This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is a relatively low-profile White House proclamation, which caused a bit of a stir in some circles.

The White House, in the midst of an intense charm offensive aimed at the Jewish and pro-Israel communities, has dropped an archaic phrase that has, in the past, rankled Jewish groups.

The use of the proclamation boilerplate “in the year of our Lord” for a celebration of Jewish Heritage Month had struck a slightly off-key note for Jewish groups in Obama’s last proclamation, as in those of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

This year, the phrase has been replaced by the simple phrase, “in the year two thousand ten.”

Fox News and WorldNetDaily were less than pleased with the White House’s move, but some in the Jewish community seemed to appreciate the gesture. Steven Freeman of the Anti-Defamation League describing the wording of the date “as a welcome, sensitive, and attentive gesture.”

Also from the God Machine this week:

* In the wake of its latest international sex-abuse/cover-up scandal, the Roman Catholic Church’s public standing has faltered badly. (thanks to reader D.J. for the tip) [Update: Looks like this poll was older than I’d realized. Apologies.]

* Integrity Bank was created in Atlanta 10 years ago, intended to be a financial institution “founded on Christian principles.” The bank even distributed free Bibles to customers. This week, we learned that the bank, which failed in 2008, hastened its downfall by “selling fraudulent loans to a hotel developer in exchange for bribes.”

* Michael Newdow, the same activist who filed suit to strip “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, has also tried to remove “so help you God” from presidential oaths. An appeals court this week threw out his case.

* State lawmakers in Louisiana are considering a measure to allow guns in churches. What could possibly go wrong?

* Focus on the Family founder James Dobson was supposed to be retiring, but the far-right activist launched a new radio show this week on 326 U.S. stations.

* And last weekend, Janet Porter, a prominent religious right activist, and her Faith 2 Action outfit, hosted a May Day 2010 prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Organizers expected 8,000 attendees, including some political figures. Only a few hundred people showed up. Porter nevertheless suggested that her failed event may have been responsible for stopping the failed Times Square car bombing.