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. Reality

    Maybe we can save the ambassador some time:----------------

    Saving Christians from the Great Resurrection Con Game:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology grad school professor's white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    o p.4

    o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    April 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  2. SheilaKA

    So, what?

    April 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  3. Corvus

    He believes in an all-powerful, all-knowing, supernatural, invisible deity– specifically of the male gender– who he believes created the entire universe and everything in it, including the first two human beings on the face of the earth, whom he subsequently punished for disobedience, they and *their descendandts for all time, * decreeing that the ONLY way to appease his displeasure for their sin was through BLOOD ATONEMENT, of animals at first; but who later changed 'His' mind and decided to incarnate himself on the face of the earth, in order to commit an act of SELF-DEICIDE in fulfillment of the BLOOD ATONEMENT he had demanded in the first place; and that anyone who believes all of this, is going to be rewarded with 'Eternal Life' in Heaven with Jesus forver and ever.


    April 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm |

    obama does not work Fridays.

    April 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  5. steelerguin

    We have so many problems in this country and overseas that this "concern" is a little overblown. There can't be that much to do in Malta other than overseeing exporting of those little white dogs. Last time I checked we weren't at war with Malta so I guess he is doing OK. Give the guy a break.

    April 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Fupped Duck

    If I could quote "The Donald".....Kmeic...You're Fired!!! Get this piece of work off my tax bill & put someone in that actually does something for us.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  7. earth

    sarah palin is a disaster.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  8. Isaiah55

    Have any of you who deny he Bible and the truth of it, and deny that God exists, have you ever studied the old Testament and fulfillment of those things that were told way ahead of time that would happen to Israel and some of the other peoples in those books? If you aren't scared of the truth, look at those fulfillments and then try to convince yourself there is no God.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  9. JoeT

    Er, ths guy is ambassador to Malta. How much work can that be, anyways? I would imagine if I were in that post, I'd be finding ways to sink my time as well. We should be glad he's spending time writing tracts instead of pursuing other Maltese attractions.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  10. Isaiah55

    The Bible says "the fool has said in his heart there is no God." So not really any atheist, only fools that try to convince themselves there is no God. You can either acknowledge Him now or do so later. The Bible says "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Actually because of the mercy of God, He would rather you do it now, but if you choose not to now, then you will later whether you believe it or not.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  11. Muhammad

    Jesus was not crucified nor killed but God raised him unto Himself.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      How surprising....

      April 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  12. Buster Bloodvessel

    The article is about a guy who's taking a federal paycheck to write silly articles about faith instead of doing his job. Is he just helping the other conservatives waste our tax money, or is he addled in the brain? Instead, you guys are arguing over Jesus:Friend or Foe.
    You can't settle a question of faith with words.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Alan Dean Foster

    "His official schedule has been uncharacteristically light for an ambassador at a post of this size."

    A "post of this size"? This is Malta we're talking about. What does the State Dept. consider a small post? Monaco? Lichtenstein?

    April 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  14. Mike

    Even the pope was under charges of helping a little boy loving priest get out of the US, until he was made the pope, and then Bushy boy says we can't prosecute heads of state, so all charges were dropped.. what bull sh$t all so called christians are!!!!

    April 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  15. JAB

    If he can't stop prosthelytizing where ever he goes boot his ass. There should be no more room for religion.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  16. IfSphere

    I love when religious infighting shows the truth for everyone. Catholics and protestants... you're all probably wrong, why fight over which wrong is better? "My fanciful myth is the only TRUE myth!!!" say the protestants. "Well you're myth is just a re-hashing of our REAL myth!!!!" retort the catholics. What about the other voices????

