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This Week in God, 6.11.16

When a member of Congress talks about "moral values," that's normal. When she talks about protecting America from "the Philistines," it's something different.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., asks a question during a House Rules full committee meeting on the Iran nuclear program deal in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., asks a question during a House Rules full committee meeting on the Iran nuclear program deal in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015.
First up from the God Machine this week is a look at some of the more striking comments from the "Road to Majority" conference, which kicked off yesterday in D.C., sponsored by former lobbyist Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The annual gathering always offers an interesting peek into the state of the religious right political movement, and the conference's high-profile speakers -- Republicans looking for social conservatives' support are a staple of these events -- rarely miss the opportunity to feed theological red meat to the ravenous audience.
But Right Wing Watch flagged one quote -- along with a notable video clip -- that stood out for me.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., devoted her speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference [Friday] to telling activists not to lose faith in the political process and to remember that elected officials -- or, more specifically, Republican elected officials -- know that America needs a "moral and spiritual foundation in order to survive and thrive." She had a message for those who think that "politics is a dirty business": "If people of faith are not involved in political life, then you're leaving it to the Philistines. And I'm not willing to leave it to the Philistines."

Let's note for the record that there's no meaningful argument underway about whether or not "people of faith" should be "involved in political life." Among the nation's senators, governors, and congressional representatives, the grand total of self-identified atheists is currently zero. Religious people are not exactly struggling for representation in powerful elected offices.
But even putting that aside, Philistines? Let's assume the right-wing congresswoman wasn't referring to ancient Palestinians.
Instead, it's probably safe to say Foxx was complaining about those who are "smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, and aesthetic refinement." As she sees it, social conservatives have to engage in culture wars in order to prevent uninformed, uncultured secularists from dominating in the political sphere.
The kind of lessons one learns at the "Road to Majority" conference are simply without rival.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* What an interesting combination of events: "Less than an hour before he endorsed Donald Trump for president, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan sat down in his office in Janesville, Wisconsin with local Muslim leader Salih Erschen, the founder of the city's first mosque, and his 21-year-old daughter Sabrina."
* Thou shalt not covet: "Two screenwriters are suing the independent Christian movie studio Pure Flix, alleging that the company stole the plot of their 2014 smash God's Not Dead."
* I wonder how he'll respond: "A British social campaign group says it will hire a plane to fly a banner over Donald Trump's Scottish golf course inviting him to visit local mosques."
* Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) issued a proclamation recently celebrating an upcoming Bible-reading marathon in the state, which wouldn't be especially noteworthy except this specific resolution encourages "individuals and families in Iowa to read through the Bible on a daily basis each year until the Lord comes."
* I suppose these are the folks Virginia Foxx is worried about? "The fastest-growing religious group in America -- people with no religion at all -- may also be the nation's least powerful. A diffuse collection of secular humanists is working to change that."