Republicans press State Dept. over grant program they say will promote atheism ‘across the world’

A number of House Republicans are taking the Biden administration to task over a taxpayer-funded initiative to push an atheistic worldview in countries around the world.

The initiative comes in the form of a $500,000 grant to be awarded to organizations “committed to the practice and spread of atheism and humanism” in parts of the world where such a message is unlikely to be welcome, including South and Central Asia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa.

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, along with 14 Republican colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the grant program, which is part of the Orwellian-sounding Department of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), another mysterious “department” that most Americans are likely unaware of.

We are writing to express our grave concern that the State Department is using appropriated funds to support atheism and radical, progressive orthodoxy across the world,” the letter begins. It then notes that the grant proposal, officially called “DRL FY20 IRF Promoting and Defending Religious Freedom Inclusive of Atheist, Humanist, Non-Practicing and Non-Affiliated Individuals” consisted of “a ‘competitive’ process that would award grants of up to $500,000 to organizations committed to the practice and spread of atheism and humanism, namely in South/Central Asia and in the Middle East/North Africa.” 

To be clear, atheism and ‘humanism’ are official belief systems,” the letter continues. “As an initial matter, therefore, we would like to know what other United States government programs supported with appropriated funds are being used either to encourage, inculcate, or to disparage any official belief systematheist, humanist, Christian, Muslim, or otherwise. It is one thing for the Department to be tolerant and respectful of a wide range of belief systems, and to encourage governments to respect the religious freedom interests of their citizens. It is quite another for the United States government to work actively to empower atheists, humanists, non-practicing, and non-affiliated in public decision-making.” 

The problem, as the letter points out, is that the State Department only has a remit to encourage abroad the same sort of religious tolerance enshrined in the Constitution; however, the new program seeks to fund groups that actively “practice and spread” atheism and humanism, which smacks of promoting one belief system at the expense of others. Obviously, in the Muslim-dominated countries that the new program seems to predominately target, such an undertaking would be resented, to say the least.

“Any such programfor any religiously-identifiable groupin the United States would be unconstitutional,” the letter explains. “In addition to its constitutionally dubious legal foundation, we also question how such a grant or cooperative agreement program advances the foreign policy interests of the United States. Were such programs known by the citizens of the target countries, we would expect that local populations, interest groups, and governments would bristle at what any ‘objective observer’ would see as ‘covert’ funding from a foreign power designed to shatter local religious and cultural relationships.”

The letter’s signatories weren’t shy about discussing what they saw as the real reason behind the program—the furtherance of left-wing objectives by an unabashedly left-wing regime.

Americans rightly discern this as a part of the broader effort on the part of your administration to promote radical, progressive orthodoxy abroad. Atheism is an integral part of the belief system of Marxism and communism. A few weeks ago, the United States Embassy in Germany erected a “Black Lives Matter” flag. Americans should be very alarmed at this. It’s not only that ‘Black Lives Matter remains a highly divisive and increasingly unpopular movement here in the United States; the display is also denoting a promotion of a specific radical organization.” 

Whether it’s with failed programs like the ill-fated “Disinformation Governance Board,” the flying of Pride and BLM banners alongside the US flag at embassies around the world, or this recent foray into the promotion of atheism in foreign countries, the Biden administration is looking increasingly like a radical, leftist imposition on the country it purports to represent.


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Todd Jaquith


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