President Trump's now-former pick for Army secretary once said government-assisted healthcare is an "injustice" because it hampers church-affiliated providers from converting people to Christianity.
Mark Green, a state senator in Tennessee, told a church group in 2015 that sickness is one of the main avenues that bring people to religion, but that citizens in the United States now instead rely on the government to help them, limiting the Christian church's role.
The comments shed more light on the conservative religious views that led Green, a physician and former Army flight surgeon, to withdraw his nomination on Friday after Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocacy groups raised an outcry in advance of his Senate confirmation hearings.
"The person who's in need … they look to the government for the answer, not God, and I think in that way government has done an injustice that's even bigger than just the creation of an entitlement welfare state," Green said. "In this setting, I'll share the story, I think it interrupts the opportunity for people to come to a saving knowledge of who God is."
Green has also spoken out against gay marriage, transgender bathroom rights and the teaching of Islam in public schools, all potential lightning rods for controversy when it comes to being confirmed as the Army's top civilian leader.
His supporters said he was being targeted for his faith. A spokesman for Green did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
But top Democrats called his past statements "disgusting" as well as "extreme and deeply disturbing," and a variety of advocacy groups urged the Senate to reject his nomination due to what they deem homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia.
Green, who has often spoken about his devout Christian faith, told the crowd in 2015 that he hoped to personally set up free healthcare clinics at churches throughout Tennessee. Green is the CEO of a for-profit emergency department staffing company that operates in several states.
"I see our sort of government-based assistance taking God out of the picture," Green said. "If you look at the Gospels and you go and study the Gospels, every person who came to Christ came to Christ with a physical need. It was either hunger or a disease."
Some argue those in the Bible scripture who suffered from "demon possession and asking to have that demon cast out was a spiritual need," but even that was manifest as physical health issues, according to Green.
"People go to God because of a physical need and they walk away with a spiritual need met," he said.
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said he was alarmed by the comments and that they were more proof that Green was unfit to be the Army secretary.
Green would likely view soldiers through the "prism of his religious views" and single out those who do not fit in with this faith, Weinstein said.
The military allowed gay troops to serve openly in 2011 and last year permitted service by transgender troops.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect that Green has withdrawn his nomination to be Trump's Army secretary.