This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is an effort on the part of Rep. Paul Broun (R) of Georgia, perhaps best known for having compared President Obama to Hitler, who now wants Congress to pass a resolution declaring 2010 as “The Year of the Bible.”

The bill was introduced last week by Rep. Paul Broun , a Republican from Georgia, and co-sponsored by 13 other Republicans.

The bill states , among other things, that “the Bible has inspired acts of patriotism that have unified Americans, commemorated through shared celebrations such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.”

The bill seeks to have the president designate 2010 as the Year of the Bible and “to issue a proclamation calling upon citizens of all faiths to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture which has profoundly influenced and shaped the United States and its great democratic form of Government.”

I’ve never understood about efforts like these, not only because the truly faithful tend to think the Bible doesn’t need help from politicians in the House of Representatives, but also because the symbolic gesture is necessarily fleeting. In 2010 is declared by Congress to be “The Year of the Bible,” what’s 2011? Or 2012? For those who take scripture seriously, isn’t every year the “Year of the Bible,” whether it’s declared by officials in Washington or not?

Broun’s resolution has been forwarded to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where it will likely be ignored.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Will faith healers be eligible for funding under the proposed health care reform measures? Time‘s Amy Sullivan considers the issue, and suggests President Obama’s standard — if there’s science to support a treatment, the treatment should be covered — may not be good enough for some faith communities. Specifically, Obama has said, “My attitude is that we should do what works…. I will let the science guide me.” For practitioners of Christian Science as well as other “alternative” therapies, that standard may prove too rigorous.

* In Miami, the Rev. Alberto Cutie is something of a celebrity. The Cuban-American priest has hosted shows on Telemundo, is a syndicated Spanish-language columnist, and headed the archdiocese’s Radio Paz and Radio Peace broadcasts, heard throughout the Americas and in Spain. He’s even earned the nickname “Father Oprah” for his relationship advice.

Last week, however, a magazine ran pictures of Rev. Cutie and his girlfriend kissing, which is something of a no-no for Roman Catholic priests. He is now mulling a plan to leave the priesthood and get married, but says he continues to support mandatory celibacy for priests.

* And don’t forget, Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame, which some apparently find controversial, is today tomorrow. Should be interesting.