Senior officials of Donald Trump administration, including Vice President Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are now frequent attendees at the Weekly Bible study classes at the White House, according to a story on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
The CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have been among the participants, and President Trump does attend, and when he is absent, he receives a copy of the Bible lesson, according to the report.
There was no immediate response to queries about this from the White House, the vice president’s office or the Education, or Health and Human Services departments. A CIA spokesman said he could not comment.
A Justice Department spokesperson said Sessions does attend the White House Bible study sessions when he is in town.
Trump administration is not the first to host weekly Bible study classes at the White House. During the tenure of former president George W. Bush, some White House staff members held weekly prayer and Bible study sessions, and during that administration, John Ashcroft held daily Bible studies at the Justice Department when he was attorney general.
There are no rules against studying the Bible in a federal building, though the U.S. government issued rules in 1997, titled “Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace,” that stresses the importance of supervisors being careful not to press employees into participating in any way.
“Because supervisors have the power to hire, fire or promote, employees may reasonably perceive their supervisors’ religious expression as coercive, even if it was not intended as such,” the guidelines say. “Therefore, supervisors should be careful to ensure that their statements and actions are such that employees do not perceive any coercion… and should, where necessary, take appropriate steps to dispel such misperceptions.”
Trump has had strong support from the country’s evangelical community. A few weeks ago, a photo was made public showing some evangelical leaders laying hands on Trump in the Oval Office as he bowed in prayer.