    "Our myth is parallel to, but separate from your myths!!!!" shout the muslims.
    "All your myths are bad translations of OUR translation of the jewish myth!!!" announce the ancient Greeks.
    "But they're ALL based on our REAL TRUE myth!!!!" protest the jews.
    "But even THAT came about as monotheism evolved out of our TRUE religion of sun worship!!!!" countered the ancient Egyptians.
    "Yeah!!! When it got stapled to OUR story of Gilgamesh... the only ACTUAL REAL TRUE prophet!!!!" added the ancient Babylonians.
    "But it's ALL really from tribal, pagan mysticism... we just didn't write any of it down." offered the voice of humans long-dead. And, since they are not yelling, I think I'll listen to them.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • excitizen

      I think I love you too xo

      April 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  17. Free Thinker Seeking Reason

    It is absurd that this man's religious indoctrination activities during his working hours are paid for by federal taxpayer dollars. He should be fired IMMEDIATELY.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Jonsie

      We probably all realize by now that Obama was only religious during his run for President. I haven't seen much evidence since he took office and now matter how much the left bashes Christians, this country was founded on "Under God"!

      April 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Emmaleah

      @Jonsie That's the most absurd thing you could say, and yet people keep saying it. It's simply NOT TRUE. "Under God" was not added to patriotic recitations until mid-20thC. Look it up. The US was founded specifically on humanist values that rejected the interference of any religion.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Rick in JP

      Reprimanded, yes. But not fired. I don't believe anything I've seen indicates this gentleman to be a hate monger. As an employee, he will need to be reminded a federal government workplace is not to be used as a platform for proselytizing. Even non-believers need to be reminded to keep their thoughts to themselves at work from time to time.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Free Thinker Seeking Reason

      @ Jonsie

      The United States was founded as a SECULAR nation, with both freedom of religion and freedom from religion, and most definitely NOT as a Christian nation or a nation under some deity. Read the Consti-tution, the Bill of Rights, the Establishment Clause, or any legitimate biography of Jefferson. People were meant to be free to believe or not believe, but at no time was it ever government's responsibility to indoctrinate its consti-tuents in religion.

      It was not until the mid 1950's that Congress injected "under god" into the pledge of allegiance and the money was defaced with "in god we trust", both as an overreaction during the McCarthy era to provide ideological posturing in opposition to the spy tactics of the Soviet Union. Much. Too. Far.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  18. Descarado

    CNN has a rather eclectic business model composed of blacks, gays, Muslims, evangelical atheists and 24/7 Sarah Palin haters. One wonders, once Sarah evaporates, who will pay CNN's bills since the EA's and the gays seem to overlap?

    April 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Pete

      I wouldn't worry too much. Evn in a de-Palinized, post-Beck world, there should still be more than enough right wing crazy going around to keep us do-gooder, tree-hugging heathens lathered up into a proper frenzy.

      Eg, it looks like the guy who invented Obamacare is going to be a frontrunner for decrying it from the rooftops. OMG MY HEAD JUST EXPLODED!!!!!!

      April 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Free Thinker Seeking Reason

      @ Descarado

      1) Atheism is NOT a religion, no matter how many times the religionists try to label it as such. It is based on reason and logic, not supersti-tion and dogma, thus negating any religious definition. Atheist "belief" is based on empirical scientific knowledge, not made up fairy tales as is the case with religion. People who belong to a particular religion don't usually believe in any others; atheism just goes one further because none of them are literally true.

      2) Atheist and gay rights activism overlap somewhat because both groups are driven by values such as fairness and equality. GLBT people want an even playing field with the heterose-xual majority. Atheists want a society based on reason, not supersti-tion. While religious people have the right to believe in what they want, that belief is, at best, served as a moral compass and not a literal theocratic directive that inflicts faith-based terror and fear on the uneducated gullible masses.

      Atheism has grown in popularity and acceptance in large part over the years as a reaction to the sheer insanity of religious extremists. It strives to combat religious intolerance and fight social bigotry, something that many religionists continue not to understand.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Michael

      Oh noes!!! The Atheists are coming, to educated the masses with evidence and facts. Not only that Atheists won't pander and fear monger you with their tactics, there is no magic threat of torture so they can't even rally up people to do disgusting things!!!!!

