An education secretary who supports school vouchers to get more children into private religious schools. A White House strategist whose ex-wife accused him of anti-Semitism. A national security adviser who called Islam “a political ideology hiding behind a religion.”
After a campaign in which President-elect Donald Trump was accused of trafficking in bigotry and hatred, and of changing his views to win the conservative religious vote, he is choosing Cabinet members who have made controversial statements on religious and ethical issues.
Here is a list of some of the appointees and what they have said and done with regards to religion.
Several media outlets report former Governor of Texas Rick Perry will be President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Energy, the body Perry famously could not name as a candidate in the 2012 election. Perry campaigned in that election on the promise to dismantle the department he is now picked to lead.
Rick Perry is an outspoken evangelical Christian. As governor of Texas he organized a prayer rally that drew 30,000 people to a Houston stadium where a parade of Republican candidates appeared alongside religious leaders in prayer. The event drew condemnation from church-state separationists.
Perry is on the record as stating the U.S. was founded on “Christian values.” He has called evolution “one of the theories that is out there” with “some gaps in it” and mistakenly claimed while governor that Texas public schools teach creationism — something the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. He has called climate change science “a contrived, phony mess.”
When Perry ran for president in 2012, he likened it to a ministry he felt called to and said his candidacy was “God’s will.” He and his wife attend the evangelical Lake Hills Church in Austin.
The 64-year-old outgoing chief of Exxon Mobil is Trump’s pick as Secretary of State. Tillerson is a Christian, and a long-time member of a Congregationalist church in Texas. His church is a member of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, a denomination with links to the Puritans that is made up of about 400 fully autonomous congregations.
Not a lot is known about Tillerson’s personal religious beliefs, but he is a life-long member of the Boy Scouts of America, which has links to Christianity. But as head of the Scouts, Tillerson advocated to open its membership to gay youth.
And while some of Trump’s picks are known creationists and science deniers, Tillerson took Exxon Mobil to a position of recognizing the science that shows climate change is linked to mankind’s use of fossil fuels.
Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, is Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Pruitt is a member of First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Okla., where he has served as a deacon. First Baptist is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, which has opposed marriage equality, reproductive rights for women and LGBTQ rights, including bathroom access for transgender people.
Pruitt is on the record about some of these things. He approved of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold an employer’s right to deny birth control access to employees on the basis of religious objections. He sought an injunction to prevent transgender bathroom access, and he said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.
He is also a known climate change denier, though it is unclear if that is linked to his religious views.
Dr. Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon-turned-Republican presidential nominee-turned-Trump supporter, has been nominated to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A Seventh-day Adventist who has been baptized twice, he spoke about his faithduring the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast speech, blasting both Obamacare and political incorrectness.
During the 2016 election cycle, he said he believed the world literally was created in six days, as some but not all conservative Christians do. He confirmed that in a 17-year-old video he said the biblical Joseph built the pyramids in Egypt to store grain (they are really Pharaohs’ tombs). And he tried to link Hillary Clinton to Lucifer.
Other controversial opinions he voiced during the campaign were that he “would not agree with” electing a Muslim to be president and that Islam was not consistent with the U.S. Constitution.
“Dr. Carson’s views on Islam, American Muslims and the world are dangerously ill-informed and could negatively impact any government agency he heads,” said Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Carson is also a climate change skeptic, stating, “there is always going to be either cooling or warming going on.”