What Bible Are They Studying?

In the wake of Trump’s response to the Charlottesville riots–and especially as we look to see and judge the reactions of White House staff and Congressional Republicans–a news item published a couple of weeks ago in The Hill takes on a particularly ironic flavor.

Many of President Trump’s Cabinet members gather at a weekly session to study the Bible, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) reported Monday.

Ralph Drollinger, the founder of Capitol Ministries, says he leads a weekly Bible study with Cabinet members such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

“It’s the best Bible study that I’ve ever taught in my life. They are so teachable. They’re so noble. They’re so learned,” Drollinger told CBN.

Vice President Pence, who is a sponsor of the faith sessions, reportedly joins the group when his schedule allows.

The snark just writes itself–especially when you consider that although Trump’s embrace of the “good people” carrying torches and chanting anti-black and anti-Jewish slogans prompted CEO’s to resign en masse from his two business advisory councils– it has yet to prompt even one departure from his Evangelical Advisory Board.

I am not a Christian (and I don’t play one on TV), so I don’t pretend to be conversant with the varying theologies that distinguish Christian denominations. But I have deeply religious Christian friends, and they assure me that Christ did not preach a doctrine of racial and religious hatred.

Evidently, the Evangelical Advisory Board and the leader of the cabinet’s Bible Study are more tolerant of intolerance than my Christian friends.

According to media reports, Pastor Ralph Drollinger, the 7-foot-1 former UCLA basketball star who leads these sessions, has his own take on a number of biblical admonitions. He once lectured a group of Sacramento lawmakers that female politicians with young children have no business serving in the Legislature. He called those who do so sinners. (Interestingly, he subsequently defended fathers whose careers take them out of the home for extended periods, although he did say they should be “extra sensitive” to such absences–whatever the hell that means.)

This is a “discipleship” that supports snatching health insurance from millions of Americans; that believes God wants them to deprive poor women access to the lifesaving pap smears and breast exams provided by Planned Parenthood; that wants to give wealthy taxpayers “relief” while viciously slashing already inadequate safety-net programs for the poor. It’s a “discipleship” that ignores biblical admonitions about stewardship of the environment. A “discipleship” that apparently has no problem supporting a President who equates good people and Nazis. I could go on. And on.

Isn’t there something in the bible about knowing people “by their works”?

Let me just modify that famous Gandhi quote: I like my friends’ Christ. I do not like these self-proclaimed “Christians.” They are so unlike my friends’ Christ.


  1. “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
    But I’m afraid the time has come, for me, that it should be required, in some form, as a (dis)qualification at the ballot box. My congenital Quaker sensibilities are deeply offended by those who are ravenous for war and applaud the suffering and death of children and other poor. Shame. They are no kind of Christian, regardless of the badge they try to pin on themselves.

  2. My New Testament commands me to do unto others as I’d want them to do unto me. On the issues you cited and more, I don’t see much ability or willingness in this administration to follow that rule. The most visible exception is in the military personnel surrounding the president. They have provided the bright spot on an otherwise dark horizon. Who would have thought we’d need the military to protect us from the civilian commander-in-chief?

  3. Jesus was a Jew. He hung out at the beach with poor folks. His best friends were Mary, Martha and Lazarus. I imagine if he came today he’d he’d drive a beat up truck, wear overalls, and live in a poor neighborhood. He never meant to start a religion.

  4. I have suggested before that those in this administration are spouting dogma from Flip Wilson’s Church of What’s Happnin’. Since last weekend, I have changed my mind; Flip Wilson would have nothing to do with the GOP Church of What’s Happnin’ but What’s Happnin’ is in keeping with the always racist and bigoted American undercurrent which is sweeping staunch Republican Congress and voters along in it’s swift current.

