First up from the God Machine this week is a stunning comment from an evangelical minister who apparently believes Christianity immunizes people from the flu. Politico reported this week:
Texas minister Gloria Copeland, who sat on the Trump campaign's evangelical executive advisory board, denied the country is in the midst of a severe flu outbreak in a Facebook video that went viral because, "Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu.""We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don't have a flu season and don't receive it when someone threatens you with 'everybody is getting the flu,'" Copeland added. "We've already had our shot: He bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases. That's what we stand on. And by his stripes we are healed."
Right off the bat, let's note that public-health officials would probably discourage people from relying on supernatural treatments in response to virus outbreaks, and that Copeland's comments during an especially brutal flu season were irresponsible.
Making matters slightly worse, Right Wing Watch explained that Copeland's Texas megachurch was at the center of a measles outbreak in 2013 "that was attributed to the church’s belief that congregants can forego vaccines because Jesus will protect them from illness." In other words, Copeland probably ought to know better.
But perhaps most striking from a political perspective is that Copeland isn't just some fringe figure with no influence among those in power. On the contrary, Copeland and her husband, Kenneth Copeland, both served as members of Donald Trump's evangelical advisory panel in 2016, alongside the likes of Michele Bachmann, Ralph Reed, James Dobson, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell, Jr.
For the record, it's not too late to get a flu shot if you haven't already had one.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Donald Trump said at the National Prayer Breakfast this week that faith "is central to American life," which probably came as something of a surprise to the millions of Americans who self-identify as atheists or agnostics,
* On a related note, New York's Ed Kilgore read The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography so I don't have to.
* And in case Notre Dame's position on birth-control coverage wasn't quite confusing enough, the university has apparently altered its policy once again.