Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Monday called on the Department of Justice to immediately halt federal funding to the Nation of Islam, after the Washington Examiner first reported that the group has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government to teach religious studies programs to prison inmates.
In a letter to the Justice Department obtained by the Washington Examiner, Buchanan called the report “disturbing” and said the government’s funding of the openly anti-Semitic black separatist group was “downright immoral.”
“As you may know, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have designated the Nation of Islam as a hate group for its racist and anti-Semitic beliefs,” Buchanan wrote in the letter to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
“The federal government should not use taxpayer dollars to subsidize one of the most infamous hate groups in the United States,” Buchanan added. “That’s why I’m demanding your department immediately cease all contracts with the Nation of Islam and prohibit it from receiving any contracts in the future.”
Buchanan also asked the Department of Justice to “undertake a full review of all ongoing and future contracts to ensure that the U.S. government is not financing domestic or foreign hate groups.”
The Nation of Islam, a black nationalist group run by Louis Farrakhan, preaches that white people are “blue-eyed devils” and Jews are “the synagogue of Satan.” Its leaders have received at least $364,500 in contracts and awards from the Department of Justice, through the Bureau of Prisons, between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2019.
The funding was designed to provide “Nation of Islam religious services,” “Nation of Islam spiritual guide services,” “Nation of Islam study services,” and other related programming led by the organization’s leaders, according to Bureau of Prison records.
One of the organization’s key texts, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” claims that Jews were responsible for the transatlantic slave trade and rigged the world economic system to disenfranchise black people.
The Bureau of Prisons declined last month to provide any details about the contracts, including what year they began and what Nation of Islam reading materials were used for the program. “Contracts are retained six years after final payment, so we are not able to provide details regarding the original contract on which the Nation of Islam began contracting with the Bureau of Prisons,” a spokesperson told the Washington Examiner.
The spokesperson cited a regulation that federal correctional institutions “may contract with representatives of faith groups in the community to provide specific religious services which the chaplain cannot personally deliver due to, ordinarily, religious prescriptions or ecclesiastical constraints to which the chaplain adheres.”
The Nation of Islam declined to comment to the Washington Examiner last month. However, one of the group’s leaders defended the federal funding in a subsequent blog post, calling it “a great benefit and blessing to the American Penal System.”