First up from the God Machine this week is one of the more intriguing quotes from TV preacher Pat Robertson I've seen in a long while.
On his nationally televised show on Monday, Robertson complained that Facebook does not offer a "vomit" option alongside "like" when it comes to pictures of same-sex couples. On Thursday, however, the Republican televangelist insisted, "We are not anti-gay."
How can a man who's made a living hating gay people say he's not "anti-gay"? Because, as Right Wing Watch reported, Robertson apparently believes gay people are really just confused straight people, so there's nothing to hate.
He claimed that people are gay "because they have forsaken God, it's not something that is natural and when people reunite with the Lord, the Lord will get their priorities the way it is supposed to be." [...]He argued that many gay people are simply straight but are confused due to child abuse: "A lot of people are into this homosexual thing because they've been abused...."Robertson maintained it may be possible the some gay people "maybe got some chromosomal damage that's different from heterosexuals," and concluded by calling for another ex-gay ministry to emerge "to help people who want out."
It's worth pausing to realize that as recently as mid-September 2012, Robertson's influence was significant enough in GOP politics that he had a private meeting with the Republican Party's presidential candidate.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* As a growing percentage of the American population chooses not to identify with any faith tradition, a large percentage of the country isn't happy about it. A report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 48% of Americans say the growing number of non-religious people is "bad for society."
* In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court upheld a conviction this week of a mother and father who were convicted of homicide for praying instead of seeking medical help as their daughter died. The state has a law offering immunity provisions for prayer treatment, but in the 6-1 ruling, the court said that applied to child-abuse charges but nothing else.
* A software entrepreneur in Oregon offered an unconventional defense for tax evasion this week, saying he can't pay income taxes without breaking his "blood covenant" with God. For some reason, the federal judge found this unpersuasive and sentenced the accused to eight years in prison (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* And in St. Louis, there's been a contentious debate in recent weeks over the use of Christian symbols being etched into the pitcher's mound at Busch Stadium. The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Monday that the practice has been discontinued (thanks to my colleague Kent Jones for the tip).