    Only Pence and Congress have the Constitutional power to stop it and they sit idle. I do not believe the current Congress will support Pence’s pseudo “christian” agenda as easily or quickly as this corn-belt state of Indiana did. No matter which Bible they use as a study guide. Is this why Pence hesitates and stays securely in his position as Trump’s gofer? Cannot Congress, without Pence, set in action the process to rid this country of Trump? If they are looking for a Biblical basis for action, there is always, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to the Lord that which is the Lord’s.”

  5. Isn’t it amazing that Trump’s inner core support comes from Nazi, Klansmen, and Evangelicals? Now there is a “trinity of evil” if ever there was!

  6. My guess is they are studying only the book of Revelation. They hope to see Armageddon in their lifetime, and they look forward to armed battles in the street. Rev. 6:4

  7. I wonder how these Bible study folks deal with the fact that the Biblical Jesus is a Jew, given the far-Right Evangelicals’ recent silence on the anti Semitic comments of their followers. They clearly do not spend time in Bible study reading the New Testament–in which the reported words of Jesus clearly state positions which are the opposite of those advocated by them. And how do they continue to support a President who regularly violates all the tenets of religion which they claim to advocate? I don’t understand the dichotomy that exists in what they say they believe and their behavior.

  8. hyp’o-crite, one who pretends,to have virtue…politicians should leave religion out of politics.its a mine field creating falsehoods and cheap rehtoric. saying they believe in god, or, the moral words of the bible,to convey a self imposed idiology as why they perform as they do, and thats o.k. with you to. ( in their self imposed self)its self serving crap. in 62 years ive heard enough garbage from so called christians as why they do as they do..i find a common ground with the politics being the same hypocrites who blasts other religeions in other places around the world,and compare it with theirs. we see how religieon kills, systematically passes out stigma and judgement,without regard as long as it meets their self imposed agenda. when a turd like trump walks into any chutch that reconize him, then we see, that religion is just as fake as his presidentcey. as for devos,,, education minister? i dont want to see any kids educated under a sharman..hypocrite…

  9. The conservatives pick and choose which parts of the Bible they like the same way they pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they like. Jesus said,”Whatever you do to these, the least of your brethren, you do also to me.”

  10. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, an Asian American woman, stood right next to DT during his deranged diatribe. She did not, in any visible way, distance herself, show any sign of disagreement or disapproval. What kind of people are his Cabinet members, his V.P. that shroud themselves in sanctimony while actively working with a man who is so evil?

    As a side note, despite a statement on his web site, the new Archbishop of Indianapolis, as well as the rest of the Catholic hierarchy in this country, have been completely absent from any public protest at this systemic manifestation of unChristian words and actions. There were no Catholic priests or religious represented in the clergy who turned out in Charlottesville that I could see in the news photos. As the largest religious organization in the U.S., they have been silent and invisible when they should be the most vocal and visible of all. Shame on them all. (Yes, I am Catholic.)

  11. JD; they are keeping themselves in the shadows, having seen many of us demanding all churches begin paying taxes. They also want to continue receiving those voucher tax dollars from public education budgets. It has nothing to do with the Catholic religion, or any other denomination, it is only about MONEY!

    No worry about anyone running those “money-changers” out of churches, temples or mosques; the “money-changers” today are in the president’s cabinet and our Congress.

  12. I see nothing new. RELIGION WAS INVENTED as a kind of Swiss knife, an all-purpose tool to manipulate people. And those it cannot manipulate? It kills; the tool comes with at least one long blade.

  13. Reading today’s blog brings up personal memories from 1979 or 1980 when I was fresh from graduate school and living in Virginia Beach, VA with my late husband and our toddler son. During that time, Virginia Beach appeared to be an incubator for the religious right, as the New Right was termed at the particular time.

    Pat Robertson had just settled in town and kicked off his ‘700 Club’ television show of ‘miracles’ on his very own television network, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Jerry Falwell was waving his Bible, no doubt the King James Version, across the state in Lynchburg, VA, where he was preaching what I called ‘hard shell Baptist fundamentalism’ where sin is lurking around every corner, where cigar smokers and high-toned women are preying on innocent young men.

