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FIRST ON FOX: Several House Republicans are demanding answers from the Biden administration regarding a grant program the Republicans say will “promote atheism worldwide.”
Republican Study Committee (RSC) chairman Jim Banks of Indiana led the letter with 14 of his GOP colleagues to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s (DRL) grant program promoting atheism and “humanism.”
“The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) was officially titled ‘DRL FY20 IRF Promoting and Defending Religious Freedom Inclusive of Atheist, Humanist, Non-Practicing and Non-Affiliated Individuals,’” Banks and the Republicans wrote.
“It announced 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,” they continued.
The Republicans pointed out that atheism and “humanism” are both “official belief systems” protected under the First Amendment’s right to religious freedom and said they 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 system – atheist, humanist, Christian, Muslim, or otherwise.”
Banks and his colleagues wrote that 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.”
b”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 letter read. “Any such program – for any religiously-identifiable group – in the United States would be unconstitutional.”
“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,” it continued. “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 Republicans wrote that this is “not ‘religious freedom’” and the DRL’s NOFO on the subject “prioritizes atheists and humanists above all other potential recipients.” They also argued that the prioritization violates “both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses” as well as the “the No Religious Test Clause of Article VI” of the Constitution.
“In the NOFO, the State Department characterizes atheists as a unique religious group while then encouraging the building of “networks and advocacy groups” for atheists,” the letter read. “This would be analogous to official State Department promotion of religious freedom ‘particularly for Christians’ in China, with the express goal being to build a corresponding missionary network.”
“Obviously, this goal that would never pass constitutional muster and would be derided by radical leftist bureaucrats in your agency as completely out-of-bounds,” they continued. “So why is this atheist NOFO not viewed with similar objection?”
The lawmakers wrote that “Americans rightly discern this as a part of the broader effort on the part of your administration to promote radical, progressive orthodoxy abroad” and highlighted that 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. Other recent initiatives of the State Department include creating a ‘Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice,’ whose mission will be to spread Critical Race Theory and other progressive dogmas worldwide, and working to remove restrictions on abortion around the globe.”
Banks and his colleagues concluded the letter with a list of 12 questions regarding the grant program and how it helps U.S. foreign policy.
Joining Banks on the letter are several prominent Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Lisa McClain of Michigan, and Tim Walberg of Michigan.
Banks’ caucus is already taking steps to address the Biden administration’s adoption of leftward policies.
The RSC 2023 budget proposal would “ban any funds from going to any attempt by the State Department to promote anti-American ideas such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) or to allow the U.N. to audit the U.S. human rights record.”
“Last year, the State Department invited the U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on minority issues for an official visit to examine the U.S. human rights record,” the RSC budget reads. “The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism E. Tendayi Achiume, is a member of the critical race studies program and is a proponent of CRT.”
The Republicans’ letter comes as the Biden administration takes heat for its slew of liberal policies that have raised serious red flags.
From the failed attempt to establish a disinformation governance board to the State Department’s appointment of Desirée Cormier Smith as the Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice.
The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.