Update | The first Bible study group organized for the U.S. Cabinet in at least 100 years is led by a pastor who believes homosexuality is “illegitimate,” who does not believe women should preach, and who has described Catholicism as a “False” religion.
Ten Cabinet members, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, sponsor the study group, which holds meetings from one hour to 90 minutes every Wednesday , according to BBC News. It takes place in a location in Washington, DC that is kept secret for security reasons.
Its leader is Ralph Drollinger, pastor and president of Capitol Ministries: an organization that aims to âevangelize the elect and lead them to maturity in Christâ.
The 63-year-old former pro-basketball player from California founded Capitol Ministries with his wife in 1996, to provide prayer groups, Bible study meetings and private ministry to politicians. It now operates in 43 state capitals and more than 20 locations outside the United States
The Frankish pastor has sparked controversy for his views on women, same-sex relationships and Catholicism.
Arguing that women and men have âdifferent roles,â he said in the BBC News interview: âThere is a ban on female leadership in marriage and female leadership in the church. And it is clear in the Scripturesâ¦ it does not mean, in an egalitarian sense, that a woman is less important. “
And earlier this year in a Bible to study session posted on the Capitol Ministries website, he said, “Homosexuality and homosexual ceremonies are illegitimate in the sight of God. His word is repetitive, insightful. [clearly expressed], and stayed on topic. “
These comments come after he wrote in a Bible study sent to the United States Capitol in 2013: “Not only are homosexuality and same-sex marriage nullified by God in his Word, but biology also castigates homosexuality and same-sex marriage: the end result is stopping the species since homosexuals cannot procreate. Of course, one cannot be a homosexual and an evolutionist at the same time.
In 2004, Drollinger was criticized for to announce Catholicism “is one of the major false religions in the world”.
As a result, progressive activists have opposed Drollinger’s regular meetings with high-ranking American politicians and fear the influence he might have on their political outlook.
When asked if he would tell his students how to vote, Drollinger told BBC News he would “put the plan on the engineer’s seat on the train” which will show “the right tracks to the station “.
âBut I’m not going to tell you which leads to take. But you must be stupid enough not to follow the plan because it is there,â he said.
In a declaration, the nonprofit LGBT advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign called Drollinger an “extremist.”
âPeople see their faith as a source of direction and inspiration, and LGBTQ people, our family and friends are no different,â the group said. “Drollinger’s influence and involvement in the current administration not only widens a wedge between religious communities and the LGBTQ community, but it sets back the time for progress with the spread of even more confrontational rhetoric in communities. highest ranks of government.
Jessica Stern, executive director of the nonprofit LGBT advocacy organization OutRight Action International, said News week: âMake no mistake, this is not just a study group. This organization targeted representatives of the US government, so it by definition sought to blur the line between church and state.
“Their anti-women and anti-LGBTIQ views are important because the highest levels of the US government are listening to them. Members of the president’s office must immediately withdraw their sponsorship from this organization.”
Representatives from the North America region of the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) said News week: “We are concerned that the Trump administration is willing to accept advice from individuals hostile to the LGBTQ community.
âThere are many religious leaders to whom the administration can receive advice that is inclusive and does not discriminate against any community. Many people who identify as LGBTQ are spiritual and religious people, and the fact that the President is surrounded by people seeking religious advice from an exclusionary and hateful person is problematic. The president should demand that his cabinet open up his religious studies to more inclusive groups and individuals.
The White House and Capitol Hill ministries did not respond to a request for comment.
This article was updated with a comment from ILGA.