    After a neighbor invited us to a dinner meeting where Cal Thomas, a man we’d never heard of, spoke to a small group did I realize something was not right (no pun intended). Cal Thomas was a scary man, scared me, and scared my late husband. At age 30, I immersed myself into reading about Pat Roberston and Jerry Falwell and their particular types that soon became known as the Moral Majority.

    One specific book I purchased was ‘The Fear Brokers’, Sen. Thomas J McIntyre, 1979, that continues to be on my bookshelf wherever I’ve lived since 1980. McIntyre covered the subject of the New Right/the Moral Majority in no uncertain terms – groups who played on the fears of regular people. It remains the same.

  14. During the Senate debates on the ACA repeal and replace, I sent the following to Indiana Senator Young, who campaigned, in part, of his Christian faith.

    As a Christian, you must oppose these bills as being inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. Consider Matthew 25:35-40.
    35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.)

    Seems pretty clear to me.

  15. Larry, I disagree a bit. I believe that religion was invented/evolved to answer the unanswerable questions. Only later did mankind see how to use it to manipulate people. Meanwhile, science marched on, and the intelligent among us, having had their questions answered, moved on too. Those wanting only simple answers to the harsh realities of life make themselves feel good by living in a world of magical thinking.

  16. I love this line: ” I am not a Christian (and I don’t play one on TV).” Therein lies part of the problem. These charlatans (who tout the prosperity gospel, who make millions from their followers, who preach that if you don’t believe their Bible and their president that you are going to hell) only pretend to follow the teachings of Jesus. They cherry-pick verses from the Bible, and they claim to absolutely know the will of God. At the same time, they slam others for “interpreting” the Bible in any way contrary to theirs. I am tired of their hypocrisy, and I am tired of the people who blindly follow them and DT. (Robertson, Falwell, Graham, White, Pierce,etc.)

  17. The members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/18/donald-trump-evangelicals-charlottesville

    Jerry Falwell Jr tweeted on Wednesday: “Finally, a leader in the White House. Jobs returning, North Korea backing down, bold truthful statement about Charlottesville tragedy. So proud of Donald Trump.”

    The Board is almost exclusively white men. I wonder if there is a Buddhist Advisory Board, or a Catholic Advisory Board, a Moslem Advisory Board, a Jewish Advisory Board, an Agnostic Advisory Board or an Atheist Board???

  18. So, are there religious study groups for other religious adherents among our government officials? Can run-of-the-mill government workers attend theses gatherings or only the high profile public “servants”? Do they meet in government buildings during work hours so that tax dollars are involved is supporting these meetings? Does the pastor or his reps get paid for providing these classes? You see where this goes?

  19. I think that you people here are way too cruel. Think of the pitiful lives of those who you disparage. They used to be privileged. They used to have people under them to look up at them. They used to have the most power force in the universe at their beck and call.

    Then the future came and took it all away. Left them in its wake no better than anybody. Average at best. Going to church on Sunday no longer conveyed privilege. So sad. No wonder they hate progress.

    Can you blame them for trying to reverse time? For making every effort to put the last 50 years of toothpaste back in the tube? No, you can’t.

    Pity them. Encourage them and gently turn them away from their last longing view of the past to the direction time is going, forward. Explain in soft tones and simple words that the world is too complex for simplistic black and white extremist non thinking now. That the most powerful force in the universe is time and their old hero has said very clearly that taking care of earth and life and us is up to us. He has turned over the keys to we who need it done so we can do it.

    Invite them to join us in the work of continuous improvement even though it be hard. We can do it but first we must try.

  20. And then there’s Joel Osteen. Have you seen his mansion????? And I believe I heard they’re going in to the skin care business!!!! I don’t have the gift of expression that all of you have. So here it goes: DUMP TRUMP & FENCE PENCE. And I am one of the Chosen People so it’s ok…..

