First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the kind of defense Donald Trump's evangelical Christian allies are offering in the wake of the president's Stormy Daniels scandal.
Helping lead the defense is far-right megachurch leader Robert Jeffress -- a familiar name to regular readers -- who first rose to national political prominence during the 2012 presidential campaign, when he partnered with then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) candidacy and attacked Mitt Romney as "a member of a cult."
Much of the country soon became acquainted with the Texan's record of over-the-top extremism, including his description of Roman Catholicism as a "cult-like pagan religion," which represents "the genius of Satan."
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said to associate with Robert Jeffress was "beneath the office of president of the United States."
Donald Trump, however, has embraced Jeffress as a close ally, and the megachurch pastor has returned the favor.
"Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star," Robert Jeffress told Fox News on Thursday. "However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him."
Jeffress, who is an evangelical adviser to the president, said Trump's personal behavior isn't an issue. "Evangelicals knew they weren't voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump," he said.
Let's pause to note that anytime a prominent Christian evangelist begins an argument by saying, "Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However..." the sentence probably won't end well.
Nevertheless, in the same interview, Jeffress emphasized his bond with his ally in the White House. "I'm his friend," he said. "I will never walk away."
This is not an uncommon sentiment among Christian conservatives. In January, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the religious right and the movement's adherents agree that Trump should "get a mulligan" when it comes to his personal misdeeds.