THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is an odd fight between a religious right powerhouse and one of its closest allies on Capitol Hill.

When President Obama nominated Kathleen Sebelius to head HHS, far-right groups, for reasons that have never made sense, decided they could derail the nomination. Their efforts were immediately scuttled, however, when Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) announced his support for Sebelius, despite her support for abortion rights.

The Family Research Council this week decided to boycott Brownback’s “Values Action Team” meeting — the far-right senator meets weekly with representatives of right-wing evangelical organizations — citing his support for the Sebelius nomination. CBN reported that the FRC won’t return until after Sebelius’ confirmation.

The Brody File interviewed Tom McClusky, Senior Vice-President of FRC Action about FRC’s decision to leave the VAT meetings:

“It was a very tough decision except the Family Research Council thought that while we try to fight against this Sebelius nomination and to bring her record to light that it would be better if we took a temporary leave of absence from the values action team…

“We will re-evaluate after the Sebelius nomination if we should go forward with the values Action Team. It’s just that right now we feel somewhat compromised in trying to use that as a vehicle to get our message across.”

The FRC seems to be spinning its wheels on this one. Even if the religious right could find a senator to filibuster the nomination, there are more than enough votes to confirm Sebelius.

That said, FRC’s obvious frustration points to a larger truth — the religious right movement is noticing more and more that its demands aren’t going to be met by their GOP allies, whether they’re in the majority or in the minority.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* The blurring of the church-state line in the U.S. military continues to be a serious and divisive issue.

* New research from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that “women pray more often than men, are more likely to believe in God, and are more religious than men in a variety of other ways.” (thanks to reader R.K. for the tip)

* Remember the “Godless Americans” ad from former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) last year? It was one of the more offensive religiously-based campaign ads in a generation, and this week, the Republican staffer who came up with the spot defended the notorious commercial. (The staffer, unfazed by the criticism of his repulsive ad, said, “We needed something that had some shock value and would also generate an earned media component.”)

* Republicans in the Oklahoma House introduced a resolution this week, criticizing the University of Oklahoma for teaching modern biology, and denouncing an invitation to biologist Richard Dawkins to speak on campus. (It’s the 21st century. I just thought I’d mention that.)

* And finally, for the first time since a deadly bombing in 2006, Shi’ite pilgrims returned to worship yesterday at the Askariya shrine in Samarra.

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.