  21. Tom Paine is my hero: no revelation, no magic, no mystery. Practice that and religion loses its power. Jefferson selected for his spiritual nourishment only those verses he understood to be spoken by the itinerant Jewish teacher, not the accretions of his followers.

  22. P.S. We are spiraling in to a black hole now. I think our last chance has expired. Let’s be realistic- do you REALLY think we can reason with the unreasonable??? It would have to be something so epic, like a huge meteor collision or aliens landing on Earth to MAYBE snap us out of our ignorant, self-righteous, money hungry, power hungry, prejudice ways. I’m done. Call me crazy but I’ve had enough…..

  23. Thanks very much for this fine post Sheila and thanks very much also to Marge Wood for summing up the Jesus that I have thankfully, just for me, come to know. Obviously many Christians have either forgotten about this or never have learned it given what they hear from those behind pulpits that they listen to on a regular basis. This is to me the most perplexing and tragic aspect of Christianity in this country today. Jesus, just as He who sent him into this world to save us , is all about love and compassion not judgement. This is what Pastors should be preaching, not division or political posturing with this us versus them mentality. I’m afraid that if Jesus drove up in that beat up truck that Marge described instead of a Lexus no one that ‘s prideful and rigid in their version of Christianity would recognize him and what a shame that would really be.

  24. Jesus in the red letter versions of the New Testament called upon us to help the poor dozens of times and not once did he call upon us to help the rich. He got it right; the rich do not need help from the rest of us – they can buy their help.
    It seems to me that the citizen-state relationship in a democracy should be one of mutual sacrifice and advantage; that we should amplify on Kennedy’s admonition (written by Ted Sorensen, a Unitarian) that we “ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country” to asking what our country is going to do for us in return for our fidelity to the country and its intitutions and conformity to our social mores and folkways as they develop. Thus why should we be good citizens if there is nothing in it for us? We owe fidelity to our country, to be sure, but in my view, the country has a mutual obligation to its citizens beyond providing that the rest of us are defined as ATM machines for the rich and corporate class to plunder. We know from bitter and continuing experience what “the country” does for the superrich, so the question is what is the country going to do, if anything, for the rest of us? I think Jesus would approve even if medieval monks aka Pence & Co. disagree.

  25. “What Bible Are They Studying?”

    Maybe a better question would be, what are they praying for? Could the religious base now in control possibly not be sitting idly by doing nothing; could they be praying for the Lord to resolve these problems they created?” Just askin’

    Here’s another thought or two; while watching MSNBC, with a few side trips to anything that is NOT MSNBC, however briefly…my mind often turns to music. Remember that briefly favorite party game, the Limbo? Remember the popular song which accompanied it, “How Low Can We Go?”

    More appropriate music might be that old favorite from WWI, “Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition…And We’ll All Be Free!”

  26. @Gerald, the best thing of all about Jesus, the historical Jesus, is that he never wrote one word, not one word as far as any religious or Biblical scholars have ever located, have ever determined. Such a smart man, a wise soul who spoke to people in parables but who never put his thoughts in writing. Kinda reminds me of working in the Indianapolis Public Schools where no administrator ever put anything into writing…plenty of red letter quotes, but nothing in writing.

  27. JoAnn – I understand that Bannon is either out or will be moved laterally to some other position. I want him out of the White House entirely because I think if Trump gives him some other title it will just be to pacify the press and people like us while continuing to allow Bannon to do his thing sub rosa. I want him out. Period. He can go south, put on his hood and distribute nooses around the neighborhood in his spare time.

  28. All here that know me know what I am going to say – right?


    End the debt, the deficit, end corporate welfare, end lobbyist, end Citizen’s United, end it all. So many good comments today, I won’t bother to identify them. And yes, Bannon is out. #45 is next. That’s why Pence rushed back to save the country. bawwhaaa

  29. Gerald, why would one relegate Bannon to the South where he could put on his hood? Are you cognizant that Indiana has more documented Hate Groups than its southern neighbor, Kentucky? Are you aware that California has the largest number of active Hate Groups in the US? How ’bout we send Bannon to California where his choice of preferred Hate Groups is far wider? Deal?

