The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters
Old Pruitt recordings show him doubting evolution
The Trump administration's head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told a Oklahoma radio station in 2005 that there wasn't "sufficient" evidence for him to accept evolution as fact, Politico reported Friday.
Pruitt, then an Oklahoma state senator, told state radio station KFAQ-AM during a six-hour civics class-style conversation that the origins of mankind was less a "scientific" question than a "philosophic" one.
"There aren't sufficient scientific facts to establish the theory of evolution, and it deals with the origins of man, which is more from a philosophical standpoint than a scientific standpoint," Pruitt says in the tapes uncovered by Politico.
Pruitt oversees an agency responsible for scientific studies upon which the Trump administration will base environmental policy. In the past, the former lawmaker has also expressed skepticism for the scientific theory of climate change.
The theory of evolution states that modern man evolved over time rather than being created in its present form. Ninety-eight percent of scientists in the American Association for the Advancement of Science say they accept this as fact, compared to just 62 percent of the adult U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center.
In the same interview, Pruitt did not dispute a statement from the radio host claiming that Islam is "not so much a religion as it is a terrorist organization." The Oklahoma Republican defended the rights of Muslims to practice their faith in the U.S. so long as it isn't "manifested in violence."
"Our First Amendment should preserve the right of Hindus and Muslims to practice their faith. I believe that with all my heart. But what I don't agree with is that because of that relationship, if it is manifested in violence as Gwen is saying, that we don't have the right to deal with that," Pruitt said.
Presented with Pruitt's statements on the radio show, Republicans in Congress defended the EPA chief as a Christian whose beliefs naturally impact his work.
"All of us are people of faith and obviously influenced by our faith and the role it played in our life ... and continue[s] to play in our life on a daily basis," said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees Pruitt's agency. "It's a part of who we are."