Secretary Of State Nominee Mike Pompeo Vs. Religious Pluralism

CIA director and former member of Congress Mike Pompeo, whose confirmation hearing to be secretary of state will be held on Thursday, has a well-documented history of working with activists who inflame anti-Muslim fear and bigotry, as Miranda noted yesterday. A few years ago, speaking at a “God and Country” rally in Kansas, Pompeo allied himself with a pastor who gained notoriety for delivering a prayer in the state legislature criticizing America for having “worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism.”

Pompeo’s record of hostility to religious pluralism is deeply troubling for a secretary of state nominee, and not only because it undermines the core American values of religious liberty. A panel of distinguished former diplomats recently met at Georgetown University to warn that growing religious intolerance in the U.S. threatens the ability of the U.S. to effectively advocate for human rights and for the victims of religious persecution in other countries.

Pompeo’s remarks to the 2015 “God and Country” rally at Summit Church in Wichita, Kansas, were in part an appreciation of Pastor Joe Wright’s notoriously divisive 1996 legislative prayer, which was immediately denounced by some legislators but which was promoted by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey and continues to circulate among Religious Right activists.

Pompeo praised the “critical nature of pastor Wright’s prayer,” which he said was first and foremost a call to action and a sign that “we will defend our Christian values and American exceptionalism with all our heart.”

“It is an awesome honor to be standing here today in front of the United States flag and a cross,” Pompeo said. “We’ve watched government try to rip faith from our schools, and diminish the education that comes as a result of God not being in that classroom.”

Pompeo also talked about being part of the struggle against “radical Islam.”

Sometimes they’ll call us Islamophobes or they’ll say that we’re bigoted. I’ve had each of those bestowed upon me. I’ve been called a tool of the Jews. But it will never dissuade me, and I hope none of you, from acting out in the most important fundamental way, and that is proclaiming that this is an exceptional nation and that Jesus Christ is my savior.

Pompeo, who was speaking shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell marriage equality decision, also quoted a part of Wright’s prayer in which he said the U.S. had “endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.”

Pompeo criticized the ruling, saying the Supreme Court had “created out of whole cloth a brand new right”:

Well, they can change the law, but they can’t change the truth. For the first time in the history of this country, the federal government will now take away from every state, including Kansas, the right to determine what 70 percent of all Kansans wanted—marriage between one man and one woman. And this won’t be the end of their demands, I can assure you. It’s just at the beginning. They will come to places like Summit Church and attempt to impose burdens that are against your Christian belief, and I can stare out in this audience today and know that you will never let that happen. You should know that I’ll always have your back when you do that.

Pompeo promised that he would continue to fight these battles, saying “it is a never-ending struggle until that moment Pastor Fox spoke about, until the rapture.”

Pompeo also had kind words for Ralph Drollinger, the right-wing pastor who leads weekly fundamentalist Bible studies for members of the House and Senate and for members of President Trump’s cabinet.