The minister leading a Bible study for members of the Cabinet is anti-LGBT, anti-Catholic, and sexist.
Ralph Drollinger, president of Capitol Ministries, leads what is reportedly the first Bible study group for Cabinet members in at least 100 years. Ten Cabinet members are sponsors of the group, which meets every Wednesday in a location kept secret for security purposes. Regular attendees, according to a recent BBC report, include Vice President Mike Pence. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo, who has been CIA director. Donald Trump is not a member, but he approves of the group and receives transcripts of Drollinger’s presentations.
Drollinger’s Bible studies are available on the website for Capitol Ministries, which has a stated aim to “evangelize elected officials and lead them toward maturity in Christ,” Newsweek reports. In addition to the Cabinet group, Capitol Ministries runs Bible studies for elected officials in 43 states and more than 20 non-U.S. locations. The Cabinet group started when several people who’d been in Drollinger’s Bible studies for Senate and House members were named to Trump’s Cabinet, and they asked him to run a group for Cabinet members, Drollinger said in an interview with the BBC.
Drollinger has frequently preached against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. In a Bible study this year quoted by Newsweek, he said, "Homosexuality and same-sex ceremonies are illegitimate in God's eyes. His word is repetitive, perspicuous, and staid on the subject."
In 2013 he made similar comments in a study addressed to the federal government, according to Newsweek. “Not only is homosexuality and same sex marriage voided by God in His Word, but biology as well castigates homosexuality and same sex marriage: The ultimate outcome is the discontinuation of the species since homosexuals cannot procreate. For sure one cannot be a homosexual and an evolutionist at the same time,” he said. But he told the BBC he doesn’t endorse Old Testament provisions calling for death to gay people, saying, "I think that was for [ancient] Israel, but it's not for the church."
In 2004 he called Catholicism “one of the primary false told the BBC. “And those are clear in Scripture … it doesn't mean, in an egalitarian sense, that a woman is of lesser importance."
He also has said the Bible endorses capitalism. "The right to personal property, also known as free enterprise or capitalism, is the governmental economic system supported by scripture. Scripture does not support communism," he once wrote. He has condemned indebtedness, writing, "It is bad stewardship and downright foolishness for an individual, family, or country to borrow in order to cover expenses that far, far exceed income!" (No word on what he thinks about the recent Trump-backed tax cuts, which are addition to the U.S. deficit.)
Drollinger said he’s not a “Christian nationalist,” as he has been called, and he believes in the separation of church and state. But he is definitely advising elected officials.
He said a Democratic lawmaker recently came to him because she was having trouble supporting her party on same-sex marriage. He gave her his view but didn’t tell her how to vote, he told the BBC. "But at the same time, she's going to have to think, what's different between that and a prostitute?” he said. “A prostitute sells her soul to maintain a salary. Are you as a Christian legislator, growing in Christ, selling your convictions in order to stay making a salary, or have influence? … I'll never say it that graphically to a member. But you get my idea."
He also said he gets positive feedback from Trump on his Bible studies. "He writes me back notes on my Bible studies," he told the BBC ."He's got this leaky Sharpie felt-tip pen that he writes all capital letters with. 'Way to go Ralph, really like this study, keep it up.' Stuff like that."
Several LGBT groups condemned Drollinger’s involvement with high-level government officials. “People look to their faith as a source of guidance and inspiration—and LGBTQ people and our family and friends are no different,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement to Newsweek. “Drollinger’s influence and involvement in the current administration is not only driving a wedge between faith communities and the LGBTQ community, but it is turning back the clock on progress with the spread of even more divisive rhetoric throughout the highest ranks of government.”
And Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, told the publivation, "Make no mistake; this is no mere study group. This organization has targeted American government officials, so it has by definition sought to blur the line between church and state. Their anti-woman and anti-LGBTIQ views matter because the highest levels of American government are listening to them. Members of the president's Cabinet must immediately withdraw their sponsorship of this organization."