The Secretary and the Lord

Mike Pompeo speaking at a Freedomworks rally in 2013. (Photo: Mark Taylor/Flickr/cc)

The Secretary and the Lord

Mike Pompeo's confirmation as Secretary of State would bring a new level of religiosity to the State Department

It is going to be a whole new State Department! Mike Pompeo, when confirmed as Secretary of State, will bring a religious zeal to that institution that it almost certainly has never before enjoyed. Indeed, it may be that his enthusiasm for Christianity will convert the Department of State into a sort of missionary society, thus giving it an additional purpose to those purposes already described in the official website of the agency. The website says that the Department: "advances the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity, by leading America's foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance." With the advent of Mike Pompeo, the Department may alter its statement of purpose to add that it leads American foreign policy in order to promote Christianity throughout the world. If Mike's tenure at CIA is a guide, evangelism and confidence in the ability of Mike's Jesus to show the way, will almost certainly change State Department employees' views of their roles in the world of diplomacy.

The CIA, of course, has a different mission from the Department of State. The Mission Statement of the CIA says in part: "What We Do: CIA's primary mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security. This is a very complex process and involves a variety of steps. . . ." There is no reference to bringing Christian beliefs into the activities of the CIA. "Foreign intelligence" as used in the mission statement, was not intended by its drafters to refer to Jesus or God. That did not, however, prevent Mike from introducing them to the Agency.

Mike invoked Christianity in expressing his views about Muslims in a speech he gave in a church in Wichita, Kansas in 2014. Mike said that radical Muslims want "to wipe Christians from the face of the earth. . . . [T]hese folks are serious and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ, our Savior, is truly the only solution for our world." Adherents of Islam, the second largest religious group in the world, with more than one billion followers, would almost certainly find that a difficult proposition to accept.

After he became Director of the CIA, Mike announced plans to establish a chaplaincy on the CIA campus similar to what the military has at its installations. His speeches were reportedly infused with references to Christianity. He attends weekly prayer meetings in government buildings. According to a report, in Foreign Policy, there are concerns that his religious zeal is leaking into the CIA. Complaints from some employees are that supervisors want to hold Bible study sessions during work hours. Some of the senior people in the CIA are importuning lower ranking individuals at the agency to attend Bible study in the evenings. According to the report, veteran employees at the CIA are becoming estranged from the agency they have long enjoyed serving.

Responding to criticism of Mike's remarks during agency speeches and other activities invoking Christianity, a spokesperson for the CIA said: "Director Pompeo is a man of faith. The idea that he should not practice his faith because he is Director of CIA is absurd."

Those working at the State Department who lack Mike's Christian zeal, may view his advent to the department with some trepidation. Although it is too soon to know how he will affect the overall work at the State Department, he may be able to convert some of the empty offices at the State Department that Rex Tillerson decided to leave empty, into small places of worship that Department employees can slip into during the day, in order to enjoy quiet reflection. They may even be used for employees to try to convert some non-believers in the State Department.

The Pew Research Center reported that in 2010 there were 50 Muslim-majority countries. Mike will have to spend much of his time negotiating with leaders of the Muslim-majority countries where adherents to Islam live. It will be interesting to see how he convinces the leaders of those countries that in addition to whatever else they may be discussing, it is necessary for them to understand that, as he so eloquently put it in his 2014 speech: "Jesus Christ our Savior is truly the only solution for our world."

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