Pompeo’s ‘Unalienable Rights’ Report a Vehicle for Christian Nationalism, Says Center for Inquiry

For Immediate Release: July 16, 2020
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

In announcing a draft report by his Commission on Unalienable Rights, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the false narrative that “faith in god” is necessary for morality and human rights. The draft report doubles down on Pompeo’s previous ahistorical claims that the United States was built on an explicitly Christian foundation.

“This deceitful claim erases the dignity and the societal contributions of more than 23 percent of American adults with no religious affiliation,” said Jason Lemieux, director of government affairs for the Center for Inquiry. “The draft report ludicrously implies that our founding values are drawn from the ‘biblical teachings’ of Protestant Christianity:” 

The report claims that Protestant Christianity was one of the “traditions that formed the American spirit” at the nation’s founding, citing what it describes as “beautiful Biblical teachings that every human being is imbued with dignity and bears responsibilities toward fellow human beings, because each is made in the image of God.”

“Secretary Pompeo’s insistent harping on ‘God-given rights’ underscores the true intent of this report: to justify Christian nationalist foreign policy that abandons and endangers people overseas who are persecuted for their nonbelief, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as those who seek comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion and contraception,” said Lemieux. 

The Center for Inquiry, an international nonprofit organization that seeks to advance reason, science, and humanist values, maintains special consultative status with the United Nations and regularly advocates for the rights of atheists and the nonreligious at the Human Rights Council. Secular Rescue, a program of CFI, lends assistance to secular activists and writers in countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia whose lives are threatened for speaking out against religious oppression.

CFI characterized Sec. Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights as an attempt to impose Christian nationalist ideology on the work of the State Department. It has a highly irregular structure, existing outside of the Department’s leadership, the Commission answers only to Pompeo, resisting calls for transparency, and failing to cooperate with information requests from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as the House Committee on Oversight and Reform

“Under the influence of this poorly conceived commission, the U.S. State Department can be expected to condone and even encourage discrimination against vulnerable people in dangerous circumstances, including atheists and other religious dissidents,” said Lemieux. “It is left to watchdog groups like ours—and ultimately, the American people—to minimize the damage this commission can do, and ultimately to see it shelved.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.