inhumane and irresponsible," he wrote.
the idea that the united states was founded as a theocracy is just wacky. largely, it was founded by deists, enlightenment-age religious skeptics. some of the rest of this is not wacky at all. jefferson and madison and washington were all slave-owners who expressed their opposition to the institution of slavery and hoped that it would end. you could call that hypocrisy of course, but the claim itself is accurate, and they also reached for the justification that they didn't want merely to free their slaves because they needed to be protected, etc.
it sounds to some people strange to say that calhoun, for example, understood the constitution better than lincoln. but calhoun was easily the more well-versed of the two in the history of the constitution, the fed papers, etc., and also easily the more scholarly and intellectual. his late treatises a disquisition on government and a discourse on the constitution and government of the united states (check here) are among the most important works of republican political theory, or of political theory in the united states, written in the nineteenth century, despite the highly disturbing pro-slavery undertow.
it might seem obvious that nullification and secession are unconstitutional, but that is not obvious at all. jefferson argued that either was justified - and in keeping with the constitution - in the face of the alien and sedition acts, for example (check here). lysander spooner - an ardent abolitionist and legal scholar - agreed, even in the lead-up to the civil war (here), etc.
just for the heck of it, i might add that the most extreme and principled abolitionists were evangelical protestant christians. and i should think that even the biggest fans of abraham lincoln would or should admit that in order for him to justify and prosecute the civil war, the constitution had to be stretched virtually to breaking.