First up from the God Machine this week is a second look at the Republicans' presidential debate on Thursday night, with a specific focus on matters of faith.
In his opening remarks, for example, Ted Cruz noted that Iowans "have welcomed my dad to preach at your churches." As Time magazine explained, Marco Rubio was far less subtle.
When asked to explain how is trailing Donald Trump in the polls despite being hailed as the "Republican savior" by TIME Magazine, Rubio cited a savior he feels trumps them all.
"Let me be clear about one thing, there's only one savior and it's not me," he said. "It's Jesus Christ who came down to Earth and died for our sins."
As if that weren't quite enough, Rubio made multiple additional references to "Judeo-Christian values," his own personal faith, and the senator's closing statement was devoted to his belief that the Bible "commands us to let our light shine on the world." The Florida senator also made four separate references to the word "apocalypse," a word that carries its own theological significance.
At other points in the debate, Cruz talked about energy policy by saying, "I think God has blessed this country with enormous natural resources, and we should pursue all of the above"; Rand Paul referenced British theologian Os Guinness; and John Kasich said in reference to mental-health treatment, "When I study Scripture, I know that people who live in the shadows need to have a chance."
There's no great mystery here. As Time's report added, "nearly 60% of caucus-goers in 2012 identified as born-again or evangelical Christians."
Whether Iowa Republicans appreciated the faith-based politicking or got annoyed by ham-handed religious pandering will become clearer in a couple of days.
Also from the God Machine this week: