Earlier today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a conference call about “religious freedom” that was barred to members of the press corps, including those whose job it is to cover the State Department.
The only people apparently invited to participate were “faith-based media.”
The State Dept is holding a special informational call today. But the State Dept press corps wasn’t invited. Being told it’s for “faith-based media only”…
— Michelle Kosinski (@MichLKosinski) March 18, 2019
What did Pompeo say on the call? No one knows.
Who was invited to participate? No clue.
What non-Christian faiths were represented? We haven’t been told.
And as if to make the whole thing even shadier, the State Department won’t provide a transcript of the call as they usually do.
State dept will not provide transcript of @SecPompeo call with so-called “faith based media” not say who took part or what criteria were for participating. Usually transcripts are provided for all on the record interviews.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) March 19, 2019
The Freedom From Religion Foundation says this sort of religious requirement violates both the Establishment Clause as well as press freedoms. In addition to filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the government to find out what happened in the phone call, FFRF has already sent a letter to Pompeo:
“Holding an informational media call that is open only to members of the media with your preferred religious viewpoint is anathema to your constitutional obligation to treat all Americans equally regardless of their religious affiliation,” writes FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne. “In addition, media that are not ‘faith-based’ have a right to be included in media calls or events that are open to their religious counterparts.”
FFRF has requested written assurances from the State Department that future media calls and events will not exclude nonreligious media or otherwise favor religion over nonreligion. FFRF has also filed a formal Freedom of Information Act request to obtain public records related to the event.
“The State Department’s favoritism towards ‘religiously-based’ media should be appalling to all Americans regardless of their religious beliefs,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor comments. “Not only does it trample the core founding value of American democracy that is the freedom of the press, but it sends the message to the fast-growing number of nonreligious Americans that they are of secondary concern to their own government.”
All of this is especially troubling when you realize Pompeo thinks the Rapture is a real thing and not just one of the more bizarre tales in Christian mythology. He also thinks “Jesus Christ… is truly the only solution for our world.”
When that guy wants a private phone call with religious representatives, while acting on behalf of the State Department, the possibilities of what they discussed are numerous, and none of them are good.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)