Republican U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz attends a Penn. campaign kickoff event held on N.Y. presidential primary night at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Penn. on April 19, 2016.
Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

This Week in God, 4.30.16

First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected reaction to one of the week’s more memorable political quotes.
Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) raised a few eyebrows this week when he told an audience that he considers Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.” The Texas senator didn’t care for the comment, and neither did Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
But perhaps no one was less pleased with the comment than, of all people, Satanists. The Huffington Post reported:
Is there, indeed, something satanic to the senator? Do Republicans in Congress see the dark threads of Luciferianism in their colleague from Texas?
To get to the bottom of this, HuffPost called up Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple. His response was that Boehner was basically full of it, trying to absolve the worst of Christianity by calling him a product of Satanism. 
“It is past time we stop blaming the activities of the upholders of the Christian faith on a Satanic philosophy,” Greaves told the Huffington Post. “Boehner is trying to convey that if it is bad and he disagrees with it, it is of Satan and Lucifer, and if it is of good, it is of Christ. That is what is problematic with the Christian ideology.”
The Hill added a day later, “A leading Satanist group is trying to distance itself from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after the presidential candidate was compared to Lucifer.”
“Cruz’s failures of reason, compassion, decency and humanity are products of his Christian pandering, if not an actual Christian faith,” Lucien Greaves said on Thursday, according to The Friendly Atheist.
Boehner probably had no idea this kind of reaction was coming, but all things considered, Satanists were probably more bothered by the “Lucifer” line than Cruz was.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Congress currently has zero atheist members, but Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) is likely to be elected to the U.S. House this year, and if so, he’ll be the first.
* Add Missouri to the list of states where the far-right is pushing a “religious liberty” bill to protect discrimination: “For more than four hours, stretching past midnight, religious leaders, business executives, LGBT advocates and others took turns making their cases to the committee on the impact of amending the state’s constitution to protect certain individuals and businesses that cite religious beliefs to deny service to same-sex couples.” The low point: state Sen. Bob Onder (R) introducing the Martin Niemoller post Nazi-era text into the debate.
* These two seemed to get along well: “[I]t may be a sign of the shifting dynamics in the Catholic Church that [Vice President Biden] was welcomed on Friday to the Vatican to address a church-sponsored conference on cutting-edge therapies to treat diseases such as cancer, and he was warmly greeted by the local bishop of Rome, aka Pope Francis.” Biden, it’s worth noting for context, is the first Roman Catholic in American history to serve as vice president.