U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Ia., July 18, 2015. 
Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

This Week in God, 10.29.16

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at an interview Donald Trump did this week with the Eternal Word Television Network (or EWTN), which airs Roman Catholic programming to an international audience. The Republican presidential candidate sat down in Miami with anchor Raymond Arroyo, who asked a question I hadn’t heard before.

Much of the interview touched on familiar topics – Trump continued to blast the women who’ve accused him of sexual misconduct, for example – but given the network’s faith-based focus, much of the discussion focused on religious and social issues, including the GOP nominee’s ongoing criticism of the Johnson Amendment from 1954.

On a more personal note, Arroyo asked Trump, “When you pray, what do you pray for?” The candidate responded, “I don’t want to talk to you about that. I mean, I pray. It’s very personal to me. I’m a person of belief, but I certainly, you know, I pray for my family. I pray for our country. But I don’t want to talk to you about that.”

It was soon followed by the anchor asking if Trump has a favorite saint.
TRUMP: Well, I think that if you look – Mother Teresa, who’s probably our newest, is great.

ARROYO: Yeah, correct.

TRUMP: And John Paul – Pope John Paul, I thought, was terrific.

ARROYO: Why?

TRUMP: Because he had something special. He had a special something.
I’m going to assume Trump was referring to Pope John Paul II, not Pope John Paul I, whose tenure only lasted a month in 1978.

Though there’s some debate as to how many Catholic saints there are, the Republican presidential hopeful appears to have picked two of three most recently canonized saints as his favorites.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* The non-profit InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA has asked its employees to “volunteer” whether they disagree with the organization’s belief that all sexual activity outside of “traditional” marriage is immoral. Those who come forward to acknowledge their support for marriage equality, for example, will be “involuntarily terminated.”

* The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis this week elected “the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, director of networking in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, was elected on the second ballot during a diocesan convention held at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis on Friday.”

* Baby steps? “Mormon leaders have a message for lesbian and gay members of their religious community: You’re welcomed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ― just don’t fall in love and out of line.”

* Those of you familiar with “Chick Tracts” author Jack Chick will be interested to know the controversial fundamentalist evangelist died last week at the age of 92: “In a career that spanned 50 years, Chick created more than 250 tracts that reached as many as 800 million people, according to ComicsAlliance.”