This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is a setback for the Dove World Outreach Center, the radical Florida church that plans to commemorate Sept. 11 with a Koran-burning ceremony.

Turns out there’s one thing they weren’t counting on: a local Fire Department that’s stingy with outdoor fire permits.

According to the Gainesville Sun, fire chief Gene Prince told the church “that under the city’s fire prevention ordinance, an open burning of books is not allowed.” Turns out town code 10-63, a “General prohibition on outdoor burning and open burning,” specifically outlaws the burning of (section 6) “Newspaper” and (7) “Corrugated cardboard, container board, office paper.”

Apparently, bound copies of Islam’s holy text fall into those categories.

As of yesterday, Dove World didn’t seem especially fazed by the setback. In an email to supporters, it announced: “City of Gainesville denies burn permit — BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS.” [all caps in the original]

Local officials have said the fundamentalist outfit could face fines if it moves forward with its fire party without a permit, which could be a problem — the church is already facing significant debt, including an inability to pay its $140,000 mortgage.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* A Missouri law banning protests near any funerals, processions, or memorial services — intended to discourage the disgusting Westboro Baptist Church — was ruled unconstitutional this week by a federal judge.

* The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously this week that the state of Utah cannot legally erect 12-foot crosses on public land to honor troopers who died in the line of duty. While the state tried to argue that the Christian cross could be seen as a secular symbol — seriously — the three-judge panel disagreed, concluding that the displays reflected government preference for Christianity. (Of the three judges who heard the case, two were appointed by Reagan, the other by George W. Bush.)

* The Roman Catholic Church’s international scandal involving the sexual abuse of children continues to spark new litigation. The latest suit involves seven church victims in California. (thanks to D.J. for the tip)

* The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer now believes the war in Iraq was a failure — because the United States failed to turn Iraq into a Christian nation.

* If U.S. troops faced punishment for not attending a Christian concert at a U.S. Army post in Virginia, that’s a serious problem. (thanks to J.B. for the tip)

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.