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Michele Bachmann’s Head-Banging, Gay-Bashing BFF

How the Minnesota lawmaker fell in with a controversial hair-metal evangelist.

| Tue May 17, 2011 6:00 AM EDT

Although he portrays himself as a spirited defender of the Constitution, going so far as to offer a 12-week Constitution study class for $240, his past association with an anti-government group calls that into question. Until 2010, Dean was a member of Oregon-based Embassy of Heaven, a self-described "Christian Patriot" organization which subscribes to Sovereign Citizen ideology—the idea that citizens are themselves sovereign nations and therefore not bound to the laws of the United States.

Scott Roeder, the anti-abortion extremist who murdered Dr. George Tiller at his Wichita, Kansas church in 2009, was a member of Embassy, which makes money by selling fake license plates and passports. As part of his membership in the group, Dean signed a statement "renouncing his allegiance to the world and declaring citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven" (he did, however, continue to pay taxes). The group has been identified as an "anti-government group" by the Department of Justice.

In March, authorities arrested five Alaska sovereigns who were allegedly involved in a plot to murder state troopers and a federal judge.

Bachmann saw Dean's ministry not just as an everyday force for good, but as a potentially transformative vehicle.

Bachmann, through all of this, has publicly supported Dean's outreach, which dovetails with her own efforts to promote faith in public schools. During her first congressional campaign in 2006, she led a prayer for Dean's ministry at a Minneapolis hotel. "Lord, I thank you for what you have done with this ministry," she said, in a recording obtained by the Independent. "I thank you for how you are going to advance them from 260 schools a year, Lord, to 2,600 schools a year. Lord, we ask by faith that you would expand this ministry beyond anything the originators of this ministry could begin to think or imagine."

Bachmann saw Dean's ministry not just as an everyday force for good, but as a potentially transformative vehicle. "I thank you, oh God, that you are literally right now by faith you are lighting a fire," she continued. "A fire of the gospel, that would sweep this city, but even more so that it would sweep Minnesota. And that Minnesota would just become a burning incense. A sweet smelling incense of praise and sacrifice into your kingdom. So thank you now for this time. And pour a double blessing, Lord, a triple blessing onto this ministry."

Three years later, in 2009, she delivered a video address to the group's $50-a-plate fundraiser in Bloomington, reportedly telling the ministry, "It a tough job that you do, but someone has to do it." (At the same event, Dean said Christians were "called to war" to preserve the nation).

Dean is no party hack. As Matt Labash noted in a 2006 Weekly Standard profile, he was critical of President Bush (calling him a "punk, lyin' stinkin' kid") and believes Dick Cheney will end up in hell. Dean also shares many of the kinds of fringe views that make Bachmann such a polarizing figure within her own party.

For instance, they both have a mind for paranoia. On his radio show, Dean has alleged that members of his ministry are being stalked by helicopters, and suggested to Labash that the moon landing was a hoax—a theory he briefly introduced to public school students as part of his stage routine. Bachmann, for her part, has suggested that, among other things, President Obama will force youths to attend "re-education camps."

Bachmann's anti-gay activism isn't confined to her relationship with Dean. She has previously called homosexuality a "sexual dysfunction," and recently refused to say whether she thinks being gay is a public health risk akin to second-hand smoke—a view held by the Family Leader, an Iowa social conservative group she supports. In a bizarre 2005 incident, Bachmann alleged that she had been held against her will by members of an LGBT group, in a women's restroom in Scandia, Minnesota. The Minneapolis City Pages alleged that her husband, Marcus, was active in the ex-gay movement, which seeks to convert gays through psycho-therapy (a charge Mr. Bachmann denied).

Bachmann did not respond to a request for comment. Dean declined an interview request, explaining through a spokesman that he "doesn’t want to be used to shame Michele Bachmann in any way."

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