Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, already under fire for a display of his faith, told a Democratic congresswoman on Tuesday that political correctness would “destroy our nation.”
Last month, The Washington Post, citing sources it did not name, said HUD staff interpreted comments Carson made during a staff meeting about “big hairy men” in homeless shelters for women as a slam against transgender individuals.
At the time, HUD issued a comment to The Post that said, “The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false.”
However, despite that fact, the issue was raised Tuesday by Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia.
“You don’t feel the need to apologize for those comments?” Wexton asked during a House Financial Services Committee hearing, according to The Hill.
“I was relating a story that a women’s group told me about big, hairy men — who are not transgender women, by the way — coming into your facility and having to be accepted because of the rules that were in place,” he said.
Carson said he did not recall the name of the group, but said it was from Alaska.
Carson also said that the liberal obsession with politically correct speech was hurting society.
“I think this whole concept of political correctness — ‘You can say this. You can’t say that. You can’t repeat what someone said’ — is total foolishness and is going to destroy our nation.”
Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement that the prayer was “hypocritical and does a disservice to this constitutional principle.”
“Church-state separation means that all Americans have the right to believe or not, as long as they don’t harm others,” Laser said. “This administration’s policies and rhetoric, by contrast, privilege a narrow set of religious views above all others.”
A HUD spokeswoman pushed back against the criticism.
“The Secretary’s heartfelt prayer speaks for itself. He simply used prayer to emphasize the value of every American, the need for civility, and the importance of morality. It is saddening some people would try to skew his genuine words into anything other than the contrary,” HUD spokeswoman Caroline Vanvick said.
“Our kind Father in Heaven, we’re so thankful for the many blessings that you have bestowed upon us in this country. And we’re thankful for the people of courage who have been here before us, who have fought hard for the rights of our country,” Carson said in his prayer.
“And we thank you for President Donald Trump, who also exhibits great courage in face of constant criticism. And we ask that you would give him strength to endure and the wisdom lead, and to recognize you as the sovereigns of the universe with the solution to everything.
“And the people around the President — the Vice President, the Cabinet, the advisors — give us all an understanding heart and a compassionate heart. Those are the things that will keep America great,” Carson prayed.
“And help us all to recognize as a nation that separation of church and state means that the church does not dominate the state, and it means the state does not dominate the church. It doesn’t mean that they cannot work together to promote godly principles of loving your fellow man, of caring about your neighbor, of developing your God-given talents to the utmost so that you become valuable to the people around you, and having values and principles that govern your life.
“And if we do those things, then we will always be successful. And we thank you for hearing our prayer, in your Holy name. Amen.”
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