This Week in God, 3.29.14

What we're watching 9/20
What we're watching 9/20
First up from the God Machine this week is a look at some faith-based comments from Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who seemed to make an unfortunate comparison in a notable interview.
O'Reilly, who recently published "Killing Jesus," spoke with the Washington Post's Sally Quinn about his book and his perspective on spiritual matters. And while that wouldn't ordinarily be noteworthy, towards the end of the interview, Quinn noted, "You dedicated your book to those who love their neighbors as themselves. I thought a lot of the O'Reilly haters would be surprised to see that dedication."
The Fox host replied:

"They'll never read it, though. The O'Reilly haters are pretty much the people that have no idea what I do. And I like that -- I mean, I don't have any problem with people disliking me, and I'll tell you why. I'm not comparing myself, but who was the most hated person in Judea 2,000 years ago? "Many, many loved him, but just as many despised him. They're always going to do that. If you speak your mind, you're going to have some who like you and some who hate you."

As a rule, people who compare themselves to Jesus are just asking for trouble. What's more, prefacing the comparison by saying, "I'm not comparing myself" does not mean the comparison didn't happen.
TPM joked in response, "Bill O'Reilly isn't comparing himself to Jesus -- oh wait, yes he is."
Also from the God Machine this week:
* As private-school voucher programs have become more common, Stephanie Simon reports this week that the result is nearly $1 billion in taxpayer subsidies to "hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies." Because the schools are private institutions, there is no public accountability  for their curricula, even as they're subsidized with public funds.
* World Vision U.S., one of the nation's largest charities, "set off an uproar" this week when it said it would hire Christians in same-sex marriages. It led to a quick backlash from "prominent evangelical leaders as a 'disaster' and a devil-inspired betrayal of biblical morality."
* A new Hollywood biblical epic, Noah, opened in theaters nationwide yesterday, drawing criticism from religious groups claiming the filmmakers took liberties with the source material.
* Speaking of the entertainment world, pastor Kevin Swanson, who gained national notoriety accusing the movie Frozen of trying to turn children gay, is now arguing it and related films "are the means that children are led into witchcraft."
* A remarkable story about a Christian elementary school in Virginia: "Sports, sneakers, and short hair; it's what makes eight year old Sunnie Kahle unique. It's also what had her removed from Timberlake Christian School. Her grandparents pulled the plug on her time there after they said she was no longer welcome. The family received a letter telling them that if their eight year old granddaughter didn't follow the school's 'biblical standards,' that she'd be refused enrollment next year. She's out and in public school now" (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* Pope Francis this week accepted Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst's resignation, after the bishop of Limburg drew widespread criticism for his "extravagant spending on renovations for his personal residence."
* In related news, Atlanta's Roman Catholic archdiocese has sparked a similar debate after it spent over $4 million on two residences, including one for the local archbishop.
* And in Carroll County, Maryland, a federal judge instructed a local official to stop hosting Christian prayers at the start of public meetings. One county commissioner, Robin Frazier, nevertheless defied the court order and said she's "willing to go do jail" in order to keep mixing her religious beliefs with her public duties.