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April 11th, 2011
04:13 PM ET

U.S. ambassador faulted for faith writing and speaking

Douglas Kmiec, center, at a 2006 U.S. Senate hearing.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The U.S. ambassador to Malta has upset the State Department by devoting so much time to writing and speaking about faith-related issues, according to a report from the department’s inspector general released last week.

The ambassador, Douglas Kmiec, was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 after Kmiec helped spearhead Obama’s outreach to Catholic voters in the 2008 presidential campaign.

“Based on a belief that he was given a special mandate to promote President Obama’s interfaith initiatives, he has devoted considerable time to writing articles for publication in the United States as well as in Malta,” the State Department’s Inspector General’s Office said of Kmiec in an inspection report on the Maltese embassy released Thursday.

“His approach has required Department principals, as well as some embassy staff, to spend an inordinate amount of time reviewing his writings, speeches and other initiatives,” the report continued.

“His official schedule has been uncharacteristically light for an ambassador at a post of this size,” it said, “and on average he spends several hours of each workday in the residence, much of which appears to be devoted to his nonofficial writings.”

The State Department report did not cite specific instances of Kmiec’s faith-related writings and appearances, but said that "his unconventional approach to his role as ambassador has created friction with principal officials in Washington, especially over his reluctance to accept their guidance and instructions."

The ambassador, a former dean of Catholic University of America's law school, wrote in June about his father’s death for America, a weekly Catholic magazine. In an op-ed last year for The Times of Malta, Kmiec said Malta could provide a model for Obama as he pushed for health care reform.

“During Lent, as we prayerfully await the visit of the Holy Father to this largely Catholic place, it is fascinating for this visitor to contemplate how much Malta adds to the world's better understanding of itself,” Kmiec wrote in the op-ed, which ran as Pope Benedict XVI prepared to visit the island nation.

Kmiec has given many interviews to Malta-based media in which he has emphasized his belief that faith can be a key part of international diplomacy and has stated his disagreement with Obama’s support for abortion rights.

“President Obama is not pro-life,” Kmiec told the Malta Independent in 2009, “and we disagreed from the first time we met.”

Kmiec served as a top lawyer in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush but endorsed Obama in 2008, largely because he said Obama was willing to explore opportunities for common ground with conservatives on divisive issues like abortion.

Kmiec did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Times of Malta reported Sunday that Kmiec has added another faith-based event to his calendar. He’ll be lecturing Thursday on “the necessity of religious freedom for the common good’s good” at the University of Malta.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Politics

soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Byrd

    If he wants to be a preacher, then let him start a church. But he works for the State Department and he should either respect the separation of church and state or resign.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  2. Bob

    Problem with this story is that no one is questioning why we have an ambassador in Malta I am certain the duties in a "post that size" require about an hour per day. Fire the guy, do not fill the post and we have some more deficit reduction.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  3. D. Wilson

    Normally Im for separation of church and state.. but I think the world needs a little humility in grace these days..

    April 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  4. beyondo

    Regardless of your religious or political persuasion, this guy was hired by the government to do a particular job and he needs to spend his time doing it. The fact that he is being "faulted" for not doing his job is IMHO a good thing.
    Those of you who can't read a thing without being offended need to grow up and get over yourselves...

    April 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  5. dvn

    Government is no place for prayer... Church is no place for thought!

    April 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  6. MM

    Oh, so he used to gain Catholic votes but now they don't need him anymore. Seems like a double standard to me.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  7. Allison

    Shouldn't he be focusing on our larger problems like he is paid to do?

    April 12, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • 1gadawg

      Yeah – after all, Malta sure is a big player in the course of world events!! NOT!

      April 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  8. the_dude

    If he was writing about gays or muslims obama would build him a statue. I wonder if he regrets helping obama now?

    April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Rick

      Dude, shouldn't you be over at Fox, where facts never cloud ideology?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  9. tea

    What do you expect, he's not a Muslim. If he were, he would be praised by the administration.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Seraphim0

      Does it hurt being so delusional?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  10. Atheist

    Another moron in a government position. Big surprise. Sounds like he fits right in. Only troubling thing is, he probably gets paid with taxpayers Dollars. What a waste!

