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This Week in God, 3.26.16

Remember when some presidential candidates suggested religious tests for refugees? This week, a Republican senator proposed codifying the idea in federal law.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., heads to the Senate subway following a vote in the Capitol on Jan. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., heads to the Senate subway following a vote in the Capitol on Jan. 8, 2015.
First up from the God Machine this week is a congressional effort to codify a policy that helps refugees of one religion, but not another.
Last fall, a variety of Republican leaders and presidential candidates suggested a refugee policy in which the United States favored Christians, but not Muslims, fleeing ISIS and Syria's civil war. ThinkProgress noted this week, however, that one GOP senator has taken the extra step of introducing federal legislation related to the idea.

In an interview with radio host Kevin Miller on Tuesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) spoke about his new bill to make it much easier for Christians and other religious minorities fleeing ISIS-related violence to resettle in the United States. "I think the U.S. has a moral imperative to try and save these Christians and the other small minority groups," he said. "So I would create a special kind of visa program that wouldn't take any access away from anyone else in the United States, but would recognize that Christians -- like Jews in the Soviet Union -- are being singled out for persecution and elimination. That's in our interest, as it is in combating the Islamic State."

To be sure, the barbarism ISIS has shown towards Christians and the Yezidis is heartbreaking. It's also true, however, that most of ISIS's victims have been Muslims, many of whom have fled their homes in search of refuge.
And when U.S. officials have taken steps to offer protections for Muslim Syrian refugees running from ISIS, Tom Cotton has helped lead the opposition.
In November, responding to arguments from Republicans, President Obama argued, "When I hear folks say that well maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who's fleeing from a war torn country is admitted ... that's shameful. That's not American, that's not who we are."
Cotton's bill, introduced this week, does not yet have any co-sponsors.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* What a week it was: "For the Jews of Belgium, Wednesday should have been the happiest day on the calendar. Purim, normally the most raucous and joyful Jewish holiday, began Wednesday at sundown. But this year, there was no merriment in Brussels. The day after terrorist attacks killed at least 31 people and injured 270 more, Jewish congregations in Brussels decided that celebrating Purim would not be appropriate — or safe."
* Sikh cartoonist Vishavjit Singh, also known as Sikh Captain America, "recently launched a campaign to send a postcard to Donald Trump every day until the election, and he’s inviting others to join him."
* This story, out of Colorado, is a familiar but fascinating tale: "Some Delta parents are in an uproar that atheist and satanic literature will be distributed in Delta County high schools and middle schools on April 1st" (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the heads-up).
* Quite a sight this holiday weekend: "They came from Mali, Eritrea, Syria and Pakistan. They were Muslim, Hindu, Catholic and Coptic Christians. And one by one, Pope Francis knelt down before these migrants on Holy Thursday and washed their feet."