(image, right: Health and Human Services head Tom Price’s endorsement of pastor Ralph Drollinger’s “CivicReach” effort, from the Capitol Ministries 20th Anniversary Report)
An article on the website of Ralph Drollinger’s Capitol Ministries titled “Pence, Sessions, Pompeo Illustrate: To Heal our Land Make Disciples of Jesus Christ” states,
“President-elect Trump has named U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director, has offered U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions the position of U.S. Attorney General, and picked Mike Pence as vice-president-elect.
All three men are long-time sponsors of the Members Bible Studies that Ralph Drollinger, President of Capitol Ministries, teaches to U.S. Congressmen on the Hill in Washington, D.C.”
The article begins with statement, “For 20 years, Capitol Ministries mission has been: Making disciples of Jesus Christ in the political arena throughout the world.” It quotes Capitol Ministries President Drollinger,
“Are Pence, Sessions, and Pompeo, who are all strong followers of Jesus Christ, illustrative of God answering the prayers of His people? Yes. But they serve to illustrate much more…
Suddenly these men who have been discipled by the Church are in prominent positions of authority to change the course of America in ways that are biblical.”
Along with Pence, Sessions, Price and Pompeo, another advertised sponsor of Drollinger’s ministry is Texas Republican Congressman Michael Conaway, who in early April 2017 was tapped to head the House Intelligence Committee investigation into accusations of Russian tampering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Thus, Congressman Conaway may at times participate in Capitol Ministries bible study sessions with Trump administration officials near the center of the investigation.
Pastor Drollinger is an imposing, nearly seven foot tall former professional basketball player turned evangelist who got his start on the evangelical right serving on the touring basketball team of Athletes in Action, a subsidiary of the virulently anti-LGBT rights ministry Campus Crusade For Christ. After a career in Christian sports ministry, in 1997 he founded the now quite well-funded Capitol Ministries – which initially targeted, in its evangelizing efforts, politicians in Sacramento, CA. and soon provoked more than a bit of controversy :
In 2004, as noted in the San Diego Tribune, Ralph Drollinger’s efforts to evangelize in California’s capitol and state legislature hit a snag because of a comment of his, concerning the Catholic Church, that he saw fit to publish in his ministry newsletter. “It’s the world’s largest false religion,” declared pastor Drollinger.
Whereupon, the incensed California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Catholic, expelled Drollinger’s ministry from the CA governor’s offices. The San Diego Tribune story didn’t address the issue of why Drollinger was ensconced in Schwarzenegger’s office complex in the first place. But, clearly, Drollinger’s broad hint that the Roman Catholic Church is probably the “false religion” expected to partner with the coming Antichrist – whom many evangelical Protestant end-timers expect will soon lay waste to the Earth and slaughter its peoples – crossed some lines.
Around the same time, Drollinger provoked more controversy by stating that female legislators were sinning by leaving their children at home. In response, angry female California legislators with children showed up to work wearing aprons featuring the scarlet letter “M”.
Then, in 2009 (as reported in California’s Capitol Weekly), when Drollinger’s ministry was pulling in a reported $2.3 million dollars a year in contributions and claimed to have satellite operations in 22 state capitals, his controversial comments led to a split within his own ministry and provoked dramatic condemnation from his own church.
Besides attacking homosexuality as “an abomination”, Drollinger had incited the wrath of both critics and his own supporters by writing, in his ministry newsletter, that God was “disgusted” with many California legislators. Who, specifically ? Drollinger named Jews, Catholics, and liberal Christians. He wrote,
“In the past several weeks I have visited with a Jewish legislator, a Catholic legislator and a liberal Protestant legislator – all of whom reject the Jesus of Scripture.”
Portraying Jews as “rejecting Jesus” is especially toxic – it’s a characterization at the core of historic anti-Semitism going back to the Fourth Century and tends to be accompanied by a corollary accusation; not only did Jews reject Jesus, they also killed him.
In response, the elders of Drollinger’s Grace Community Church proclaimed, in an official statement, that “Ralph Drollinger is not biblically qualified for spiritual leadership… he is not biblically qualified for Christian ministry”.
But, like many destined for greatness – or at least notoriety, Drollinger just failed upwards. Now, his ministry is burrowed deep into Washington, D.C. and serves the spiritual needs of U.S. Senators, Congress members, and top members of the Trump Administration who, Drollinger loudly advertises in his ministry promotional literature, are sponsoring his efforts.
One of the many distinctions of Capitol Ministries is its financial sponsorship by the National Christian Foundation – which serves as a defacto funding wing of The Fellowship that hosts the National Prayer Breakfast. NCF, among its many distinctions, is probably the biggest funder of anti-LGBT rights organizations in America. NCF’s 2014 990 tax form shows an $85,000 donation to Capitol Ministries.
Another is the presence on its board of directors of one of the more polarizing Republican politicians in recent years, former Wisconsin Congress U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann – whose 2012 election bid for the presidency encountered an unexpected public relations disaster when undercover Truth Wins Out researcher John Becker exposed ongoing “ex-gay” reparative therapy at a Christian counseling clinic run by Rep. Bachmann’s husband Marcus Bachmann.
