Another Democrat Senator has attacked an executive branch nominee because of his religious beliefs. This time the victim was CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated to be U.S. Secretary of State.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), known as a rising star in his political party, seemed to want Pompeo to recant his faith-based beliefs about marriage and sexual ethics as a condition for being America’s top diplomat. Booker first pressed on marriage and then repeatedly asked Pompeo, “Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion?” The senator was not satisfied with Pompeo’s answer that he has treated all people with equal respect and will continue to do so.
Last summer, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was in serious contention to be the 2016 Democrat candidate for U.S. President, suggested Russell Vought, an evangelical Christian and a Trump nominee, should be disqualified from a federal leadership post based on his belief that Christ is the only way of salvation. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), previously a top House leader and now chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, followed that same line of criticism during Vought’s confirmation hearing.
Last fall, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told a Catholic judicial nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also probed Barrett’s religious identity in an exchange including the question, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”
NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson had then expressed how outrageous this was and urged Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to move “to snuff out such bigotry from his caucus quickly and decisively.” However, there has so far been no formal apology or condemnation in Congress for these remarks.
For his part, Booker revealed in a Facebook post that he equates a person’s religious beliefs about marriage and the moral status of individuals’ actions with one’s belief about the intrinsic value of individuals themselves. He wrote, “At a time when suicide rates for gay youth are painfully high… what does it mean that we elevate a man to be our Secretary of State—4th in line to the presidency—who believes that a gay youth is a perversion?”
Booker notably acknowledged Pompeo’s commitment to respecting everyone equally. “Mike Pompeo pledged to me over and over again that he would treat all those under his leadership with respect and treat them equally,” he said. However, he then added, “But I am not sure how you truly lead others -- not to mention ‘love they neighbor’ -- and still view a fundamental and innate part of who they are as a perversion.”
The senator concluded that if Pompeo, whom he recognized as a fellow Christian, is confirmed as Secretary of State, then, “I will pray for the both of us, that we live up to our oaths of office and the faith which we proclaim. May we love more courageously, fearlessly, selflessly, and more humbly.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: April 20, 2018