A few days ago, America’s acting ambassador to China did a most curious thing. He resigned over President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Note that this person was posted in the capital of the world’s largest carbon polluter while representing the world’s second largest carbon polluter.
He’s not the first U.S. official to quit over Trump’s policies, nor will he be the last, but the way he did so and what he said while doing it has a religion ghost -– a religious element to the story that’s simply not covered -- as big as the White House itself.
It’s what this man said that got my attention. The Washington Post explains it this way:
The No. 2 diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing resigned Monday, telling staff his conscience would not permit him to formally notify the Chinese that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.
David H. Rank, a career Foreign Service officer of 27 years, had been acting ambassador until former Iowa governor Terry Branstad (R) was confirmed as the new ambassador last month. Rank held a town meeting with embassy employees to explain he had offered his resignation and it had been accepted.
As the head of the embassy until Branstad arrives, it was Rank’s responsibility to deliver a formal notification of the U.S. intention to withdraw from the climate pact.
According to a State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be more candid, Rank was unwilling to deliver the demarche.
He told his staff that as “a parent, a patriot and a Christian,” he could not in good conscience play a role in implementing President Trump’s decision to withdraw, according to a colleague familiar with Rank’s comments.
A parent, a patriot and a -– what?
I was hoping the article would elaborate on what Rank meant, but it did not. At least it placed the quote higher up (in the fifth paragraph) than did CNN, which placed it lower in the eighth paragraph.
What would make someone near retirement age (Rank is in his 60s) walk out at this point? His is the first resignation ever of a career Foreign Service officer over a policy disagreement.
What’s weirder is how some publications, like the Wall Street Journal, totally left out the parent/patriot/Christian remark. (Even more odd was how the overwhelming majority of the comments to the Journal’s piece were against Rank.)
I could find no article where the writer was interested in delving further. If he quit because of family, then who are these people? If he gave his faith as a reason, what stream of Christianity does he follow?
This post in Diplopundit answered the family question: The man is married with three kids. The piece also details the man’s sterling resume and important posts. I have a friend who was in the same Foreign Service entering class as was Rank and he didn’t get near the glamorous posts that Rank got. So this wasn't just any employee resigning here.
But I could find nothing on the religion angle.
No explanation of how Rank equated his stance on climate change with his faith.
Nothing about what denomination he is part of. (I mean, if Rank is Catholic reporters could pull Pope Francis into the story.)
For a lot of folks, climate change may or may not be important, but it’s not exactly something they pray about. With Rank, it was.
What a shame no one felt this was an angle important enough to write about.