In addition, Capitol Ministries’ work is enthusiastically endorsed by history falsificationist David Barton (openly identified as a “liar for Jesus” by one dedicated critic), who has claimed that the U.S. Constitution is based on concepts derived from various Old Testament books such as Leviticus, and that Jesus without a doubt opposed the minimum wage.
To some, the Barton endorsement and Bachmann involvement might suggest that Capitol Ministries is about more than conventional prayer and Bible study.
Indeed, Ralph Drollinger preaches the extreme epistemological claim that scripture trumps science, a position promoted by some of the most radical streams of far-right, politicized Protestant Christianity, notably the theocratic Christian Reconstructionism movement.
In a recent Drollinger ministry article titled Oroville Dam, Global Warming, and The Bible, Drollinger proclaimed,”[T]heories of the radical doomsday climate change folks contradict what God’s Word states”. Drollinger concluded with the triumphant flourish,
“To think that man can alter the earth’s ecosystem — when God remains omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in the current affairs of mankind — is to more than subtly espouse an ultra-hubristic, secular worldview relative to the supremacy and importance of man. It follows that we can all rest assured and wholly rely on God’s aforementioned promises pertaining to His ability and willingness to sustain our world’s ecosystem.
What glorious truths God has given us! They run smack in the face of the secular fad theorists who try and scare us with global warming, or now, suddenly, flooding! Let us continue to place our faith in the promises of God as contained in His Word. Amen!”
So, here’s the theological basis of Global Warming/climate change denialism that dovetails with mercenary fossil fuel industry opposition to recognition of (and action on) the mounting crisis : the Bible says so.
Underneath Drollinger’s claim is the Christian theological doctrine of Presuppositionalism, a fancy sounding concept that’s really quite simple – beyond just matters of faith, Christian beliefs on the very nature of reality and the physical world are to be based on a literal reading of scripture.
So, for example, because various Biblical passages reveal that God causes the Sun to rise and also brings the rain, and has promised never again to flood the Earth as in the time of Noah, human-caused climate change is therefore impossible.
Indeed, according to Drollinger the book of Genesis “is foundational to a biblical worldview; as a Public Servant, not only should you know the passages that follow and see their connection and integration, but more important, know how that knowledge should guide and convict your thinking and actions.”
In other words, belief in some form of Young Earth creationism is a prerequisite to being a “biblical” public servant according to Drollinger.
While Capitol Ministries’ stated purpose is to target politicians and make them “disciples of Jesus”, in this fashion, an examination of other various “biblical” teachings from Drollinger on the Capitol Ministries website reveals an expansive, bigoted range of positions :
Capitol Ministries preaches the gospel of dominionism, citing the scriptural edict that Christians are to “to rule over all of creation and subdue it”.
Environmentalism is a “potentially dangerous” movement and amounts to a false religion standing in the way of progress. Drollinger castigates,
“radical environmentalists, those who in essence idolize and worship the earth; theirs is the demand to limit the progress and expansion of mankind. The earth is the highest good in their way of thinking, not man; and God is to them a myth, harmless at best, but potentially dangerous.”
Along related lines, Drollinger teaches that “The Bible is pro-private property rights” and “The biblically-based political ideology of private property ownership stands in absolute and distinct contradiction to the political ideology of Communism” and that “it is safe to say that God is a Capitalist not a Communist”.
Not surprisingly, in “Entitlement Programs Viewed Through the Lens of Scripture“, Drollinger portrays all government redistributive functions as anti-biblical and anti-God.
Drollinger teaches that “The Koran “instructs its adherents to advance Islam by the sword. This is not in question” and portrays Islam as satanic, bloodthirsty counterfeit religion bent on world domination :
“Students of Islam realize that the Muslim religion desires world dominance. And any nation that stands in the way of their world conquest is considered a threat to their ultimate objective. To these political Islamists, Israel is “the Little Satan” and the United States is “the Great Satan.” The sword has always spread Islam, and those leaders intend to continue their armed conquest. Make no mistake: Allah is not Yahweh, and Mohammed never claimed he was the Messiah, nor that he would rise from the dead. Islam and its Koran are nothing more than a plagiarism of OT truths – and a non-chronological, sloppy one at that – topped off with a falsified diminution of Jesus Christ. Read it for yourself and you will know what I mean.”
By contrast, according to Drollinger there’s a “biblical basis” for America’s commitment for Israel. according to Drollinger.
On the LGBT rights front, Drollinger credulously refers to the long-discredited claims of Paul Cameron, that “The average life of the homosexual American male is 42 years old; the lesbian lives to 44 years old. Those living to an old age are 9% and 20% respectively.” He cites other debunked research which claims that “homosexual proclivities are not genetic” and that same-sex attraction results when children fail to properly bond with their fathers, a long discredited conservative trope :
“it is no surprise that research indicates homosexual proclivities are not genetic; they are formed in adolescence and puberty when a child of either sex fails to properly bond with their father for whatever reason(s). In a quest to fulfill that void of fatherly love, and in lack of his instruction, the child becomes tempted by seemingly alternative, artificial forms of fulfillment, which then catalyze during puberty. It is axiomatic: the weakening of the institutions of both marriage and family in a given culture will simultaneously and proportionately give birth to a rise in homosexuality and lesbianism. Sadly that is occurring here in America.”