The State Department is refusing to tell House Republicans which atheist organizations abroad are recipients of United States government grants, Fox News Digital reported.
GOP sources familiar with the matter told the outlet that Mariah Mercer of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom would not disclose which atheist organizations are receiving grants abroad, citing “security concerns.”
“The sources said that the grants are favoring atheists over non-atheists and that the grants are primarily going to individuals and organizations in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia — all heavily Muslim regions,” according to the report.
The most recent report comes months after House Republicans sent letters to the State Department questioning Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about a program that would award grants of up to $500,000 of taxpayer funds “to organizations committed to the practice and spread of atheism and humanism, namely in South/Central Asia and in the Middle East/North Africa.”
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) August 2, 2022
Sources told the outlet that the State Department has been “stonewalling” them about the grant program for six months, and claimed that they are “working on it” when asked to compile a list of countries where the grant money is being sent.
“They also said the State Department officials cited security concerns when asked about the grants themselves and that the department officials refused to say how they defined success in the program,” the report states. “The department told the lawmakers and staff that the grants are to protect the religious freedoms of atheists in other countries but, after six months, they still haven’t said who is receiving the money.”
Republican lawmakers and staff said they are considering using the House oversight power to subpoena the State Department for the information when they take the majority in 2023.
Republican Study Committee (RSC) chairman Jim Banks of Indiana, who organized the call, told Fox News Digital that after “6 months and multiple letters the Biden State Department is still hiding basic information about their funding of atheism abroad.”
“They know that the details would outrage American taxpayers and they’re worried they’d also expose the program as unconstitutional,” Republican Study Committee (RSC) Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) said. “Congress gave them this money but apparently we’re not allowed to know which countries are getting the money—it’s insane.”
“In just a few short weeks Republicans will retake the majority and we absolutely should use the compulsory process to force the Biden State Department to release this information,” he continued.
The State Department declined Fox News Digital’s request for comment.