A popular piece of legislation that seeks to honor Pope Francis is stuck in Congress. With time running out on the Capitol Hill calendar, the lawmakers who crafted the bipartisan measure are getting impatient with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The resolution, written by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.), congratulates Francis on his March 2013 election and recognizes "his inspirational statements and actions." The seemingly innocuous resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which hasn't acted on it.
First up from the God Machine this week is a story about a symbolic congressional resolution that's run into some unexpected trouble. The Hill reported:
The symbolic measure -- the sort of thing that usually passes the House without incident -- has 221 co-sponsors, but there's a stark partisan imbalance, with 202 Democratic supporters. One House Republican lawmaker said the GOP considers the pope is "too liberal."
The unnamed Republican, who supports the resolution, said GOP lawmakers have complained that Pope Francis is "sounding like Obama" because he "talks about equality." What's more, the pope has blasted "trickle-down economics," rhetoric that many conservatives consider "politically charged."
A Religion News Service report added, "[N]early half of all simple resolutions introduced in the last two years were passed, so it's notable that one praising Pope Francis couldn't even make it out of committee in this Congress."
To be sure, very little seems to happen in this Congress, but in the case of this resolution, it appears there may be more than routine gridlock at play.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Rep. Steven Palazzo (R) of Mississippi has sent Christian Bibles to literally every member of Congress -- including lawmakers who aren't Christian -- along with a note saying his gift is intended "to help guide you in your decision-making,"
* A remarkable story out of China: "China will construct a 'Chinese Christian theology' suitable for the country, state media reported on Thursday, as both the number of believers and tensions with the authorities are on the rise." According to a state-run newspaper, "The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China's national condition and integrate with Chinese culture" (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the heads-up).
* An interesting religious-display lawsuit in New Mexico: "A federal judge on Thursday ruled that a New Mexico city must remove a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the lawn in front of Bloomfield City Hall."
* And TV preacher Pat Robertson's show, "The 700 Club," ran a feature on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) this week, which the host apparently liked. "Wouldn't it be great if we had a president who was a former Hindu from India?" Robertson said. "What a great story." For the record, Jindal was born in Louisiana, not India.