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WASHINGTON – A recent speech about “Being a Christian Leader” by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was promoted on the State Department’s homepage Monday, and has been met with criticism that it potentially violates the principle of separation of church and state enshrined in the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
The speech was delivered at the America Association of Christian Counselors on Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. Pompeo touts Christianity throughout the remarks, describing how he applies his faith to his government work, referencing God and the Bible during the entirety of the speech.
The remarks, posted and promoted on the department's homepage, begin with Pompeo, America’s top diplomat, saying he wanted to “use my time today to think about what it means to be a Christian leader,” continuing that he, “learned how to lead at whatever level I'm blessed with during my time at West Point and other experiences, but I want to talk today about being a Christian leader. I learned that through a very different experience, an experience with God and my own personal faith in Christ."
“Now, I know that even having just said that, I know some people in the media will break out the pitchforks when they hear that I ask God for direction in my work,” he continued.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, said that Pompeo “shouldn't be a Christian leader, he should be an American leader...leading a nation of people who have different faiths and no faiths."
Qasim Rashid, a Muslim state Senate candidate in Virginia, tweeted, “When do we get to see 'Being a Jewish or Muslim or Sikh or atheist leader?'"
Former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council Aaron Keyak said that "There's obviously no issue with the Secretary of State being a leader, nor his being a proud Christian. But it's a problem that Secretary Pompeo thinks it's appropriate to put those two words together and hold an official State Department event on being a Christian leader."
"Him talking as a Christian leader and billing it as such is an affront to our separation of church and state," added Keyak.
More critics have expressed their dismay at the remarks, and the promotion of the speech on the State Department's homepage.
As Pompeo talked about protecting life throughout the speech, he mentions Iran and China, but he never mentioned Syria, where President Donald Trump decided to pull U.S. troops out, clearing the way for Turkey to launch a military offensive in the region that has been criticized in the past week by even some of the president's closest allies among Capitol Hill Republicans.
This is not the first time Pompeo has touted religion in his official capacity. In March, Pompeo agreed "it's possible" God sent Trump to save Israel from Iran.
Another Trump administration official, Attorney General William Barr, also gave a speech on religion on Friday, decrying secularism as a root of some of society's problems, including drug overdoses, mental health issues, and violence.
USA TODAY has reached out to the State Department for comment.
“Scripture calls us to be ‘transformed by the renewing of minds,'” Pompeo said Friday. “And so I keep a Bible open on my desk, and I try every morning to try and get in a little bit of time with the Book. I need my mind renewed with truth each day. And part of that truth is, as my son reminds me, is to be humble.”
“You will all be in my prayers as you do God’s work, and I covet yours as I lead American diplomacy,” Pompeo concluded in his remarks last week.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: State Dept. website promotes Mike Pompeo speech as critics decry it