A Southern Baptist lawmaker picked by President Trump as Secretary of the Army withdrew his nomination May 5, saying criticism of his past voting record and public comments had become a distraction.
“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” Tennessee State Sen. Mark Green, a former Army doctor who wrote a book about his experience treating and interrogating Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on the night of his capture, said in a statement.
“While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the President the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world,” said Green, a member of Southern Baptist-affiliated Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tenn.
Green’s nomination, announced April 7, drew criticism from a number of advocacy groups for past remarks on a variety of hot-button issues. His confirmation appeared headed for trouble when Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) described comments attributed to Green as “very concerning” and said he was hearing questions about the nomination from both Republicans and Democrats.
As a state senator, Green supported legislation allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT persons for moral reasons, requiring transgender students to use restrooms corresponding to their birth sex and allowing mental health professionals to refuse treatment to patients based on the practitioner’s religious beliefs. He introduced a bill barring “sanctuary cities” in Tennessee.
Past comments dug up by media sources quoted Green as saying that being transgender is a disease, apparently agreeing with someone who said Muslims don’t belong in the United States and explaining a mysterious rise in the number of Latinos registering to vote in Tennessee by saying they were “being bused here probably.”
Green once gave a lecture arguing against the theory of evolution. He told a pro-gun rally the Second Amendment allows citizens to possess whatever weapons the military uses. He described his role as a lawmaker as one to create an environment where “evil is crushed,” citing Romans 13 as authority for his policies barring refugees from Syria and transgender-inclusive restrooms.
Green complained last month on Facebook that the “liberal left” was “cutting and splicing my words to paint me as a hater.”
Supporters of Green said he was being singled out for criticism because of his religious beliefs.
“I don’t think there is any question that he is being targeted for his Christian faith,” said retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, an executive vice president at the Family Research Council.
Green, who was running for governor before his nomination as Army Secretary, said he was honored that Trump would pick him and that he looks forward “to finding other opportunities to use our gifts to serve others and help Make America Great Again.”