This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. At my old site, I did a weekly item called “This Week in God” — yes, I blatantly stole borrowed the name from “The Daily Show” — highlighting some of the news from the world of religion, most notably instances in which faith intersected with politics and/or public policy. TWIG was on hiatus during the height of the election season, but this week, it makes its return.

First up from the God Machine, the Rev. Jay Scott Newman, a South Carolina Roman Catholic priest, generated some attention this week by announcing that parishioners who voted for Barack Obama are not eligible for Communion. Yesterday, his diocese announced that Newman had gone too far.

South Carolina’s Charleston-based Roman Catholic Diocese said Friday that it doesn’t believe parishioners who voted for Barack Obama should have to seek penance before partaking Holy Communion, a condition a Greenville priest suggested this week because of Obama’s stance on abortion. […]

“As administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings,” Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin said Friday in a posting on the diocese’s Web site. “Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated.”

No word on whether Newman will face any kind of punishment or formal rebuke.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Bush isn’t quite done blurring the church-state line: “Employing unusually vivid religious imagery for the secular United Nations, President Bush on Thursday praised the ‘transformative and uplifting power of faith’ and said religious belief ‘leads us to common values.’ Addressing a two-day interfaith conference that has prompted mixed reactions from other leaders, Bush said religious belief ‘changed my life’ and ‘sustained me through the challenges and joys of my presidency.’ He also suggested faith can transform relations between nations and cultures.”

* Buses in Washington, D.C. will feature ads proclaiming, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake,” starting next week and running through December. The ads are part of a new campaign being launched by the American Humanist Association. “We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you,” said Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group. “Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion.”

* And finally, there’s some question as to where the Obama family will worship after they move into the White House in January. The United Church of Christ (UCC), the Obamas’ denomination, hand-delivered an invitation to Obama’s Senate office to join one of their many parishes in the area (the UCC has four congregations relatively close to the White House). Among the considerations: Secret Service protection and whether the church pastor has ever, or might in the future, say something controversial.