An evangelical pastor who holds regular Bible studies on Capitol Hill for members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet is suggesting that the crisis America is now experiencing is proof of God’s disapproval of LGBTQ Americans.
In a Bible study he published last weekend, Ralph Drollinger pointed to several signs he believes are evidence of God’s displeasure ― including “a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality” and the “religion of environmentalism.” Ultimately, he says, these groups are “largely responsible” for God’s wrath on America today.
“Whenever an individual or corporate group of individuals violate the inviolate precepts of God’s Word, he, she, they or the institution will suffer the respective consequences,” Drollinger wrote last Saturday. “Most assuredly America is facing this form of God’s judgment.”
Drollinger’s comments were published as cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, began spiking across the country. The number of deaths from the illness have now reached over 1,000 in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.
As the founder of Capitol Ministries, which seeks to evangelize elected officials, Drollinger reaches a highly influential audience of cabinet members, senators and congresspeople.
A spokesperson for Capitol Ministries told HuffPost on Thursday that “Drollinger does not believe the coronavirus is God’s judgment on homosexuals, environmentalists or any other group of people, and has never said that it is.”
The pastor’s Bible study, published March 21, does not explicitly say those typically more left-leaning groups caused God to strike America with the coronavirus. But he does suggest that their existence is a sign of God’s wrath on America today. Capitol Ministries did not respond to HuffPost’s request to clarify what “God’s wrath” could mean besides the coronavirus.
Drollinger wrote that he doesn’t believe God is judging America as a whole — thanks to the presence of conservative Christians in the government — but that certain groups like the LGBTQ community, environmentalists, and atheists “are largely responsible for God’s consequential wrath on our nation.”
In another post from last weekend, Drollinger suggested that the coronavirus pandemic was caused by “recklessness and lack of candor and transparency” from Chinese leaders and that America is reaping what China has sown.
One way to counteract God’s wrath, Drollinger argues, is to elect more evangelical Christians to political office.
Drollinger told the BBC in 2018 that Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attend his weekly Bible studies when they have time.
In 2018, a Capitol Ministries spokesperson told HuffPost that Drollinger’s weekly Bible studies are distributed to members of the president’s cabinet, Senate, House and to President Trump — who, Drollinger has also boasted, gives them rave reviews.
However, White House spokesperson Judd Deere told NBC on Wednesday that Trump doesn’t attend Drollinger’s Bible class, adding that the notion that homosexuality created the pandemic was “disgusting” and “certainly not something the President believes.”
“President Trump has no higher priority than the health and safety of all Americans, and ensuring we emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before,” Deere told NBC.
The White House did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
A spokesperson for Pence told The New York Times in December that the vice president doesn’t attend the studies but “appreciates Mr. Drollinger’s work.”
Pence is listed on Capitol Ministries’ website as one of its supporters, alongside Pompeo, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and several other cabinet members. Drollinger has dozens of supporters in the House and the Senate and has also set up Bible study groups in 32 state capitals.
Drollinger’s belief that evangelicals elected to political office will free America from God’s wrath is a “mainstream” view within conservative Christian and evangelical circles, Andrew Whitehead, a sociologist at Clemson University who studies Christian nationalism, told HuffPost.
“With access to the halls of power ... they will turn the U.S. back on track to what God has always wanted,” Whitehead said. “This is Christian nationalism in a nutshell — privileging Christianity in the public sphere and seeing it fused with what it means to be an American.”
Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Capitol Ministries’ influence over and access to legislative bodies threatens Americans’ religious freedom. Drollinger is free to believe this theology of hate, she said, but the White House and state capitals must not give it a platform.
“The White House should condemn Capitol Ministries and distance itself from these views, but we know that’s unlikely,” she said. “President Trump and his administration have repeatedly pandered to Christian nationalists, much to detriment of the national unity we desperately need at this time.”
The LGBTQ advocacy organization Lambda Legal is also calling on Trump to immediately “repudiate Drollinger’s anti-LGBTQ, anti-science screed” and then “stop both the overt, systematic rollbacks of LGBTQ Americans’ legal protections, and the less overt, deadly insidious ideological attacks on our humanity.”
Jennifer Pizer, the group’s law and policy director, told HuffPost: “Such opportunistic scapegoating exacerbates social stigma, pain and alienation within families, and hate crimes. It’s facile, cruel, and contemptible.”
UPDATE: March 31 — Through a representative, Ralph Drollinger cited abuses of power by individuals like Harvey Weinstein and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus as examples of “God’s consequential wrath” in response to questions about what he was referring to when he said, “Most assuredly America is facing this form of God’s judgment.”