State / Church Separation, Mike Pompeo, and My Reaction

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been hanging out at Hemant Mehta's Friendly Atheist website, reading and commenting on his multiple daily posts.  This afternoon, while scanning an entry regarding an art teacher who was criticizing students whose work offended her Christian sensibilities, someone posted the following graphic, which I thought was particularly disturbing, especially considering its source:


I was sufficiently incensed at this clear breach in State / Church separation by Mr. Pompeo that I was moved to write the following on the State Department website:

It is one thing to be a Christian and espouse Christian beliefs and viewpoints as a private citizen. It is entirely another to do so as a person in a position of high responsibility in a government whose Constitution was designed and intended to be without taint of ANY religion, whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or any other system of belief. Yet this is what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has done with his appearance at the American Association of Christian Counselors on 11 October of this year. Need I remind you that it is the de-jure nature of our government to be INDEPENDENT from ANY religion, so that we can treat all people of all religions as well as those who have no religious belief EQUALLY? The favoritism demonstrated by Pompeo's appearance at this meeting is emblematic of the lack of religious independence which has characterized this administration from its beginning. I have to ask the obvious question: Would Mr. Pompeo be equally as willing to address an audience of Muslims ... or Mormons ... or a Jewish assembly ... or a gathering of atheists ... and assure to them that their voice would be equally as heard in the halls of American government as Christians are?

As an atheist, I have to call Mr. Pompeo to account for his actions in this regard. While the United States is a nation containing a great number of Christians, It is NOT by any intent a Christian nation. I state this with the confidence represented by the text of Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, which begins:

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..."

I would add to that Article VI, paragraph 3 of our Constitution, which insists that no religious test shall be applied to any office or public trust, as well as the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Certainly Mr. Pompeo may practice his religion as he chooses. However, as Secretary of State, his position in the government demands a higher standard of behavior and decorum, one which he has clearly ignored.

I therefore write this to express my extreme disappointment and disapproval of the actions of Mr. Pompeo, with the suggestion that he rethink his attitude toward his position and the necessity of maintaining his own separation of State and Church when he acts from the office of the Secretary of State.

Respectfully submitted,

Loren C. Miller, Jr.
Bedford Heights, Ohio

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Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on January 18, 2020 at 1:14pm

On Thursday the Trump administration announced a number of measures that further the agenda of Christian conservatives. Nine federal agencies — including the Department of Justice, the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services — will remove restrictions on religious social service providers that use federal tax money requiring them to inform beneficiaries of secular organizations that could provide the same services. The Education Department will compel states to inform the federal government if there are complaints regarding students’ rights to pray, even though this requirement does not apply to other discrimination accusations. The department will also submit a guidance letter to the states requiring local districts to certify that they have no rules or regulations conflicting with students’ right to pray. In addition, according to BuzzFeed, the Department of Education will issue a draft regulation requiring all public colleges and universities that receive federal funding to provide the same rights, privileges and money to religious students groups that secular student groups have.

Jewish group fears Trump’s new push threatens the separation of chu...

Comment by Compelledunbeliever on January 18, 2020 at 12:30pm

Thank you, for making sense. It obviously will be ingnored by those who do not wish to think.

Comment by Loren Miller on November 25, 2019 at 6:00am

Thank YOU, GC.  This is what I want to be about: supporting and maintaining State / Church separation and holding those who would ignore or disparage it to account.

Comment by Grinning Cat on November 24, 2019 at 10:11pm

...the super wealthy claim they have the favor of their god...

That very much resembles the "prosperity gospel" that teaches that if God likes you, you will become wealthy. (And if you don't, it's your own fault in one way or another.)

Thank you, Loren, and Michael and Ruth and everyone who's speaking out in favor of maintaining and protecting our secular government!

Comment by Loren Miller on November 24, 2019 at 9:42am

Michael, you and I both know what this is called: "Playing to Trump's Base."  It is so clearly pandering to those for whom belief in their deity is an immutable precondition for any kind of credibility that a failure to reference Yahweh and Jesus and their fan club is tantamount to heresy of the highest order and a disqualification for the position of dog catcher, let alone president.

These are True Believers.  They've so been taught WHAT to think that the concept of HOW to think has totally eluded them.  They are like their holy book: written by men and frozen in time, which makes them unmovable ... and dangerous.

Comment by Michael Penn on November 24, 2019 at 9:34am

This is a strange new trend happening as so many more believers enter the Trump Administration. They give lip service to god belief anyway regardless of what they hold true deep inside. I have recently came across posts where Betsy Devos wants to use her position and power to help America become a "Christian Nation" again. Yes, the super wealthy claim they have the favor of their god. I'm not surprised because they have their trust in him printed on all his money. Hold up that bill and claim "in god I trust."

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on October 16, 2019 at 2:41pm

Thanks

Comment by Loren Miller on October 16, 2019 at 8:06am

Thanks, Randall.  Fatter of mact, a couple others on the FA site also wrote to express their displeasure at Pompeo's actions, and I was very glad to see that.  The one thing that people like Pompeo really deserve in all of this is BLOWBACK, the knowledge that there are ordinary citizens out there who DON'T like what they're doing and are willing to voice their disapproval.  At times, I think they depend on the apathy of the general public, and feedback of this kind has at least the potential to upset their applecart.  The problem of course is that what we write is probably mostly handled by secretaries and assistants and the real target never sees it.

Still, at some level or other, I think that criticism registers ... which is why I still do it.

Comment by Randall Smith on October 16, 2019 at 7:38am

Hooray for you, Loren.

Comment by Loren Miller on October 15, 2019 at 9:32am

Just by way of a bump and a bit more information, here is the link to Pompeo's speech to the American Association of Christian Counselors. Also note that the splash graphic and link has been REMOVED from the front page of state.gov!

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