    April 12, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • 1gadawg

      What a moron! Of course he get's paid with taxpayer dollars! He is an Ambassador for the US and is employed by the US Government, where did you think the money comes from, Obumbl's money tree out back of the White House?

      April 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  11. ep to

    And from the first meeting it was obvious he was anti choice. That's what you get when you currie favor with religious freaks – favors have to be repaid.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Doug in Texas

      What group of people were behind the abolition movement (ending slavery) in England and in the United States? What group of people were the great majority of those who hid Jews at the risk of imprisoning their families in Hitlers' concentration camps when the Nazis took over Europe? What group is behind the vast majority of Humanitarian Aid Organizations the world over? What group of people are regularly slaughtered at the hands of Muslim extremists and no one speaks out about the intolerance of Islam? All "religious freaks" – followers of Jesus Christ.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • John Sharp

      Doug In Texas, your arguments are disingenuous. In the United States the Christians used "Manifest Destiny" as a reason to continue with the practice of slavery.
      Christianity has been a scourge on humanity. Not Christ, but his irrational followers.
      As Gandhi so ably put it, if only Christians would act like Christ then we would all be Christians.
      Unfortunately not the case, they spend so much time trying to impose their ancient and irrelevant belief systems on the rest of us who have actually evolved intellectually and emotionally.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Rich in NJ

      You should know that Malta's official state religion is Roman Catholicism and abortion is illegal in the nation. The ambassador's views are quite consistent with the nation he is assigned to.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  12. GoBruins!

    Why is a US diplomat promoting his own religious views in an official capacity?

    Religion is divisive and is known to cause war and conflict; how is promoting such views considered diplomatic?

    I don't get it!

    April 12, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  13. Henry Miller

    If this guy wants to write religious stuff, maybe he should get a job where that's part of the job description.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  14. Ray in Vegas

    I say get rid of him. He is a drain on taxpayer money and doesn't understand the meaning of separation of church and state. There will be some blowback, but Obama will deal with it. Give him the Presidential Boot in the ...

    April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  15. Mark

    "...as we prayerfully await the visit of the Holy Father..." I address no human being as Holy Father; my ONLY Holy Father is God.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • bam

      so your a descendant of him? can I see your family tree?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Mark

      @bam: Yes, you may see my family tree.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • BradLW

      Why is it almost always "Holy Father" instead of "Holy Mother, Brother, Sister, ...?

      Seems as though all the current probabilities make one just as implausible as the next!

      April 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Mark

      I address no human being as Reverend. No human being is to be revered; only God is to be revered.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  16. Sketti Monster

    Interesting that several posters on here, defending thier
    religion use the word "haters" on anybody that does no agree.
    Sorry, but i dont have the emotional investment to bother to "hate" anybody.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • IfSphere

      Though I bet the laws of physics would smite them should they ever actually put their faith to the test, and they don't like the truth of that.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • BradLW

      Many "religious" people are those who cling to their religion to combat the "insecurity/ies that possess them; many "insecure" people feel that they are being "persecuted"(hated) in one way or another so they feel the need to "hate" in return.

      Tis a great pity!

      April 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • JThomas

      The those people posting that are not real Christians (if they're claiming to be). Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, and our enemies, as we love ourselves. He taught us that the meek shall inherit the earth and to do good works without seeking recognition for them. He taught about peace. He changed the world without raising a fist or a sword. He changed the world through love.

      Unfortunately, too many so-called Christians act against the actual teachings of Jesus and then the rest of the world thinks that Christianity is about domination or forcing people to conform to their ideals, when in fact it is anything but that. Catholicism actually has very little to do with the actual teachings of Christ. Ironic, when you think of it.

      Peace and love to all.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  17. LouAz

    Has he written anything explaining why to this MINUTE not a single priest, bishop, arch bishop, cardinal, or poop has ever called any legal authority ANYPLACE in the world to report "possible" molesting of children by one of their priest ? His silence is his CONSENT ! Yea, yea, yea, jesus loves me . . . and how !

    April 12, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  18. steven harnack

    Time for him to resign. Pursue your own interests on your own dime.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • BnB

      Good idea but I don't really think Obama will resign...

