This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is a fairly prominent religious right organization, pushing a line that may seem like a parody, but is apparently quite sincere.

You have heard about the recent death of a trainer at Sea World. The American Family Association, a group best known for launching odd boycotts and claiming to fight the “War on Christmas,” believes the incident would have not have occurred at the Orlando theme park if only it had followed Biblical mandates. From a piece the AFA published this week:

If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone’s misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)

So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death. You have no moral culpability in the death, because you didn’t know the animal was going to go postal on somebody.

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)

Sounds a bit like the AFA wants Sea World’s owners to be executed, too.*

Also from the God Machine this week:

* In Amarillo, Texas, an organization called “Repent Amarillo” is starting to draw increased attention. The outfit is apparently made up of a bunch of right-wing religious activists who harass locals who engage in legal behavior the group finds morally offensive. It is, by most measures, almost a literal example of an American Taliban, and it’s pretty scary stuff.

* Another painful embarrassment for the Vatican: “A singer in an elite Vatican choir and a jailed Italian public works executive who served as a papal usher were let go by the Vatican this week amid allegations that they were involved in what prosecutors believe was an organized network of gay prostitution, Italian news media reported.”

* And the religious right really wasn’t happy about Obama administration officials meeting with atheist and secular groups last week.

* Update: I had originally included a paragraph from ThinkProgress about AFA’s relationship with congressional Republicans, but it turns out that paragraph was mistaken. I’ve deleted it.