Pompeo anoints himself a ‘Christian leader’

Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo grossly misused his office during a recent speech to advance his personal religious beliefs, contends the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a strong letter of complaint.

Pompeo delivered a speech, entitled “Being a Christian Leader,” before the 2019 American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference on Oct. 11. The speech’s title alone misrepresents the office of the secretary of state. That office is neither “Christian” nor reserved for a “Christian leader.” And the secretary has no business using his office, title and taxpayer resources to instruct other citizens on how to be Christian leaders, FFRF told him.

Compounding this violation of the Establishment Clause is the utilization of the official State Department website to further promote Pompeo’s sectarian religious views, including the placement of his photograph speaking at this event with the words “Being a Christian Leader” on the homepage. This is an egregious misuse of secular governmental resources to promote religion, in this case Christianity. It is precisely what our Constitution forbids, FFRF declares.

Imagine the fury, FFRF asks Pompeo, if a Muslim running a branch of the federal or state government in the United States gave an official speech entitled “Being a Muslim Leader” during which he suggested that everyone should read the Quran and follow its teachings, and then used the resources of that branch to further promote the message. Individuals like Pompeo would be sounding the alarm — and rightly so.

“You took an oath of office to uphold our godless and entirely secular Constitution and to serve all Americans, not just Christians,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to Pompeo. “That means that your obligation as secretary of state is to serve America, full stop. Your public position cannot be used to promote religion.”

Pompeo’s problematic speech encouraged daily study of the bible in order to fulfill the text’s command to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds.” This is an outright promotion of a holy book and its teachings, FFRF points out. It is highly ironic of Pompeo to assert that this exercise teaches him humility while he arrogantly instructs which “holy” book everyone else should read.

Pompeo goes on to say that “we are imperfect servants serving a perfect God.” It is outrageous and improper for him to suggest that the State Department’s non-Christian employees are “servants” of his personal deity. He claims to work to “serve America,” but in the same breath says that his is serving God.

FFRF has previously documented that this is not the first time Pompeo has abused a position of public trust to advance his Christian beliefs. As a member of Congress, he bemoaned that some Americans worship “other gods,” stating that politics was a “never-ending struggle . . . until the rapture.” Throughout his career, Pompeo regularly has used public positions to promote Christianity and belittle non-Christians, while complaining that Christians are being ill-treated elsewhere in the world. 

In doing so, FFRF underlines, Pompeo has ignored our secular Constitution.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit with more than 30,000 members across the country. It is dedicated to protecting the constitutional separation between state and church, and educating the public about nonreligion. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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