This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is a new ad from the American Values Network, hoping to promote health care reform from the perspective of the religious left.

The progressive faith group, led by Hillary Clinton’s former faith outreach director, uses the thousands of people who waited in line for free health care in Los Angeles this August to make their case.

“For eight days in August, thousands of uninsured Americans waited to receive treatment at a free health clinic.” In Los Angeles County, where an estimated 22% of working-age adults lack health insurance, an overwhelming number of adults made their way to a free health care clinic providing free care from volunteer doctors and dentists. These visitors are “not numbers or statistics,” the ad says. “They are God’s children and they have a face.”

“While politicians bear false witness, they wait… While special interests reap the profits of fear, they wait.” For the American Values Network, health insurance reform is not a political or partisan debate, but an issue of faith.

“Our new ad reminds us all why we began the debate in the first place: our neighbors are suffering and our current system must be reformed,” the group says.

It’s a strong, compelling pitch, but the ad is a minute long, and it’s unclear whether the American Values Network will have the resources necessary for a significant ad buy.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* There are new rumors in right-wing circles that President Obama won’t have a Christmas tree at the White House. Apparently the White House Historical Association has been receiving quite a few calls and emails about this. It’s a bogus urban legend, though it’s unclear if reality will make any difference.

* The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, owner of the far-right Washington Times, held his first huge mass wedding in a decade this week. Moon’s “blessing ceremony,” the largest since 1999, married some 40,000 people in dozens of international cities simultaneously.

* And in Philadelphia, Herbert and Catherine Schaible will stand trial on manslaughter charges after they prayed over their two-year-old dying son instead of seeking medical treatment. When police asked the parents why they neglected to get care for the toddler, they said, “We believe in God for healing.” The Philadelphia judge who upheld involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, and conspiracy charges this month against the Schaibles called them “loving” but “misguided.”