Ralph Drollinger, a minister who leads a weekly Bible study group for President Donald Trump’s cabinet, released a new interpretation of the coronavirus pandemic this week, arguing that the crisis represents an act of God’s judgment.
The coronavirus, Drollinger argues in two blog posts and a rambling Bible study guide published in the past few days, is a form of God’s wrath upon nations, but not one as severe as the floods described in the Old Testament or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“Relative to the coronavirus pandemic crisis, this is not God’s abandonment wrath nor His cataclysmic wrath, rather it is sowing and reaping wrath,” wrote Drollinger. “A biblically astute evaluation of the situation strongly suggests that America and other countries of the world are reaping what China has sown due to their leaders’ recklessness and lack of candor and transparency.”
Neither does he miss a chance to condemn those who worship the “religion of environmentalism” and express a “proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.” These individuals, Drollinger argues in “Is God Judging America Today?”, one of the minister’s posts about coronavirus pandemic, have infiltrated “high positions in our government, our educational system, our media and our entertainment industry” and “are largely responsible for God’s consequential wrath on our nation.”
In the Bible study, Drollinger meanders through scripture, explaining the ways in which God may have caused the coronavirus. In a footnote, he hedges on his previous argument that the virus represents a mild form of God’s wrath, noting that, “We’ll soon see a human cure for the coronavirus.”
Drollinger’s evangelical lessons are carefully catered to conservative ideology, with a focus on interpreting current events through a partisan lens.
Drollinger, reached by phone, referred questions to his foundation’s press line. Capitol Ministries, the nonprofit founded by Drollinger that hosts his Bible study, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Drollinger-led Bible study meets every Wednesday morning with members of Trump’s cabinet, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Health Secretary Alex Azar. Carson and Azar, notably, are members of the coronavirus task force guiding the federal government response to the pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence, a member of the task force and a listed host of Capitol Ministries, is also tied to the Bible study. Emails obtained by Gizmodo show administration officials coordinating with Drollinger’s group to schedule a session of the Bible study, including the possibility of hosting the weekly event in Pence’s West Wing office.
At least 52 GOP lawmakers also participate in a Capitol Hill version of Drollinger’s Bible study, which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sponsors of the event include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the second-ranking GOP lawmaker in the Senate.
The evangelical lessons are carefully catered to conservative ideology, with a focus on interpreting current events through a partisan lens. Drollinger’s study guides have provided biblical justification for the Trump administration’s undocumented immigrant child separation policies and arguments in favor of lower taxes on the wealthy.
Bible study guides from Capitol Ministries distributed to politicians also claim that “Islam and its Koran are nothing more than a plagiarism of OT truths,” a reference to the Old Testament and, in all caps, declare: “NOT EVERY MUSLIM IS A TERRORIST BUT EVERY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST IN RECENT HISTORY HAS BEEN A MUSLIM.”
A former college basketball player, Drollinger has spent much of the last 24 years involved in fusing politics with religion. Danielle Drollinger, the minister’s spouse, once ran a political action committee designed to elect conservative Christians to office in California. Drollinger eventually formed a Christian ministry focused on cultivating political leaders in Sacramento.
For many years, Drollinger operated on the fringes. In 2004, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that many California Republicans resented the presence of Drollinger’s group, which preached that the Bible opposed women working outside the home. “It’s the world’s largest false religion,” said Drollinger, describing his view of Catholicism, in an interview with the paper.
In recent years, Capitol Ministries has since experienced dramatic growth, having been largely embraced by mainstream members of the Republican Party. In 2010, Drollinger launched his Washington, D.C., chapter, which quickly gained a following among right-wing lawmakers such as then-Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. The organization, focused on conservative Christian outreach to political leadership, has expanded to 20 state legislatures and now capitals in Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, and Ecuador, among other international affiliations.
In his book “Rebuilding America: The Biblical Blueprint,” Drollinger laid out his vision to “reach all the capitals of the world for Christ.” “We have a goal of 200 ministries in 200 federal capitals around the world,” Brian Hanson, an official at Capitol Ministries, told the New York Times.
The organization’s latest annual report touts endorsement quotes from a series of prominent GOP lawmakers.
“I do absolutely believe in the advancement of this ministry worldwide,” wrote Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst offered even more effusive praise.
“Getting together with my Senate colleagues for Bible study is a highlight of my week,” wrote the Iowa senator. “It’s a time where we can shut out all the partisan noise and focus on what matters most, our faith. Without the work of Capitol Ministries®, this wouldn’t be possible.”