This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is an unfortunate reminder that, for all the strides we’ve made as a country on religious pluralism, we still have a ways to go.

Not only are Muslims being viewed with a skeptical eye in Congress, but adults nationwide appear to be wary of fellow Americans who are Muslim, according to a new Gallup poll.

The results offer a surprising view of just how suspicious Americans are of not only Islam in general, but of Muslims living within the United States. The poll was released the same day that House hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, led by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) got off to a highly emotional start.

Gallup posed a number of questions about Muslims living in America, including one which asked respondents if American Muslims were “supportive of the United States.” A narrow 53% majority agreed that American Muslims overall supported the nation, while 32% said that was not the case.

There was a partisan divide evident in the data — 43% of Republicans believe Muslim Americans support America, while 59% of Democrats believe it — but the results are obviously discouraging in either case.

The country has gone through similar periods with other minority faith groups, but that’s cold comfort. When a third of the country questions a group’s patriotism based solely on the group’s faith tradition, there’s a problem.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* An online faith community is urging two Christian radio station in New York to “give up Glenn Beck for Lent,” citing his “caustic remarks, fear-mongering and bigotry.”

* Based on a bizarre interpretation of Romans 13, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) insisted this week that Jesus Christ would have approved of Rep. Peter King’s (R-N.Y.) investigation singling out the Muslim-American community.

* The Roman Catholic Church’s international scandal involving the sexual abuse of children took another turn this week, with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia suspending 21 priests “in connection with accusations that involved sexual abuse or otherwise inappropriate behavior with minors.” The suspensions, the largest for the church in American history, comes on the heels of a grand jury report accusing the archdiocese of “a widespread cover-up of predatory priests, stretching over decades.”

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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.