An atheist group called The Freedom From Religion Foundation has condemned President Donald Trump's weekly White House bible study, calling the notion "disturbing."
The group also added that there should be a separation between what's done in the privacy of your free time as opposed to that done on the clock, noting that the Bible should "not [be read] in your official capacity and at your government desk."
In a press release Thursday, the group said, “Do it on your own time, not on the taxpayers’. In short, get off your knees and get to work."
It was reported earlier this week that bible studies are held weekly in the White House, attended by many high-ranking government officials including Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and others.
The study, led by founder of Capitol Ministries, Ralph Drollinger, has led Bible studies in both the House and Senate in addition to the White House.
“It’s the best Bible study that I’ve ever taught in my life,” Drollinger told the Christian Broadcasting Network in a July interview. “They are so teachable. They’re so noble. They’re so learned.”
Speaking with CBN, Drollinger gave specific praise to Pence, who he compared to Joseph, one of the most faithful characters in the Bible whose story is found in the last third of the book of Genesis.
“Mike Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh,” Drollinger said. “Mike Pence has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that’s not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And then fourthly, he brings real value to the head of the nation.”
Drollinger also singled out Sessions: “[Sessions will] go out the same day I teach him something and I’ll see him do it on camera and I just think, ‘Wow, these guys are faithful, available and teachable and they’re at Bible study every week they’re in town.'”
Trump doesn’t attend the studies, though Drollinger said the president has an open invitation. However, Drollinger does send Trump a copy of the study each week.
The meetings are significant, Drollinger told CBN, because it is likely the first Bible study among a group of Cabinet members in at least a century.
The atheist group, however, made claims that many members of the Trump cabinet have enough issue leaving their "personal religion separate from their public office."
“Each week, these pious politicians spend their time — your time, dear taxpayer — perusing a book that condones child sacrifice, slavery, misogyny and the subjugation of women, genocide, and eternal torture for those who believe differently,” the foundation's statement read. “If ever there were a book that government officials ought not to follow, it’s the Bible.”
Referencing their perception of Christianity and homophobia, the atheist group added, "That Drollinger has unfettered access to the highest levels of our government is scary and raises serious state-church concerns. For instance, all these messages have a direct impact on public policy, including on LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, the social safety net, the right to choose, environmental issues, and global climate change."