First up from the God Machine this week is a look at an unexpected project from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, which Donald Trump is probably going to like.
Liberty's political relevance has grown considerably in recent years, and the Republican president has taken several steps to cultivate a close relationship with the evangelical school in Virginia, including delivering its commencement address last year. Jerry Falwell Jr., meanwhile, has remained one of Trump's most steadfast supporters.
But the Washington Post reported this week that Liberty's affection for Trump is poised to reach a whole new level.
The question either infuriates or intrigues tens of millions of Americans: Did God play a role in the victory of Donald Trump? The debate will soon be presented in movie theaters across the country, as evangelical megaschool Liberty University is making and releasing a film called "The Trump Prophecy."The film, which will be released in 1,200 theaters this fall, is Liberty's largest production to date, and it pairs the university with an independent Christian filmmaker who raised $1 million for the project -- a sum its director says could double with postproduction and distribution costs.
A Vox report added that the film, which argues that Trump's presidency was divinely foretold, "tells the story of Florida firefighter Mark Taylor, who says that God told him that Donald Trump would become president."
Not everyone associated with the university is pleased. Just as a group of students and alumni denounced Liberty's pro-Trump posture ahead of the 2016 election, some Liberty alum have signed a petition calling on the school to cancel the project, describing it as "heretical."
Assuming those efforts are unsuccessful, "The Trump Prophecy" will reportedly be released later this year. I'd put the odds of Trump tweeting about it at roughly 100%.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Keep in mind, this guy already has three planes: "A New Orleans televangelist known for preaching the 'prosperity gospel' has asked his followers from all over the world to send him donations for him to buy a $54 million jet. Jesse Duplantis, the leader of Jesse Duplantis Ministries, is asking for a new Dassault Falcon 7X, a three-engine jet he justified in a five-minute video posted last week on his website by saying it could go farther, therefore saving on airplane fuel."
* Add Denmark to the list of European countries that have passed laws "banning face veils, [and] outlawing the burqa and niqab worn by some Muslim women. Parliament voted on Thursday for the law, proposed by the center-right government, by 75 votes to 30, with 74 abstentions. It comes into effect on August 1."
* He literally used a megaphone: "A Roman Catholic diocese in Kentucky reportedly banned a Catholic high school valedictorian from giving a speech it deemed too political -- so the teen decided to use a more unconventional way to speak out. Christian Bales, a valedictorian of Holy Cross High School in Covington, Kentucky, used a megaphone outside the school’s graduation venue Friday to deliver a prepared speech to a crowd of supporters."