The Freedom From Religion Foundation has just acquired records confirming that senior officials in the Trump administration used taxpayer-funded time and resources to organize extremist weekly bible studies, including a large event at the Museum of the Bible.
Although Capitol Ministries fortunately appears to no longer be active in the White House, it has not gone away. The group’s founder and president, Ralph Drollinger, remains active on Capitol Hill and at the state level haranguing lawmakers to legislate according to his homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic version of Christianity.
The stated mission of Capitol Ministries, a Christian nationalist organization, is to “evangelize elected and appointed political leaders and lead them toward maturity in Christ.” Drollinger was the likely inspiration for the citation of Romans 13 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to justify the Trump administration’s egregious family separation policy, literally putting kids in cages after separating them from their parents.
Capitol Ministries held a December 2019 event at the Museum of the Bible, where it said attendees “heard from White House cabinet members, U.S. senators and representatives about the importance of teaching God’s Word to people in political power and how the Washington, D.C., Bible study they regularly attend impacts their lives personally and professionally.” FFRF sought public records related to this event from all the departments involved, and the records, although they took well over a year to arrive, confirm several high-level officials’ involvement and the use of staff time to organize and promote the religious event.
The records further reveal details of the event, including an email describing the event as having a panel of “100 new ministry leaders and their wives.” This casual sexism is par for the course for Drollinger, who has said mothers who work outside the home are sinners: “Women with children at home who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.”
Disgraced former Texas Gov. and ex-Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who resigned his cabinet position in shame after Trump blamed Perry for setting up the infamous Ukraine call that led to the former president’s first impeachment, is now “spearheading CapMin’s nationwide effort to recruit ministry leaders across America to teach the Bible in weekly studies to local government public servants in their neighborhoods,” according to Capitol Ministries. FFRF has had a long history of challenging Perry’s improper use of his public offices to promote fundamentalist Christianity, including suing him for initiating an evangelical prayer rally in 2011.
“Lawmakers should remember that they swore an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which mandates a wall of separation between state and church,” comments FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “To have true freedom of religion, government must be free from religion.”
FFRF is committed to exposing the misuse of public resources to promote religion and to educating the public about the troubling string of government officials pushing a dangerous Christian nationalist agenda.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.