The atheist groups, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left wing advocacy group founded by David Brock, are suing HUD and Ben Carson for not reimbursing them for the Freedom Of Information Act requests through which information on the Bible studies were discovered.
These groups have a problem with several members of the White House Cabinet participating in a weekly Bible study. Ben Carson attends the weekly Bible study, along with other members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet, led by Ralph Drollinger, founder of Capitol Ministries.
The list of Bible study attendees includes officials whose appointments FFRF objected to because of their inability to keep their personal religion separate from their public office: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and, of course, Secretary Ben Carson, the surgeon whom President Trump tapped to run Housing and Urban Development. (Trump himself rarely makes an appearance.)
The suit was filed on January 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit alleges that HUD has a pattern and practice of denying fee waivers on Freedom of Information Act requests "where disclosure of the requested documents is likely to cast the agency or HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a negative light." The atheist groups want to be sure that no beverages or bagels consumed in the Bible Study are paid for by federal funds, and that no White House staff members are coerced to participate in the Bible studies.
Ben Carson himself weighed in on the lawsuit in a Wednesday Facebook post, denying any wrongdoing and declaring defiantly:
I refuse to be intimidated by anti-religious groups into relinquishing my spirituality or religious beliefs. One of the principles of our nation‘s founding is freedom of religion. I will not stop being a Christian while in service to this country, in fact, it is my faith that helps me serve the nation even better.
"Taxpayer funds are not used to support the ministry," Carson noted. "And secondly, no staff are involved in the Bible study."
Carson’s post was ‘liked’ over 31 thousand of times and shared over twelve thousand, at the time of this article.
The Bible study teacher, Pastor Ralph Drollinger, is well-known to some members in the California congressional delegation — and not just because he is a 7-foot-1 former UCLA basketball star.
He is the evangelical spiritual leader who once counseled a group of Sacramento lawmakers that female politicians with young children have no business serving in the Legislature.
"It is one thing for a mother to work out of her home while her children are in school," wrote Drollinger, a Californian who created a group called Capitol Ministries to teach evangelical interpretations of the Bible to politicians. "It is quite another matter to have children in the home and live away in Sacramento for four days a week. Whereas the former could be in keeping with the spirit of Proverbs 31, the latter is sinful."
Drollinger's comments invoked a firestorm of accusations that was a misogynist and "Out of touch with the times."
Drollinger also declared that Roman Catholicism "is one of the primary false religions in the world" — precipitating his Bible study group's move out of a suite of offices controlled by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Catholic.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of atheists and agnostics, and has been working since 1978 to keep faith and government separate. With more than 30,000 members and 20 chapters all over the country, the organization also educates the public about nontheism.
"So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God" (Daniel 6:4-5).