First up from the God Machine this week is a look at a striking evangelical perspective on the suspected murder of Jamal Khashoggi from one of the nation's most infamous religious right leaders.
On Monday morning, TV preacher Pat Robertson told his "700 Club" audience that Khashoggi's apparent slaying is less significant than an arms deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia. As the estimable Kyle Mantyla reported at Right Wing Watch reported, Robertson returned to the subject a day later.
"We've got to cool the rhetoric," Robertson said. "Calls for sanctions and calls for punitive actions against the Saudis is ill-advised.... You've got a hundred billion dollars' worth of arms sales -- which is, you know, that's one of those things -- but more than that, we've got to have some Arab allies. We have to have it! We cannot alienate a biggest player in the Middle East who is a bulwark against Iran."
When Robertson's co-host Wendy Griffith argued that we cannot have governments killing critical journalists with impunity, Robertson dismissed those concerns.
"We've had so many people killed," he responded. "We've had CIA people killed in Lebanon. People have been taken hostage over the years. I know it's bad, but we've had all kinds of stuff, but you don't blow up an international alliance over one person. I mean, I'm sorry."
A few things. First, there is no $100 billion arms deal. Second, Robertson was perfectly willing to jeopardize an international alliance over one person when the person was a Christian evangelist in Turkey. Third, drawing a moral parallel between the United States and Saudi Arabia -- as if the two countries have comparable records on human rights -- is quite a departure from the right's usual approach to patriotism.
But even putting these relevant details aside, the televangelist's on-air comments were emblematic of just how far some evangelical Christians are prepared to go to defend Donald Trump's position. Christian principles about the value of human life are nice, but a multi-billion-dollar arms deal that doesn't really exist is, evidently, quite a bit nicer.
Stephen Colbert, dressed in a robe and a fake beard, did a great bit on his show this week, pointing to the Ten Commandments' prohibition on killing, and joking about its apparent asterisk: "Thou shalt not kill -- unless there's a lot of coinage on the table.... If that be the case, then the big guy upstairs is more than willing to look the other way."
It's worse, of course, given the fact that there isn't even a lot of coinage on the table.
Also from the God Machine this week: