GOP lawmakers question constitutionality of State Department grants to spread atheism abroad

"The Biden administration is going to make it clear that they believe one of the reasons for our success is our acceptance of atheism and humanism," said Rep. Glenn Grothman.

Updated: July 23, 2022 - 11:40pm

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Republican lawmakers are questioning the constitutionality of a Biden State Department program to fund the spread of atheism and humanism internationally.

At the end of June, a group of 15 Republican members of Congress wrote to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken about a State Department funding program from April 2021 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."

Noting that both atheism and humanism "are official belief systems," the GOP legislators wrote, "Any such program — for any religiously-identifiable group — in the United States would be unconstitutional."

One of the lawmakers, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.), told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Thursday that the rest of the world looks up to the United States for various reasons, such as its freedoms and material wealth, and wonders what the secret is to America's success. 

"And the Biden administration is going to make it clear that they believe one of the reasons for our success is our acceptance of atheism and humanism," he said. "That's what they're going to do. That's what they're going to do with your tax dollars, you religious Americans — the Biden administration is going to take your tax dollars and promote atheism and humanism around the world."

While the program claims to promote atheism and humanism under the guise of religious freedom, "This is not 'religious freedom,'" the GOP letter argues.

The grant program, "like others we have reviewed, prioritizes atheists and humanists above all other potential recipients," the representatives wrote. "Not only does such a priority violate both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses, but also the No Religious Test Clause of Article VI of our nation's constitution."

The grant program would have been just as constitutionally problematic if it had promoted religious freedom for Christians in China "with the express goal being to build a corresponding missionary network," the lawmakers explained.

In a footnote, however, the letter cites a Heritage Foundation report regarding "the preeminence of faith, and Christianity in particular, in America's founding and history."

Observing that atheism has long been the shared "religion" of progressives and communists, Grothman said, "[A]s our country becomes more and more close to Communist, as we get more and more progressives in the government, I don't think it should be surprising that Joe Biden wants to educate the world that one of the reasons for our success is, apparently, our belief in atheism."

He urged the "slumbering America clergy" to "wake up" and warn Americans of the Biden administration's promotion of atheism. 

If the "administration were giving out grants to promote Catholicism" or Mormonism, "the liberals would be up in arms," Grothman argued. "But when we send out grants to promote atheism, the mainstream media, the popular culture, they are quiet."