This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is an interesting initiative being launched by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), the founder and leader of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who doesn’t much care for the separation of church and state. Forbes isn’t just pushing prayer resolutions on Capitol Hill; he has plans to take his show on the road.

Now Forbes has set up a nonprofit Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation to raise money to franchise the prayer-caucus concept to state legislatures. These affiliates will exist to monitor and oppose legislation, agency rulings and court opinions that uphold church-state separation. Mississippi has already signed on, and Virginia and Florida are working on it.

Forbes discussed his plans with James Dobson on Friday’s Family Talk broadcast, Dobson’s radio show. (Dobson founded the Religious Right powerhouse Focus on the Family, but now seems to be building a new broadcasting empire.)

“The country is in a great deal of trouble and I just felt like we needed to do something about it,” said Dobson, who suggested that there is a growing assault on Christianity in America. Forbes, of course, agreed, claiming these state prayer caucuses will be a way to deal with these “attacks.”

It’s the same sad song the Religious Right always sings.

But we all know better. Forbes and Dobson aren’t concerned with threats to religion; they’re concerned with finding ways to impose their faith on others.

Coming soon to a state legislature near you. Something to keep an eye on.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* When the Catholic Health Association endorsed Democratic health care reform efforts earlier this year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops really wasn’t happy. Now that the USCCB has had time to reflect, the Bishops not only are still displeased, they’re blaming the CHA for the Affordable Care Act becoming law. “Sister Carol [Keehan] and her colleagues are to blame,” Cardinal Francis George is quoted as saying in a Catholic News Agency report this week. (thanks to reader D.J.)

* The American Values Network, a progressive faith organization, launched a cable news ad campaign this week, calling out Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for abandoning his commitment to a comprehensive climate/energy bill. Eric Sapp, the AVN’s executive director, said in a statement, “With Sen. Graham now abandoning bi-partisanship for precisely the type of energy bill he previously dismissed as ‘half-assed,’ it’s hard to understand how he maintains any credibility on what is doable on energy policy in this Congress.”

* And some in the religious right are apparently livid with the Obama White House for hosting a discussion two weeks ago on Interfaith Service Projects on college campuses, and inviting an atheist student group, the Secular Student Alliance, to participate. For some conservative activists, “Interfaith Service Projects” should effectively mean “No Atheists Need Apply.”