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Calvin Freiburger

A Refresher on Church-State Separation with Michele Bachmann

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Posted on October 19 2010 11:00 am
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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There’s no denying that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is one of the Right’s rising stars, and at the Daily Beast, Shushannah Walshe has an interesting report on the congresswoman’s rise to power and personal motivations. The most specific and controversial objection to Bachmann addressed in the piece surrounds a counseling center run by her husband:

Her husband, a therapist, runs a Christian counseling center called Bachmann & Associates. They provide Christian-centered therapy on issues including depression, drug addiction, and marital problems.

“It’s trying to help people through biblical principles and I’m sure he uses those rather than the secular because he is a Christian. The Bible has the answers for so many of the problems that people have today that he would use biblical counseling,” says her close friend Beverly LeHaye (the wife of bestselling Christian author Reverend Tim LeHaye).

Recently Bachmann & Associates came under fire when Americans United for the Separation of Church and State started to investigate them because they were receiving state funds. While under investigation in 2008, the state ended a contract they had with the center, but Americans United plans to keep looking into Bachmann & Associates because they believe it is a “clear constitutional violation for an organization that engages in proselytizing and religious counseling to receive any public funds for such programming.”

This summer, the American Independent reported that the services for which Bachmann & Associates received public money consisted of “treat[ing] low-income Minnesotans for mental health and chemical dependency problems.”

Is this actually unconstitutional? Not according to the U.S. Constitution—the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was meant simply to keep Congress, not state legislatures, from establishing an official state church to which Americans would owe their allegiance; the Founders’ own words and actions during the Founding Era overwhelmingly reveal that they accepted the legitimacy of numerous ways government could interact with religion that in no way imperil liberty.

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