THIS WEEK IN GOD…. The God Machine this week focuses on one specific faith-related trend, specifically the often-overlooked element of the renewed culture war following Republican gains in 2010.

GOP efforts, on the federal and state level, related to restricting abortion and gay rights are well documented, but less well known is the Republican drive to undermine modern biology. The National Center for Science Education reported this week that, so far this year, nine states have begun work on anti-evolution measures — a record high so early in the calendar year. (thanks to D.J. for the tip)

In Texas, for example, GOP policymakers are moving forward with a measure to protect creationists from “discrimination,” especially creationists who hope to spread their beliefs in classrooms. From the bill:

“An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member’s or student’s conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.”

Just to provide a little context here, in Texas, it would be legal to fire workers for being gay or a single parent, but if science teachers refused to stick to science, they’d be protected.

An effort in Florida is nearly as ridiculous.

Florida GOP State Senator Stephen Wise is drawing fire with a legislative proposal that would require schools in the Sunshine State to dramatically change the way evolution is addressed in the classroom, primarily by requiring the teaching of an alternative he calls “non-evolution.”

According to his legislation, public school teachers would have to “teach a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution” to students.

“Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?” Wise, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Yes, the chairman of the education committee doesn’t understand why teachers can’t just provide students with facts and pseudo-facts simultaneously. No word yet on whether he expects science teachers to teach heliocentricism and geocentrism “at the same time,” or whether it’d be a good idea to teach gravity and “non-gravity.”

And in the larger context, it’s also worth noting that the GOP intention to focus primarily on the economy appears to have been quickly and completely forgotten.

Update: I neglected to mention that in the nine states in which anti-evolution measures are advancing, all nine have Republican majorities. It’s not a coincidence.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.