U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota -- the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. president, according to recent polls -- ended her membership in a Lutheran Church last month, just six days before her formal announcement that she is a candidate for U.S. president.
The timing of her leaving has resulted in much media speculation that Bachmann left the Lutheran Church because it is quite critical of Catholicism. This speculation conveys that Bachmann did not want to give Americans the impression that she is anti-Catholic.
Whether that is the reason Bachmann left the Lutheran Church is not certain. What is certain, however, is that her reason for leaving the Lutheran Church is nobody's business but her own.
In other words, the religious affiliation a person prefers is that person's personal and private right. It is not the right of the news media to question a person's religion or reason for leaving a religion.
True, the Lutheran denomination -- by its own admission -- states, "We identify the anti-Christ as the papacy. This is an historical judgment based on Scripture." That being the case, the news media has jumped to the conclusion that Bachmann left the Lutheran Church, so as not to give the impression that she is anti-Catholic.
Once again, I cannot overemphasize the fact that a person's religion is a personal and private matter to which a person is entitled, not a matter for the news media to scrutinize and to question.
In the final analysis, the news media has a responsibility to refrain from asking a person -- including a candidate running for public office -- his or her religious affiliation, or reasons for choosing or leaving it, since this kind of questioning not only violates a person's privacy, but is also a flagrant violation of professional journalistic and broadcasting ethics.