THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected faith-based move from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), which is already raising eyebrows.

This week, Perry reached out to the federal government for disaster assistance, despite years of anti-government rhetoric and even talk of secession, as fires do significant damage in many parts of the state. Yesterday, however, the governor aimed higher, and urged Texans to ask God to help put their fires out.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my Office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 21st day of April, 2011.

Perry is generally worried about government interfering in the lives of the people, but he doesn’t mind using the power of his office to encourage his constituents to pray for rain.

Theologically, this is a bit odd. Indeed, Paul Waldman questioned why “our politicians have to have such an infantile view of the way this just and loving deity’s universe is supposed to be ordered.”

The theory here seems to be that up until now God has been angry at Texas, or perhaps indifferent to Texas’ plight, water-wise. So if enough Texans pray over the next three days, it’ll basically be like everyone waving at once, saying, “Hey, God! A little help here!” Whereupon, God will say, “Oh — Texas! I forgot you guys were there!” And then he’ll say, “Well, I had this plan that stretches from here until the end of time, and the drought played a small but significant part in that plan…but heck, since you all prayed so nicely, here’s some rain.”

Of course, the situation in Texas is obviously dire, and a state-endorsed weekend prayer session might not cut it. Can animal sacrifice on the state capitol steps be far behind?

Also from the God Machine this week:

* The White House goes all out this time of year to honor seasonal religious holidays, including a new tradition of a Passover Seder hosted by President Obama, an official White House Easter egg roll, and a prayer breakfast with Christian leaders from across the country.

* Fox News wants viewers to believe there’s a “War on Easter.” (Hint: there is no such war.)

* And a leading creationist group has begun arguing that teaching evolutionary biology in public school science classes is connected to “homosexual indoctrination.”

Steve Benen

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.