As "This Week in God" settles in on Saturday mornings, the God Machine has plenty to offer again this week.
First up is a look at religious right activism surrounding the upcoming "Day of Silence," an annual anti-bullying event, intended to protest and raise awareness of harassment against LGBT students. As Hunter at Daily Kos noted, "This is of course intolerable to the people who do the most harassing, and so the day is met each year with a counter-event held by far-right religious folks holding the Day of Dialogue, which used to be the Day of Truth."
It's not yet a high-profile culture war issue along the lines of abortion rights or marriage equality, but in the religious right, efforts to combat bullying in schools and colleges represent a major concern -- social conservatives are perfectly comfortable with the idea of LGBT youths facing intense pressure from their peers, and fear anti-bullying measures will make anti-gay harassment less likely.
Right Wing Watch reported this week that Focus on the Family, true to form, is taking the lead in pushing back against the Day of Silence.
Religious Right activists are reviving their anti-anti-bullying campaign by attacking April 20th’s Day of Silence, an annual event when students protest bullying and anti-LGBT bias. Religious Right groups are once again promoting Focus on the Family's Day of Dialogue, a counter event scheduled for the previous day. Candi Cushman of Focus on the Family on Friday joined Janet Mefferd to warn about how the Day of Silence "crosses the line in a lot of ways beyond bullying into indoctrination, just promoting homosexuality and transgenderism." Mefferd, delighted that the Day of Dialogue would stand opposed to the "deluge" of "gay propaganda," was especially startled by the idea that gay rights advocates wanted same-sex couples to be allowed to participate in proms.
As social conservatives are encouraged to speak out against anti-bullying efforts, expect this to become a more prominent area of the culture war in the coming years.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Gallup reported this week on the nation's most and least religious states, with Mississippi and Utah having the highest percentage of "very religious" residents, while Vermont and New Hampshire tied for the least religious. The Deep South (the so-called "Bible Belt") dominated the former category, while New England dominated the latter.
* The Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world's largest Christian network, is "embroiled in a legal battle involving allegations of massive financial fraud and lavish spending, including the purchase of a $100,000 motor home for family dogs" (thanks to reader R.M. for the tip).
* msnbc's "Up with Chris Hayes" hosted a lengthy discussion on atheism in America last week, coinciding with the Reason Rally in D.C. a week ago. Start here, but don't miss related segments on the subject.
* And on "The 700 Club" this week, viewers were shown a segment about a man who tried to "change" his sexuality by marrying a woman, but nevertheless kept having gay affairs. TV preacher Pat Robertson said of the story, "I think it is somehow related to demonic possession." He wasn't kidding. It's the 21st century; I just thought I'd mention that.