Pompeo Speech to For-Profit, Political American Association of Christian Counselors Draws Criticism
By Chris Rodda
Senior Research Director
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
The appearance on Monday on the State Department’s homepage of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech to the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) on “Being a Christian Leader” immediately drew criticism for its blatant violation of the separation of church and state. (Also see this Times of Israel article.)
What is missing from the reporting on the speech, however, is just what this mental health organization that Pompeo was speaking to really is, so before getting to the church-state issue, a bit about the AACC.
The AACC, boasting some 50,000 members, is a for-profit company, and its president, Tim Clinton, was a member of the Trump campaign’s evangelical advisory board. Pompeo isn’t the first strictly political with no mental health credentials to speak at an AACC conference. One of the speakers at the company’s 2017 world conference was Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow. The company is so politicized that one of its former members started a petition on change.org titled “Remove Politics from the American Association of Christian Counselors.” The AACC also has an anti-LGBT agenda, promoting reparative therapy for homosexuals until 2014 when it amended its code of ethics to encourage celibacy instead.
Now, on to the church-state separation issue of America’s top diplomat speaking in his official capacity to the AACC about his personal relationship with Jesus Christ and then promoting that speech and his beliefs on the homepage of the State Department website. Although no longer on the homepage, the speech is still on the State Department website.
Among Pompeo’s remarks about his personal beliefs and being a Christian leader, one thing in particular jumped out to those of us at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) — that he began his “walk with Christ” while a cadet at West Point:
“But as I grew older, when I started my time at the United States Military Academy, there were two young men — they were in the class ahead of me — who invited me to a Bible study. They were very intentional to me in explaining God’s Word. And after some study and discipleship with them, they helped me begin my walk with Christ.”
The word “intentional” in the above quote is very familiar to us at MRFF. It’s a word used by the parachurch military ministries found at our military service academies and other training installations — ministries such as the Officers’ Christian Fellowship, the Navigators, and Campus Crusade’s military ministry CRU, whose goal, in their own words, is to bring cadets and other military personnel into “an intentional relationship with Jesus Christ,” words also heard from Christian Embassy, Campus Crusade’s Capitol Hill and Pentagon ministry.
And this intention obviously worked on Mike Pompeo, who three decades later, as America’s Secretary of State, is using his position to promote that intentional relationship with Jesus Christ that he was brought into as a West Point Cadet.
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of MRFF, had some strong words about Pompeo’s speech and its blatantly unconstitutional promotion on the State Department website:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are witnessing a genuine rape of the United States Constitution!
“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) decries the blatant violation of Constitutionally-mandated church state separation represented by the despicable placing of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s “Being a Christian Leader“ sermon, delivered to the American Association of Christian Counselors just this past Friday, October 11, 2019, on the main website of OUR United States Department of State’s homepage for the ENTIRE WORLD to see.
“This disgusting and repulsive prima facie example of fundamentalist Christian extremism, bullying, supremacy, domination, harassment and exceptionalism is JUST as illegal as the aforementioned rape or a first degree murder or a deadly and violent bank robbery.
“Pompeo, a West Point graduate claiming to have been brought into an ‘intentional”’ relationship with Jesus Christ by more senior cadets during his time at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), is purposefully setting a fatally dangerous example for the rest of our Federal government, especially the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and our 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. MRFF now has nearly 66,000 DoD, Intelligence Agency and VA clients it represents in fighting such base, evil and vile fundamentalist Christian terrorism; about 95% of them practicing Christians themselves.
“Pompeo should be immediately forced to resign in disgrace, and any of those monstrosities who support him should suffer the exact same ignominious fate.”