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This Week in God, 9.22.18

Franklin Graham appears on NBC News' "Today" show. (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty)
Franklin Graham appears on NBC News' "Today" show.

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at Franklin Graham's effort to defend Brett Kavanaugh against the allegation that he sexually assaulted a young woman when they were teenagers.

That Graham, a prominent Christian evangelist and son of the late Billy Graham, defended Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee was not surprising. That Graham told the Christian Broadcasting Network that an alleged incident from decades past is no longer relevant was predictable, too.

But as the Charlotte Observer  reported, Graham went quite a bit further in trying to exonerate the conservative jurist.

Evangelist Franklin Graham said sexual assault accusations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from when he was a teenager are "not relevant" and that the U.S. Senate should confirm his nomination. [...]Asked by the CBN interviewer what kind of message his remarks send to sexual abuse victims, Graham replied: "Well, there wasn't a crime that was committed. These are two teenagers and it's obvious that she said no and he respected it and walked away."

What's actually "obvious" is that Franklin Graham decided to defend Kavanaugh before reading Christine Blasey Ford's account of the alleged attack. The professor told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh "pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it."

According to her account, Kavanaugh also put his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming, and Ford feared, among other things, that he might "inadvertently kill" her.

As the nation came to terms with the report, Graham said of the alleged incident, "[S]he said no and he respected it and walked away." In no way does that reflect Ford's version of events.

It doesn't even reflect Kavanaugh's version of events, since according to the judge, he wasn't at the party and there was no such incident to walk away from.

It's worth noting for context that Graham is a steadfast Trump ally who took a prominent role in defending the president in the wake of the Stormy Daniels revelations. Trump also made a $100,000 personal contribution to a Graham-run charity last year in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* The Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit got underway yesterday, kicking off the religious right movement's largest annual event. Among other things, attendees heard Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brag about dramatically altering the makeup of the nation's federal judiciary for a generation.

* The latest in the Catholic Church's abuse scandal: "Pope Francis has called a global meeting of Catholic bishops to discuss how to prevent sex abuse, an unprecedented move and a sign that the pontiff is trying to retake the initiative on an issue that has thrown his pontificate into crisis. No pope has ever called such a large-scale meeting of church leaders specifically to address the sex-abuse crisis. The meeting, set for February, is a high-stakes gamble that instantly raises expectations of overhauls in the church and sets up the pope to take the blame if expectations aren't met."

* Does Donald Trump's evangelical advisory board violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act? My old friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State believes it does.

* Someone clearly didn't think this through: "A recent campaign ad from Fort Bend County, Texas, has members of the Asian-American community in an uproar. The county's Republican Party apologized after its ad targeting Hindu voters in The India Herald, an area paper, sparked controversy, with many calling it offensive."