First up from the God Machine this week is a look at one of Donald Trump's most steadfast evangelical allies, whose perspective on the president has to be seen to be believed.
Jerry Falwell Jr., who leads Liberty University and whom Trump reportedly considered to lead the Department of Education, is as loyal a Trump ally as the most sycophantic Republican members of Congress. But when Falwell sat down with the Washington Post recently, he went into detail on the scope of his support for the Republican president.
POST: Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?FALWELL: No.POST: That's the shortest answer we've had so far.FALWELL: Only because I know that he only wants what's best for this country, and I know anything he does, it may not be ideologically "conservative," but it's going to be what's best for this country, and I can't imagine him doing anything that's not good for the country.
In other words, in a rather literal sense, Falwell believes Trump can do no wrong. His support for the president is complete and unshakable.
The prominent leader in the religious right movement added that it "may be immoral" for Trump's evangelical critics "not to support him."
Falwell did not appear to be kidding.
There's a fair amount of evidence that suggests Trump's single most loyal constituency are politically conservative evangelical Christians, who are unconcerned with the president's rampant dishonesty, sex scandals and adultery, casinos, and secularism.
It's a difficult perspective to understand, which makes Falwell's unflinching support for the president that much more notable: it's a peek behind a confusing curtain, offering insights into those who believe Trump wants what's best for the country, so everything he attempts necessarily should be seen as good for the country.
In the same interview, Falwell added, "Think about it. Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need around the world than any other country in history? It's because of free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurism and wealth. A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It's just common sense to me."
I guess some people approach Christian principles in very different ways.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Facebook recently banned Franklin Graham for one day after concluding that he used "dehumanizing language" toward transgender Americans in an item published in 2016. This week, the social-media giant apologized and restored his content.
* As the new Congress gets to work, its historic diversity isn't limited to gender, race, and ethnicity: this group of federal lawmakers has more non-Christians than any previous Congress.
* Speaking of religion and Congress, the U.S. House voted this week to keep Father Patrick J. Conroy in his role as House chaplain. In April 2018, then-Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to fire Conroy for reasons that were never fully explained.
* And for what it's worth, when a megachurch pastor posts a video online about the $200,000 Lamborghini SUV he gave his wife as an anniversary gift, he probably shouldn't be too surprised by the criticism that follows.