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Secular groups decry Carson’s church and state comment

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Ben Carson

The Associated Press

FILE – In this Monday, June 12, 2017 file photo, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson speaks during a Cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Carson, a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church, pushed back at the separation of church and state during his GOP presidential primary campaign in 2016, touting the nation’s “Judeo-Christian foundation” to one Iowa voter. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Ben Carson, President Donald Trump’s housing secretary, has alarmed secular groups by remarking at a Monday Cabinet meeting that the separation of church and state “doesn’t mean that they cannot work together.”

Prayers at the start of Cabinet meetings are not new. But Carson’s comment has drawn sharp criticism from groups that say his words infringe on the principle of separation.

Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement that Carson’s commentary “is hypocritical and does a disservice to this constitutional principle.”

HUD spokeswoman Caroline Vanvick said Carson’s words speak for themselves.

“He simply used prayer to emphasize the value of every American, the need for civility, and the importance of morality,” Vanvick said.

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