An American pope? Conservative pundit Charlotte Allen takes a new tack in the debate over how much religion politicians should put on display: “Although the Constitution explicitly requires separation of church and state, most Americans don’t mind — indeed many demand — that their president not only honor religious faith, an American hallmark, but function in some sense as a religious leader.”

“‘His wife walked over and handed me the keys, and said, ‘”God told us to give y’all the building.”‘” Bob Ray Sanders, of the Star-Telegram, reports on the gifting of a church in Fort Worth, Texas from the pastor of the predominantly white Trinity Baptist congregation to the black Christian Faith Baptists. The two congregations have merged, Sanders writes, and had their first joint service this morning.

“The merger of religion and patriotism is especially dangerous in wartime, because it leads naturally to the conclusion that God is on our side. And if God is on our side, it isn’t hard to figure out who, with two little horns protruding from his head, is on the other side.” Susan Jacoby, author of the recently published Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, on where politics shouldn’t go.

Saparmurat Niyazov, President-for-life of Turkmenistan, already commands that his image be included on every denomination of local currency, local brands of vodka, tea and other goods. But last month, Juliette Terzieff reports for the Chronicle Foreign Service, Niyazov elevated himself to demigod-status, commanding that words from his treatise, the Rukhnama, or Book of the Soul, be inscribed alongside Koranic verses on a new $100 million mosque being constructed. He has also banned any future mosque construction and recommended all existing churches and mosques display a copy of his spiritual guidance.