This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is additional fallout in Oklahoma, where voters recently passed a constitutional amendment to fight sharia-law measures that don’t exist. Last week, legal experts discovered that the language of the amendment is broad enough to prohibit consideration of the Ten Commandments.

This week, we learned that the state law, currently on hold by court order, also inadvertently undermines Native-American faiths.

Oklahoma has the second largest population of Native Americans in the U.S and law experts like Oklahoma University law professor Taiawagi Helton point out that language in the law banning courts from looking at “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” could pose a problem if applied to tribal legal cases, as the tribes are considered sovereign nations.

In fact, the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission released an official memo on October 20 explaining how the “lack of specific tribal law language” could “damage the sovereignty of all Oklahoma tribes” and “starkly reminds [the Commission] that some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood, and back of other nations and cultures, namely, ou[r] tribes.”

Oklahoma also appears to have accidentally undermined state businesses that rely on “international treaties to uphold contracts.”

Right-wing activists really just wanted to undermine Muslim Americans, but weren’t quite sharp enough to recognize the collateral damage of their bigotry.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has agreed to display a Nativity Scene at the governor’s mansion in Richmond, following a request from the Catholic League. The group’s leader, Bill Donohue, reportedly sent Nativity Scenes to all 50 governors as part of an effort to counter the “atheists [who] are out in force this year trying to neuter Christmas.”

* Speaking of atheists, the New York Times reported this week that “four separate and competing national organizations representing various streams of atheists, humanists and freethinkers will soon be spreading their gospel through advertisements on billboards, buses and trains, and in newspapers and magazines.” (thanks to D.J. for the tip)

* Radical pastor Philip L. “Flip” Benham, head of the Dallas-based Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, was found guilty this week of stalking North Carolina physicians who perform abortions. Benham was sentenced to two years probation.

* And American Roman Catholic bishops are wrapping up a conference in Baltimore today, helping clergy members to learn how to distinguish between those who need exorcisms and those who need a psychiatrist. The bishops insist this is not part of a larger effort to revive the practice of exorcisms, which has largely fallen out of favor in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.