      April 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Dan

      @Free Thinker Seeking Reason

      Free thinker? You have already closed your mind on religion. So what you are saying is that if someone chooses to believe in God and gets warm feelings over it, that is crazy. But if someone wants to pay money to see a shrink and take drugs for that same effect, that is normal? If someone uses the bible as a path to grow as a person and succeed in life, that is crazy, but if someone pays for advice, that is normal? Oh, and that logic you claim is so solid...remember that science continues to improve, but there are still mistakes. It is built largely on theories, not entirely on laws.
      And finally, we all die. It should not matter to you at that point.....unless there really is a God.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • sassypants

      I"m sick of atheists who think they know more than the God who created them.

      Dear God, may their numbers dwindle until there are none left. Thank You.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Rick

      "It should not matter to you at that point.....unless there really is a God." Dan

      If this god values reason over blind faith (the mindset, not the rock group), dogma drones could be in trouble

      Having faith is not crazy. Preaching to others like it is a fact is

      April 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Rick

      sassypants: no one can feel they know more or less than beings in which they do not believe

      April 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Free Thinker Seeking Reason

      @ Dan

      I clearly acknowledged that people are allowed to believe in what they want as long as they use their faith as a moral compass and not a literal theocratic directive to be inflicted upon others. I actually thought that was more than reasonably fair.

      I'm not sure how shrinks and drugs play into the discussion. I think this means more to you, and that's fine, but I can't relate, sorry.

      The beauty of scientific research is that it is based on evidentiary findings and subsequent peer review, unlike religion which is more like agreement by decree and subsequent acceptance through indoctrination. Please look up the terminology of what consti-tutes a scientific theory, such as the law of gravity, which you probably readily accept, even if the weak forces are still not understood well enough at the quantum level, or the theory of evolution, which for all intents and purposes is also a law because it is the foundation for many other fields of science such as biology, geology, genetics, germ theory, etc. Science is ALWAYS open to new ideas worth testing if it can improve our understanding of how the universe works, but this necessarily does not include previously debunked pseudoscience or religious creationism.

      I actually have a very open mind, open enough to recognize that religion is overly based on fictional stories that too many people take literally, and that the probability of sky gods is essentially negligible. It is usually religious people who have closed minds that may lead to prejudice, bigotry, lack of scientific curiosity, unhealthy supersti-tious indoctrination of youth, fear mongering, war in the name of their deity, and suffering in general. Personally, I think truth based thinking and secular values will go a lot farther in helping society than continuing to perpetuate bronze-age mythologies that suppress and brainwash the masses. Your choice.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  19. What about Malta

    I think you guys are missing the point. My understanding is that Popeye is from Malta or has spent significant amounts of time there. I don't think it is a smart idea to disrespect Popeye. When it comes to a bar fight, I think we want Popeye on our side.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • IfSphere

      For real??? The moderators have to review THAT? (see my above joke, which they thought might be too saucy)

      April 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  20. CatholicMom

    So you wish to start another heresy…proclaiming two Jesus’? How many will read your post and actually believe you…which would be causing others to fall…the very thing you accuse atheists of doing. And tell me, why do you not care for the atheist? Are you not to love your neighbor as yourself…no picking and choosing like you do Bible verses…all people are your neighbor. Do you not want all souls saved just as Jesus does?

    Why would you think that God could not have saved Mary at her conception so that He would have a pure vessel inwhich to become Jesus Incarnate? Aren’t all things possible for God? He will enter no stained vessel…not ours either until we are cleansed by Baptism and then we must persevere in it. Just as no unclean soul will enter Heaven, Jesus will not enter or remain in an unclean soul.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • magicman

      your post is too silly to comment on any further...

      April 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Become rational

      What a lunatic! no wonder America is last in Math and Science

      April 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Michael

      "So you wish to start another heresy…proclaiming two Jesus’? "

      Yeah because you having 1 magic man is completely sane, but 2 is so radical it defies the laws of physics, oh wait 1 magic man defies the laws of physics, so why are you even having this conversation of ill-conceived notions? Kind of stupid honestly.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Fupped Duck

      The Jolly Green Giant is coming!!! Religious people are ridiculously devoted to some guy floating on a cloud who is going to come back & make everything better...Get a real life.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:57 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.