      April 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  19. IfSphere

    Separation of church and state.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • bam

      exactly. KEEP YOUR FANTASY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS out of politics.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • JThomas

      Hilarious, Bam. Hilarious. While you mock people who have faith in a higher power, what do you believe in? The Big Bang? Evolution? While I also believe in those principles, they are THEORIES, just as you might presume that the belief in God is. Those theories all require faith. Unless, of course, you don't believe in anything, just that we're here on this rock at random and that when you die that's it, which is fine, but what's the point? I bet you believe in some things that require FAITH, whether you realize it or not, which makes you a hypocrite.

      While this article strains the imagination about why this diplomat is using government time for spreading his personal religious beliefs, 95% of the world's population believe in some form of a higher power. Does it make them right? No. But it's people like you, vocal atheists, who are making a mockery of themselves because believing that there is no god, that we are just random lifeforms floating through space, still requires FAITH in it. Good luck with your hypocritical, nihilistic life.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • OldGoat

      Separation of church and state.

      Exactly. An ambassador represents all citizens of the USA, not just the religious nut-jobs. Keep your fantasies and make-believe to yourself, Mr. Ambassador and use the secular approach to your business.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Reasons

      JThomas, You need to go to school. Theories are not based on faith. Look up the Scientific Method. You're a fool.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • K.

      @J:
      I see you're confusing Secularism AKA "Religious Neutrality" with Atheism "disbelief in God".
      And based off that first, very flawed point, you start going off on a nonsensical tangent.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • kvtrav

      Awesome response, JThomas! I only wish we could get that same message across to all atheists. It takes a LOT of faith to be an atheist.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • John Sharp

      I totally agree with BAM, you have an inalienable right to believe in anything you like. You can believe in Christianity, Greek Mythology, The Church of Scientology, or Mormonism.
      But as a Government Employee working as an Ambassador you have no business spending my tax dollars promoting any of these.
      He should be terminated with extreme prejudice. Like Thomas Jefferson I am a huge believer in separation of Church and State. It is a fundamental part of our democracy.
      It is so frustrating when people try to cross this line because they believe there should be an exception made for the their beliefs, of course which are the "right" beliefs.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • 'nough said

      separation of church and state.... is just that – to keep the state out of churches affairs, and to keep the state from unifying or consolidating to only one religion (like the church of england for example), not the other way around.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • tony

      @Jthomas – One doesn't have to believe (fantasize) in anything other than the real world of experience and the rational basis for it's existence. 99.999. % of children believe parents have power over them, and 100% that are told, believe in Santa Claus up to a certain age when they are explained properly or mature independently. Good doesn't need a God, and abstract Evil is purely another religious fantasy construct. You are the mental infant here.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'just that we're here on this rock at random and that when you die that's it, which is fine, but what's the point?'
      Thats just it, there is no point, we just are. We are nothing special, there is no puprose to us being here on this little rock, we are born, we live, we die, and the universe carries on without noticing.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  20. Sagebrush Shorty.

    Too bad he wasn't reaching out to Muslims. He would have a medal instead of a chewing-out.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • cmorcat

      You base this on what facts? I would like to look up what you've found out that the rest of world is unaware of.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Troy

      No, he would be killed by them for insulting their religion.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Rob

      In the real world – it's never a good idea to make nasty remarks behind your boss's back. Maybe it's different in the world of The Imaginary Friend who control every minute of your lives. The arrogance of the shallow minded is truly amazing! Do you really think your pitiful life is so important that it requires a SUPREME BEING to be in control?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Darryn Foley

      Most. Truthful. Statement. Ever.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Darwin SpaghettiMonster

      Should a grown man in a position of public power be rewarded for promoting ancient fairy tales over the agenda of his post?

      No. The sky man, single dad didn't create humanity just to worship him and obey some silly artificial rules + dietary restrictions. If he did, then he is a simple, egotistical, insecure deity.

      p.s. God cannot create himself, therefore, a guy named "god" is no explanation for our universe, or why there is something over nothing.... this naive excuse simply passes the buck one level up, and allows the weak+naive to feel protected...but this comes at the expense of introducing guilt, remorse, fear of eternal reprisal (as if), and the false sense of superiority (i.e. judging others)

      April 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.