We are, as you probably know, currently being overwhelmed by religious news. Religion is a serious subject, of course, and not one that lends itself in any way whatsoever to juvenile humor, such as referring to the new leader of the Catholic Church as Pope "Eggs" Benedict XVI. Such a thing would be considered sacrilegious and could cause a massive bolt of lightning to burst from the sky and hopefully strike Michael Jackson in the crotch (newspaper headline: "God Weighs In On Jackson Molestation Trial").
And it's not just the events at the Vatican, with the huge puff of white smoke last week signaling that somehow Charlie Sheen had gotten inside with a bag of pot. Other things have caused religion to swirl all around us, to use the age-old expression, "like Colorado state Sen. Ed Jones' $27 toupee in a wind storm."
At our very own Air Force Academy, for example, a chaplain told cadets last summer that those not "born again will burn in the fires of hell." That incident was included in a recent report that indicated academy administrators favor Christian cadets over non-Christians.
'One nation, under your belief system'
This might help explain one of the academy's proudest and most cherished traditions, celebrated each Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. The tradition is called Letus Standei Pushupus Israelus, or "Let's Stand Around and Watch the Jews Do Pushups."
The report, compiled by impartial, non-academy observers, said Christian cadets were told by academy officials that Jesus had "called" them to the academy and military life. Proof of this link between cadets and the Savior came at the end of their very first day at the academy, when nearly all of the young men wanted to crucify the academy barber.
(In another sign from the Bible, the cadets would then spend the first weekend trying to "know" as many of the female cadets as possible.)
Academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker said new training is underway to make the academy more tolerant of all religions. "The focus of our training is respect," Whitaker told Denver Post reporter Erin Emery. "That's what this training is about: your right to believe what you want, or not at all."
Footnote: Later that night, reporter Emery's backyard garden was destroyed by a swarm of locusts.
And just up the road from the academy in Jefferson County, God and religion also became a big issue last week when a middle school guidance counselor led the Pledge of Allegiance over the school's intercom system and replaced the line "One nation, under God."
Instead -- and I am not kidding about this -- Everitt Middle School counselor Margo Lucero recited this line: "One nation, under your belief system."
I often use that very same reference. Especially when I'm playing golf with my Muslim, Hindu and atheist friends and I don't want to offend them. Last Saturday, for example, I sliced my drive into a lake and bellowed "my belief system dammit" before snapping the club over my knee and throwing it into the woods.
The immorality of cross-dressing teachers
Just a day later, the Colorado Senate briefly halted its usual business (taking handouts from developers and making jokes about Sen. Jones' wig) to debate a bill that would protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination. During the heated discussion, several state senators mentioned "God," "religion" and even "the creator of this universe" (an apparent reference to local builder Steve Schuck).
The highlight of the religious debate in the Senate came when everyone laughed at Sen. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs by way of Pluto), who proposed an amendment that would allow public schools to adopt rules banning -- again, I am not kidding -- "cross-dressing teachers."
Lamborn's proposal was quickly rejected, with our lawmakers realizing that a cross-dressing teacher isn't such a bad idea in these days of rampant sexual encounters between teachers and students. (Studies have shown that when Mr. Schmidlap, the woodshop teacher, is wearing a dress and 6-inch heels, he's more likely to have a passionate love affair with himself -- thus freeing up his students for more normal and appropriate school behavior such as horsing around near the table saw.)
But no firestorm of religion would be complete without hearing from our friends at Focus on the Family, who last week took a few moments from their important regular duties (tearing open cash-filled donation envelopes sent in by uneducated, bewildered people in places such as Kentucky and, well, Kentucky) to accuse U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar of being too Catholic.
Focus's head donation envelope-opener, James Dobson, went on TV last Thursday to blast Salazar and also to defend the anti-Catholic rantings of a Focus board member who called Catholicism a "false church."
The Focus official, R. Albert Mohler Jr., who actually lives in, let's see here ... Kentucky, has said: "The Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel. And the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."
The highly esteemed Mohler would have talked more about religion, but he had to rush back into his kitchen because the squirrel stew was boiling over and ruining his wife's brand-new dirt floor.
Listen to Rich Tosches Thursday mornings on the "Coffey and Alisha Show" on KVUU-FM, 99.9.