First up from the God Machine this week is a report on the Values Voter Summit, the nation's largest annual gathering for the religious right movement, which began yesterday in D.C. Despite the truly nutty organizers and guest list, the VVS welcomed a lengthy list of notable Republican speakers, including Paul Ryan and a video address from Mitt Romney.
Of particular interest, though, was a man who calls himself Kamal Saleem. His self-assigned title: "former terrorist."
He had all kinds of unique insights to share, but I found this one especially interesting. According to Saleem, whose real name is Khodor Shami, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently working with Islamic countries and the United Nations to "subjugate American people to be arrested and put to jail and their churches and synagogues shut down." All of this, he said, will happen early next year -- March, at the latest.
Values Voter Summit attendees, instead of turning to one another and asking, "What on earth is this strange man talking about?" actually cheered Saleem's bizarre conspiracy theories.
As Rachel noted on the show last night, this is the same right-wing activist who says President Obama is secretly praying Islamic prayers when it looks like he's pledging allegiance to the American flag; insists Americans will be "wearing rag heads" if immigration reform is approved; and argues that the Roe v. Wade precedent leads to "Sharia law."
Right Wing Watch added, "We have been covering the absurd, bizarre and paranoid rantings of phony ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem as he emerged on the Religious Right scene, and today he had his biggest platform yet at the Values Voter Summit, where he was preceded by Ohio congressman Jim Jordan and a video message by Mitt Romney."
Joining this fake former terrorist on the guest list is the Republican presidential nominee, the Republican vice presidential nominee, two sitting Republican governors, two sitting Republican U.S. senators, and six sitting Republican U.S. House members, including the House Majority Leader.
I hope I'm not the only one who finds this rather disconcerting.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, joined a group of 102 other faith leaders this week urging Republican governors to drop their opposition to the Affordable Care Act and accept the law's Medicaid expansion. "Depriving struggling families of healthcare is wholly incompatible with the teachings of our faiths and the ideals of our nation," the statement reads.
* Though historically the divisions between Christians and Muslims in Kenya have been minimal, the "veneer of tolerance" has been "ripped open recently," with at least five churches, including the Christian Salvation Army in the poor Muslim district of Majengo, facing attacks this year (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* And President Obama released a new video this week recognizing Rosh Hashnah and Yom Kippur.