First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the unfortunate ways in which social-conservative activists are responding to American women's economic empowerment.
The Pew Research Center released a report this week that found women are now the sole or primary source of family income in 40% of U.S. households with children. These findings led to a bizarre Fox segment, featuring Lou Dobbs and his panel of all-male guests, who condemned the cultural/socioeconomic shift,
As my friend Kyle Mantyla reported, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer raised some related concerns.
For those who can't watch clips online, Fischer cited his vision of a "biblical" family model, citing men's "physical strength" and "brain power," and the need for women for "to focus her energies ... on making a home for her children and for her husband." Fischer then argued:
"I don't think it's a healthy dynamic to have a wife out-earn her husband, because so much of his sense of worth as a male is tied up in what he does vocationally and providing for his family. That's his calling. It's not his wife's job to provide for his family; he knows that it's his job. And if he has a wife who out-earns him, I think that's going to put some stress on his psyche. It's going to put some stress on that marriage."
In other words, according to this prominent leader in the religious right movement, women shouldn't earn more money than men, because men's feelings might be hurt -- and the male "psyche" can't handle it.
Yesterday, Fischer also defended Fox News commentator Erick Erickson, who joined Dobbs in rejecting the idea of wives out-earning their husbands, against criticism from Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Fischer characterized the host as a "dragon lady," motivated by "angry feminist energy."
Between this and last year's Republican war-on-women agenda, I sometimes get the impression conservatives are trying to push as many American women as possible to the left on purpose.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Hobby Lobby continues its push to deny contraception coverage to its employees, despite the federal health-care law, arguing this week that corporations have religious liberty, just like real people. The business' lawyer argued, "Is religion the kind of right can only be exercised by a natural person? Well, the question nearly answers itself. ... It's not a purely personal right" (thanks to reader R.P.).
* Arguably the greatest example of progressive religious activism in recent memory is the "Nuns on the Bus" tour, and this week, the nuns are back. This time, they're advocating in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
* Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin was elected Bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA) yesterday, becoming "the first openly gay clergy person elected to serve as one of the 65 synodical bishops in the denomination."
* After the Boy Scouts announced it would stop discriminating against gay kids, Kentucky's Southeast Christian Church said it would end all ties with the youth organization.
* And my friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State this week released a must-watch video featuring two brilliant entertainers -- Jane Lynch and Jordan Peele -- making a creative case in support of church-state separation. Warning: the remarkably cheesy song in the video may get stuck in your head for a while.