First up from the God Machine this week is a story about Mike Huckabee, the pastor turned governor turned presidential candidate turned media personality, who used his platform to go after a specific religious minority.
Speaking on his radio program on Monday, Huckabee prefaced his remarks by saying that he understood it was "politically incorrect" to "say anything unkind about Islam." He then went on to suggest that Islamic teachings were to blame for recent unrest during the holy month of Ramadan."Can someone explain to me why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called 'holiest days,'" Huckabee said. "You know, if you've kept up with the Middle East, you know that the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday. So the Muslims will go to the mosque, and they will have their day of prayer, and they come out of there like uncorked animals -- throwing rocks and burning cars."
Huckabee later clarified that he did not mean to refer to all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. How nice.
The Huffington Post's report noted that destructive demonstrations are more common in the Middle East on Fridays, but "there are numerous factors that have made Friday the most popular day for protests, including the fact that most of the Muslim world gets the day off and frequently congregates in large communal areas to observe the day of prayer." For Huckabee to suggest prayer services themselves generate violence is unfounded.
Huckabee, one of the nation's most prominent religio-political voices on the American right, has a long history of provocative rhetoric, and these comments follow remarks Huckabee made after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, when he tied the lack of government-sponsored religion to the tragedy.
Huckabee has also falsely claimed that President Obama “grew up in Kenya"; he's endorsed “death panel” garbage; he's equated the national debt with the Nazi Holocaust; and has gone after the LGBT community with over-the-top rhetoric. In August 2009, Huckabee even argued on his own radio show that Obama’s health care reform plan would have forced Ted Kennedy to commit suicide.
But Huckabee going after religions he doesn't like is fairly new.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Cathie Adams, the former chair of the Texas Republican Party, fears that congressional approval of immigration reform may "lead to an identification system indicative of biblical End Times."
* The Supreme Court is set to hear a case out of upstate New York, challenging the constitutionality of opening sessions of the town board with an official prayer. This week, both Congress and the White House weighed in, siding with the town practice. In a rather crass move, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has begun fundraising on the issue (thanks to reader R.B. for the tip).
* An unfortunate development in Massachusetts: "Monsignor Arthur Coyle, a top official in the Merrimack Valley area for the Archdiocese of Boston, was arrested Sunday and charged with soliciting a prostitute, after having been spotted by police circling around known prostitution spots in the city more than a dozen times in the past 10 months." Late last year, Coyle was given the title of Prelate of Honor by then Pope Benedict XVI (thanks to reader R.P.).
* And TV preacher Pat Robertson was asked by a viewer about video games, and he replied, "If you're murdering somebody in cyberspace, in a sense you're performing the act." Good to know.