First up from the God Machine this week is a religio-political story out of Oklahoma that's more amusing than most.
A Ten Commandments monument is up on the grounds of the state Capitol, but it didn't pass spell check."Remember the Sabbeth day, to keep it holy," reads one."Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidseruent," reads the last one.
Obviously, the Ten Commandments monument is itself problematic as a matter of constitutional law and the separation of church and state. Though the religious display was financed with private funds, its placement on the grounds of the state Capitol suggests officials are endorsing one faith's religious text over all others -- and legally, government is supposed to be neutral on matters of religion, not playing favorites.
What's more, note that Oklahoma's state-endorsed religious display uses the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments, not the Catholic or Jewish versions, and no other tradition's tenets will receive equal treatment.
But even putting the legality aside, it didn't occur to folks to check the spelling of the Ten Commandments? It's one thing to fail to read the Constitution or court rulings on church-state separation, but it's another to fail to read the sacred text you're trying to promote.
Those responsible for the granite monument have promised to fix the errors.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* A discouraging court ruling last night: "A federal judge Friday night sided with a Christian publishing company in a lawsuit against the requirement included in Obamacare to provide co-pay free contraception to employees. US District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton issued a temporary stay on the rule. The company, Tyndale House Publishers, sued to be exempt from providing any contraception it equated with abortion, including Plan B and intrauterine devices (neither is actually an abortifacient)."
* The Rev. Franklin Graham claimed this week that President Obama only won because "evangelicals did not go to the polls." In reality, evangelical turnout went up as compared to 2008, and they voted Republican in greater numbers than four years ago.
* As if Oklahoma's Ten Commandments display weren't troubling enough, a state judge this week ordered a teenager accused of manslaughter to attend church services every Sunday for 10 years (thanks to reader E.W. for the tip).
* Voters in Florida crushed Amendment 8, a ballot measure that would have allowed state officials to use public funds to subsidize religious ministries. Despite the enthusiastic support of the religious right and Roman Catholic leaders, the measure lost 61 of the state's 67 counties en route to an 11-point defeat.
* Note to those using "Jesus" as an online password: it's one of the "most frequently used and easily guessable log-in phrases" (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* And radical TV preacher Pat Robertson excused David Petraeus' sex scandal this week, arguing that the former CIA director is "a man" who was overcome by "a good-looking lady throwing herself at him."