When an atheist group tried to bully Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Ben Carson about his attendance at a weekly Bible study at the White House, he defiantly told them, “I will not step being a Christian while in service to this country.”
According to the Daily Caller, the dustup began in July when news broke about a bible study for cabinet members that was taking place at the White House. The study is led by Ralph Drollinger, a former NBA-player who founded Capitol Ministries, an organization devoted to keeping the Christian worldview alive by hosting bible studies for lawmakers around the country.
A few regulars at the White House study are Attorney General Jeff Sessions, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found out about the study and issued Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to all of the agencies led by Cabinet secretaries who attend the Bible study to see if the government was coercing anyone into attending or spending any tax payer money on the “secretive” meetings.
However, HUD charged the groups for the FOIA fees that are required if the information requested is not in the public interest or related to the agency’s operation. The groups are now suing Carson, claiming that HUD has a pattern of denying fee waivers on FOIA requests “where disclosure of the requested documents is likely to cast the agency or HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a negative light.”
Carson’s response on Facebook was epic.
“The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) are apparently filing a lawsuit against HUD and me, alleging that they are being treated unfairly because they are required to pay a standard fee when requesting information through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) regarding my participation in the weekly Bible study for cabinet members. They are fearful that a hot beverage or a bagel may be consumed at the expense of taxpayers or that staff may be coerced to participate in religious activities against their will.
“First of all, taxpayer funds are not used to support the ministry, and secondly, no staff are involved in the Bible study. More importantly, I refuse to be intimidated by anti-religious groups into relinquishing my spirituality or religious beliefs. One of the principles of our nation‘s founding is freedom of religion. I will not stop being a Christian while in service to this country, in fact, it is my faith that helps me serve the nation even better. The relentless attacks on the spirituality of our nation must be resisted. We are not like everyone else, which is precisely the reason that we rose so rapidly from obscurity to become the most powerful and free nation in history.
“We sometimes smugly say that we won the cold war with the Soviet Union, but it was Joseph Stalin, the Russian tyrant who said the United States could be destroyed from within by eroding three things: our patriotism, our morality, and our spirituality. These things are currently under severe attack. We the people must decide who we are and what we stand for. If we don’t, the ending of the Cold War might change dramatically.”
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