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This Week in God

<p>As "This Week in God" settles in on Saturday mornings, the God Machine has plenty to offer again this week.First up is the latest

As "This Week in God" settles in on Saturday mornings, the God Machine has plenty to offer again this week.

First up is the latest nonsense from radical TV preacher Pat Robertson, who argued the other day that brutal tornadoes that sliced across the Midwest and the South should be blamed on the victims. Seriously, that's what he said.

As Brian Tashman reported, Robertson was asked on his "700 Club" program why God allowed the natural disaster to do so much harm, and the right-wing host offered a rather startling response.

He said that the storms weren't a malicious act of God and instead turned it around on the victims, asking, "why did you build houses where tornadoes were apt to happen?" [...]Robertson continued that the tornadoes may not have happened if people had prayed for divine intervention, "If enough people were praying He would've intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms." He also told people who live in areas prone to natural disasters that it's "their fault, not God's."

He did not appear to be kidding.

Incidentally, Robertson also caused a stir this week when he suggested that marijuana use should be legal, making this an odd week for the former Republican presidential candidate.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to members of Congress, urging them not to cut federal funding on safety-net programs, including investments in health care, Pell Grants, affordable housing, and food stamps. While Republican lawmakers take the Bishops' thoughts on contraception very seriously, GOP officials are expected to ignore the Bishops' appeals in this area.

* There's an interesting dispute in Bideford, England, where a move to end Christian prayers at public meetings has touched off a larger fight over "the question of whether Christianity should hold a privileged place in a modern, diverse and highly secular society" (thanks to reader V.S. for passing this along).

* And as Alyssa Rosenberg reported this week, TLC has cancelled a reality show called All American Muslim, which was at the center of a culture-war skirmish in which anti-Muslim activists pushed advertisers to drop their sponsorship of the program.