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Are Michele Bachmann's Views About 'Christian Submission' Even More Extreme Than She's Letting On?

The people, churches and groups that shaped Bachmann's thinking are far more anti-woman than most Americans fully comprehend.

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Besides my father, Bachmann signed on as a follower of other leading “Reconstructionists” teaching “dominion.” And out of that movement came the big family, home-school movement that included a push to restore “traditional” roles of women.

This is a subject I know something about because I was the person who discovered and promoted one of the leading anti-feminist leaders who teaches absolute submission of women to their husbands -- and not in the “We respect each other” Bachmann-style whitewash.

In fact, the whole conservative evangelical movement Bachmann is part of is distinguished by its hatred of the feminist movement top to bottom.

In her hedging about what submission means to her, Bachmann has signaled with a wink and a nod to the Fox News crowd that she’ll have to soft-peddle some of her harsher views – at least as she’d theoretically apply them to other ordinary evangelical moms not running for president.

The Reconstructionist Patriarchy Movement

In 2009, over 6,000 women met in Chicago for the “True Woman Conference,” to call women to “Complementarianism” -- in other words, to join the Reconstructionist Patriarchy Movement called by another less-forbidding name. The organizers used their conference to launch the “True Woman Manifesto.” A clause in the preamble read, “When we respond humbly to male leadership in our homes and churches, we demonstrate a noble submission to [male] authority that reflects Christ’s submission to God His Father.”

“We are believing God for a movement of reformation and revival in the hearts and homes of Christian women all around this world,” the group’s leader, evangelical best-selling author/guru and “motivational speaker” Nancy Leigh DeMoss, said in her opening remarks.

Women are “called to encourage godly masculinity” by submitting to men, says the “True Woman Manifesto” those leaders assembled to sign. Women must “submit to their husbands and [male-only] pastors.”

According to this view of what I’ll call Godly Groveling Women, women must “honor the God-ordained male headship” of their husbands by allowing their men to rule them. Thus, selfish “rights” (as in the Bill of Rights) are “antithetical to Jesus Christ.” So The Godly Groveling True Woman believes that she must (as it were) rent her womb to God (and thus to a Reconstructionist revolution in whatever name) in order to embrace “fruitful femininity.”

For those who missed the conference, the way to a “Complete Submission Makeover” was made easy. According to the True Woman Web site, “Don’t miss out—take the 30-Day True Woman Make-Over to discover and experience God’s design and calling for your life! Join Nancy Leigh DeMoss on a journey through Proverbs 31, 1 Timothy 2:9–10, and Titus 2:1–5. For thirty days, we’ll send this email directly to your inbox, complete with biblical teaching; helpful links, printable downloads, and recommended resources.”

What Nancy Leigh DeMoss was doing with her Complete Submission Makeover was to extend the reach of a fringe fundamentalist movement—the “Quiverfull Movement”—into the evangelical mainstream. (The name of the Quiverfull Movement alludes to Psalm 127:3: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed.”)

Some Quiverfull leaders have argued against allowing daughters to attend college, as “worldly outsiders” might destroy their faith. Daughters, they say, should stay at home after they graduate from homeschooling. Daughters should practice being a “helpmeet” to their fathers, training to someday “serve” those godly husbands God will send their way. Some Quiverfull women are not allowed to drive. Others make lists of daily tasks to submit to their husbands for an okay. Quiverfull wives are carrying on at least one of Mom’s rules, however: They believe it is their duty to be sexually available to their husbands at all times. If a husband strays because of a wife’s refusal, it’s her fault.