The Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken a stance against Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and an administration that is quickly becoming labeled the most evangelical Cabinet in history.
The group has reportedly teamed up with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to bring a federal lawsuit against Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development for evading requests for records that related to a religious get-together.
Since taking office, President Donald Trump and his administration have held weekly bible-study sessions at the White House, with many familiar figures such as Vice President Mike Pence leading certain studies.
However, this weekly get-together has lead FFRF to raise concern as to whether or not the practice is ethically based on the separation of church and state.
The suit aims to find out if government resources are being used for these meetings and whether or not employees feel forced into organizing and/or participating in such events, according to the FFRF website.
The suit also aims to investigate just how much access has been granted to Capitol Ministries, whose sole aim is to evangelize elected officials.
The government watchdog alleges that HUD has consistently denied fee waivers on Freedom of Information Act requests where the “disclosure of the requested documents is likely to cast the agency or HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a negative light.”
The list of Bible study attendees includes names such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and even Attorney General Jeff Sessions — all of whom FFRF claims cannot keep their public office duties separate from their religious beliefs.
The report goes on to admit, however, that the president himself rarely makes an appearance.
Yet the problem seems to lie not simply in the fact that these meetings are held, but that the department has been unwilling to release its documents and is being accused of creating further barriers from their release.
“If this bible study is legal and aboveboard, as the Trump administration and Fox News have argued, what are they trying to hide by torpedoing the FOIA process,” asked Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President to FFRF.
Inquiries into the group’s spending began sometime last August, with FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andre L. Seidel raising concerns with the weekly bible study.
But according to others such as Capitol Ministries founder Ralph Drollinger, those that attend are nothing but pious government individuals who attend to make their political foundation — and beliefs — stronger.
Drollinger suggested the administration’s proclivity to partner with the ministry is groundbreaking, as he admits he doesn’t think a “formal” bible study among executive Cabinet members has been done in nearly 100 years.
Drollinger himself leads many of the weekly meetings, giving details on the prominent faces he sees often.
“It’s the best Bible study that I’ve ever taught in my life,” Dollinger told CBN News. “They are so teachable; they’re so noble; they’re so learned.”
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