(Photo: REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)
Michele Bachmann provided a more detailed picture of her family life and personal faith during a recent interview with evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson.
The interview, which aired this week on Dobson's Family Talk radio program, touched on aspects of her life that the Republican presidential candidate has rarely addressed on the campaign trail, including her transformation into a "hyper disciple" of Christ, her parents' divorce, and her start in politics.
Because Family Talk is a 501(c)(3) organization, Dobson did not address political issues with Bachmann and her husband, Marcus. Instead, Dobson sought to give listeners a chance to get to know the Bachmanns on a more personal level.
The Minnesota congresswoman grew up in a Lutheran family but she didn't come to accept Christ until she was 16 years old in 1972.
"Three friends and myself went to my Lutheran church and the Lord called us up to the altar," she recalled on Family Talk. At the time, there was no pastor present but they got on their knees, confessed their sins and called out to the Lord, she said.
"It was genuine," she noted, saying that was the time she asked the Lord to come in to her life.
"I radically abandoned my heart to Jesus Christ."
Prior to that, she was involved in a prayer meeting at her school. But those in the meeting noticed she didn't have a personal relationship with Christ and began praying for her.
After she opened her heart to Christ at the altar, she "inhaled" Scripture every morning at 5 a.m. before school.
"I couldn't get enough of it," Bachmann detailed.
Since her born-again experience, she said she has been an obedient follower and has never doubted God.
Bachmann noted that she was not necessarily a "bad" person in societal terms, but she realized that she was a sinner and needed Christ.
In college, she and her now husband Marcus – who accepted Christ after watching evangelist Billy Graham on TV – became involved with InterVarsity, a Christian campus group, and together became "hyper disciples," as the congresswoman described.
They were greatly influenced by Francis Schaeffer's film series, "How Should We Then Live?" Schaeffer had called the abortion issue the watershed issue of our time, Bachmann, a strong pro-life advocate, recalled.
The Bachmanns became emotional during the interview when the GOP candidate recalled her parents' divorce.
"In our family, no one had ever been divorced before," she said.
When her parents split, her father moved to California and she never heard from him for six years.
"It was a very tough time," she said as she tried to hold back her emotions, saying it was difficult to talk about.
"I know that God used that experience in my life like no other experience to demonstrate His faithfulness to me," Bachmann stressed.
The 55-year-old politician noted that she finds no attraction in sin because she saw sin in her own family.
Bachmann stressed, "God is true. He can be trusted ... I saw the love of a Father that would never let me down."
After committing to Christ, she said she gave over bitterness and unforgiveness to the Lord. She also wrote a five-page letter to her dad, asking him for forgiveness. She never received a response but she continued to reach out to him.
It wasn't until her father was on his death bed that the two came together. When he asked for her forgiveness Bachmann told her father that she forgave him years ago.
Advising listeners facing similar challenges, Bachmann said, "Never hold on to hurt and pain or bitterness. Give it up. Have open hearts ... You only hurt yourself if you don't forgiven them."
Family of 30?
After pulling out of a difficult teenage life, when she also had to live below the poverty line, Bachmann went on to become a federal tax lawyer and raise a family with Marcus.
Along with raising their own five biological children, the couple opened their home to a total of 23 foster children (not all at the same time) after seeing another couple at their church become foster parents.
"We said 'that's something we can do,'" Marcus Bachmann explained. "We never thought it was a big deal. The Lord just gave us the ability to say 'yes.'"
Interestingly, it was through her foster children that Michele Bachmann's political career began.
While she homeschooled her biological children and sent them to a private Christian school, she was not able to do the same with her foster children.
"Minnesota prohibited us from putting our foster children in anything other than a public school," she said.
But she said she was distressed by what she saw her foster children bring home in their backpacks. That's when she devoted herself to education reform and helped change the academic standards in Minnesota.
Bachmann had no intention of becoming involved in politics after that but after attending a Republican convention on April 1, she became the endorsed candidate for Senate.
"I was an accidental politician," she described on Family Talk.
Expressing his support for his wife, whose dream was actually to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, Marcus said, "I have seen Michele understand the Gospel and Christ living in her so that this story is not her story, it's His story.
"That's the beauty of why she has run in the past and runs today for government – to serve and to understand that there's a greater cause. What husband cannot get behind a woman who has that kind of motivation?"
The Bachmanns paid tribute to Dr. Dobson during the interview for helping set the foundation for their family life.
"The legacy that you have left has been built into our life for 33 years of marriage. Your legacy will be felt in our grandchildren," Michele Bachmann said, as she called Dobson a legend in modern Christendom.
"We successfully got all the foster children through high school and launched into the world. All five of our biological children know the Lord and walk with the Lord. As far as we're concerned, there's no greater legacy. We're done."
Bachmann is scheduled to participate in a GOP debate Saturday at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.