THIS WEEK IN GOD…. For readers who haven’t been around the past couple of weekends, I have brought back “This Week in God” as a regular Saturday feature. The weekly piece highlights 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 by popular demand, it’s back.

First up from the God Machine, he Rev. Ed Young, pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, recently challenged the married couples in his congregation of 20,000 to have sex on a daily basis. As Young sees it, “congregational copulation” brings people closer to God, closer to their spouse, reduces the likelihood of adultery, and sets a loving example for children.

So, how’s it going?

It is not always easy to devote time for your spouse, Pastor Young admitted. Just three days into the sex challenge he said he was so tired after getting up before dawn to talk about the importance of having more sex in marriage that he crashed on the bed around 8 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Mrs. Young tried to shake him awake, telling her husband, “Come on, it’s the sex challenge.” But Mr. Young murmured, “Let’s just double up tomorrow,” and went back to sleep.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Remember Ted Haggard, the resident of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals? You know, the one caught up in a sordid scandal involving a male prostitute and methamphetamine? He’s apparently trying to make a comeback as a a Christian businessman and insurance salesman.

* Pope Benedict XVI apparently isn’t big on interfaith dialogue. According to Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the pope will argue in his soon-to-be-published book that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, Benedict argues, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”

* And in Croatia, government officials have curtailed official Christmas and New Year parties due to a lack of funds. Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said the decision was dictated by the need for fiscal prudence. “For that goal we forbid buying of Christmas and New Year’s gifts as well as organising of Christmas and New Year’s receptions,” Sanader said. Here’s hoping no one tells O’Reilly about the decision. (thanks to reader V.S. for the tip)

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.