QUEER VOICES
04/12/2018 09:18 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2018

Anti-Queer Pastor Claims Trump Really Likes His Conservative Bible Studies

Ralph Drollinger said Trump “writes me back notes on my bible studies.”

For more than a year, evangelical pastor Ralph Drollinger has been holding regular Bible studies on Capitol Hill for members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. 

The pastor, who holds traditional views on women and outright condemns same-sex relationships, recently claimed that his Bible studies are also getting rave reviews from the president himself.

In an interview with the BBC, Drollinger said that, although the president doesn’t participate in his Bible study group, Trump does receive weekly copies of the pastor’s teachings.

Drollinger told the BBC that Trump “writes me back notes on my bible studies.”

“He’s got this leaky Sharpie felt-tip pen that he writes all capital letters with,” Drollinger said in the interview published Sunday. ”‘Way to go Ralph, really like this study, keep it up.’ Stuff like that.”

The White House did not respond to HuffPost’s request for confirmation that Trump reads Drollinger’s teachings.

Drollinger is the founder of Capitol Ministries, a group that seeks to evangelize elected officials. The group has started Bible studies in 43 state capitols, according to the BBC, and also holds meetings for members of the Senate and House.

The Cabinet Bible study group has several prominent members who go whenever they are able, according to the BBC, including Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A spokesperson for Capitol Ministries told HuffPost that Drollinger’s role as a Bible study teacher is to “help individual professing Christian legislators grow in their faith and knowledge of God’s Word and precepts, and to lead men who do not know Him to Christ.” The spokesperson emphasized that Drollinger was not appointed by anyone to teach these Bible studies ― rather, he established them.

During the meetings, Drollinger examines one verse of Scripture at a time, which means one book of the Bible could take more than a year to complete. The pastor has recently completed teaching his D.C. Bible study groups about the Sermon on the Mount, a set of moral teachings by Jesus that many Christians consider central to the faith. 

President Donald Trump with members of his Cabinet at the White House on March 8.
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
President Donald Trump with members of his Cabinet at the White House on March 8.

In addition to these weekly Bible studies, Drollinger also posts supplemental topical studies on his website. These notes are distributed every week to members of the Cabinet, Senate and House, and to Trump, the spokesperson said. The supplemental topics are occasionally brought up during the in-person Bible studies.

In the BBC interview, Drollinger compared himself to a waiter who is tasked with serving God’s moral teachings to people.

“If God is the chef, then I’m just the servant, and I hope the guys like the meal,” he said. “But on the way out of the kitchen, I’m not going to alter what’s on the plate. So my job is just to be a servant.”

If people don’t like the message, he said, “you have to go talk to the chef [God]. Unless I’ve altered what’s on the plate ― which, hopefully in my discipline, I don’t.”

But although the pastor claims the lessons he’s dishing out come straight from God, there’s considerable debate within American Christianity about some of his conservative teachings.

American Christian denominations have varying opinions on whether women should be ordained as priests and if women should submit to men within a marriage. But Drollinger subscribes to a deeply conservative view of gender roles. While he believes women can be leaders in business and in politics, he doesn’t think women should be on equal footing with their husbands within a marriage or with men in the church. 

“Those [prohibitions] are clear in scripture… it doesn’t mean, in an egalitarian sense, that a woman is of lesser importance. It’s just that they have different roles,” Drollinger told the BBC.

Drollinger also believes that homosexuality and same-sex marriages are “illegitimate in God’s eyes.” He laid out his case against marriage equality in an article on his website in January, writing, “Legalizing same-sex ceremonies in any state is a very, very serious matter in the eyes of God, and ... such ‘progressive thinking’ eventually evokes His wrath.”

Drollinger’s opinions about homosexuality and women’s roles may not diverge too far from views that the evangelical politicians closest to Trump already hold. Pence, who calls himself an evangelical Catholic, has said in the past that same-sex marriage is contrary to God’s will, claiming in 2006 that it would lead to the “deterioration of the family” and ultimately “societal collapse.” Sessions has made similar statements declaring that same-sex marriage erodes American culture and values.

And as a whole, most white evangelical Protestants still oppose same-sex marriage (59 percent), according to Pew Research Center data from 2017. 

However, the share of white evangelicals who support same-sex marriage has grown in recent years ― from 27 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2017. This growth in support is driven in large part by younger white evangelicals.

Several mainline Protestant denominations, and even some evangelical pastors, have rejected theology that excludes queer people.

Then-candidate Donald Trump holds a Bible while speaking at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, i
Brian Frank / Reuters
Then-candidate Donald Trump holds a Bible while speaking at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 2015.

On his website, Drollinger opines that the work of “scripture-twisting clerics” who preach a more inclusive gospel is even more dangerous to the country than the “bullying of the LGBT lobby.”

“It is not the place of the state nor its populace to redefine what God has created. Such is arrogance of the highest order,” Drollinger wrote. “Man should not define God’s ways; God’s ways should define man’s.”

The pastor says he doesn’t tell members of his Bible studies how to vote. But he hopes reinforcing a conservative interpretation of Scripture will help them make the right decisions.

“I will put the blueprint on the engineer’s seat on the train,” he told the BBC. “And it will show you the right tracks to the station. But I’m not going to tell you what tracks to take. But you’ve got to be pretty stupid not to follow the blueprint, because it’s there.”

Drollinger said he doesn’t think Trump is “working off my blueprint.” 

“But he’s coming from the same place I am, in terms of Biblical understating of the issues.”

HuffPost

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