Benen, who writes Political Animal for The Washington Monthly, embarks on a satiric response, beginning with "THIS WEEK IN GOD.... First up from the God Machine ... ."
Benen thunders along with his "God Machine," first bolting on Sean Hannity's comically misguided attack on a Center for Inquiry ad campaign. There is no humor, however, in Benen's decision to add a clerical sex abuse provoked bankruptcy and an anti-gay/anti-women view of the Pope Benedict XVI's outreach to Anglicans to his device.
Perhaps Benen does not mean to imply inclusion of all believers in his "God Machine" when he concludes with reference to the study of religiosity released Friday by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, noting that "the United States remains among the most religious for industrial nations."
Yet the effect of his parade of references is to steadily increase the insulting impact on people who don't rant and rave Donohue-style but who do regard themselves as, for example, "children of God." That's as in, "I am a child of God" - not a allusion to the "Children of God" cult.
Such folk may feel excluded by Benen's rhetoric. A large group. The study to which Benen alludes says 92% of Americans believe in some sort of God.
A sense of exclusion does Donohue's work for him, since Donohue's ranting is in fact not mere witless drivel. It is what two key analysts of pulpit orations employed by conservative Southern Baptist pastors call "exclusionist rhetoric."
Specifically, Carl L. Kell and L. Raymond Camp explain in their book In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention that "Exclusionist rhetoric declares that certain "sanctioned, scriptural texts" define group membership and may be used to "rid" the group of certain undesirable elements."
Donohue is employs exclusionist rhetoric in his efforts to cement together a larger political movement. He is remarkably straightforward about his goals when he writes in The Washington Post:
The only way secular saboteurs can be stopped is by an alliance of religious conservatives across faith lines. The good news is that this is already happening. In the fight over gay marriage, the scorecard is 30-0: traditional Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Mormons, along with a big contribution from the Latino and African American communities, have succeeded in throwing a roadblock at this crazy idea.
Making up a "God Machine" and implying through selection of components that it is composed of the rhetorically deranged, the feckless and sexual deviants tends to drive undecided believers toward Donohue and his ilk.