This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is a breakthrough development in the often-ignored area of houses of worship and loaded firearms.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law one of the more controversial bills from the recent legislative session, one allowing guns to be carried into houses of worship. […]

[Republican State Rep. Henry] Burns’ bill would authorize persons who qualified to carry concealed weapons having passed the training and background checks to bring them to churches, mosques, synagogues or other houses of worship as part of a security force.

The pastor or head of the religious institution must announce verbally or in weekly newsletters or bulletins that there will be individuals armed on the property as members of the security force. Those chosen have to undergo eight hours of tactical training each year.

It’s not especially common for houses of worship to operate with armed, state-sanctioned “security forces,” but I suppose modern standards are changing.

The issue is not unique to Louisiana — Louisville pastor Ken Pagano of the New Bethel Church invited his congregation to bring their firearms to church last year — but the Pelican State appears to be the first to tackle the issue with a new statewide law.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is still trying to mend fences with the religious right after his recent suggestion that there be a “truce” in the culture wars. This week, however, a radio interview emerged that showed the extent to which Daniels already agrees with the far-right movement on some key issues. Condemning atheism, for example, Daniels said, “[A]theism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists — Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth — because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.”

* Where would Jesus drill? “Religious leaders who consider environmental protection a godly mission are making the Gulf of Mexico oil spill a rallying cry, hoping it inspires people of faith to support cleaner energy while changing their personal lives to consume less and contemplate more.” Walt Grazer, head of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, told the AP, “This is one of those rare moments when you can really focus people’s attention on what’s happening to God’s creation.”

* And still more developments in the Roman Catholic Church’s scandal involving the sexual abuse of children: “Police are investigating accusations that the former archbishop of Belgium knew of sexual abuse in the church but failed to stop it, the Belgian prosecutor’s office told CNN Tuesday. Cardinal Godfried Danneels was archbishop of Belgium for more than 30 years before he stepped down in January.” (thanks to reader D.J. for the tip)