  30. Gerald; we are smart enough to know he is out but not done giving strategy to Trump. But, no more official government power or position. He can go back to his White Nationalist work and give them all of the information he has illegally gathered while in the White House, privy to all confidential info. Do you wonder if he has those nuclear codes? I do. This has all been fun and games for Trump; and sharing his secrets with his BFF is part of it.

  31. Oh god, let’s just give up this mythical “Biblical viewpoint” stuff. The Bible says and justifies any batshit crazy thing you want it to say, from right-wing fascist ideology, to left-wing, new-agey airy-fairy stuff. There is no objective, fact-based biblical viewpoint on ANYTHING, and people who call themselves Christians disagree on just about every single thing they believe

  32. Maybe you should all READ the Bible if you WANT to know what’s in it. Or, is it just much easier to “cherry pick” a few verses of your own to make your liberal point?

  33. BSH – I agree with your note that Bannon should not be sent to the South but to any venue where fascists reside, and that includes every state in the union. You make a good point. California with its enormous population is, of course, likely to be the home of many hate groups. Bannon is gone but his influence lingers. Firing him is a start but we must agitate for firing of his henchmen such as Sessions and Miller and others, who are anathema to the democratic institutions we have fought and died for. I am reminded of Marv’s constant commentary to the effect that we are in the grips of fascists and that this must be undone. I agree, and I want it done now. Finally, I have often suggested that Trump will either resign or be impeached, and perhaps before snowfall. I here reassert that prediction. I think he may well resign soon as he does not do well with intense pressure, and I hope my guess is right. Let’s keep up the pressure so that Pastor Pence can assume the throne.

  34. Lots of hate in America. There is so much hate as well within this very forum. I’ve mentioned it before how this website resonates with white-privilege. Pete’s hatred of those of the lower caste is obvious from his many word-salad musings. It’s obvious he considers anyone bearing the brunt of neoliberalism a loser. The professor’s hatred of the Christian religion comes roaring as well. I don’t hate the religious, but do find them to be nothing more than useful idiots for the more enterprising among the populace. Yes,too many use religion as a ruse to accomplish bad things,just as the New Democrats use virtue signaling to continue their losing narrative–which I believe serves the PTB.

    The right-wingers and the privileged “liberals” within this site have one thing in common,both are of Caucasian ethnicity. The country will be much better off when white folks comprise much less than 50%–or even as low as 35%– of the population. America would be a much better country if religion wasn’t as revered as it is today. If we were honest with ourselves,the truth is religion is for the delusional. Religion is for the stupid.

    One more thing,I have noticed that affluent liberals are especially reluctant to admit that fascists might have good jobs with degrees from fancy schools and work and live around them. It is easier to believe that all fascists are ignorant hillbillies or ugly losers who can’t get laid. They don’t want to admit that the nearest fascist might be the handsome guy in their marketing department or the pretty girl next door.

    Many liberals seem to think that the world is like a Disney movie where the bad guys are easy to spot because they always wear black and have pointy-beards and shifty eyes. I suspect that this at least partially explains why so many Democrats fell in love with characters like Obama and Macron despite their policies being garbage.

  35. An example of hypocrisy…

    There was a recent homage to former mayor Bill Hudnut written on this very forum. That’s great he was willing to hire a woman as the city-attorney…..But,his legacy will be as the mayor who created the milieu that decimated IPS. He knew monies would be diverted from IPS to fund such priorities as football teams and stadiums in the future. For a group of readers that often type about education being important….Well I guess it is as long as you’re not among “those people” living within the confines of IPS. Hudnut’s image must be protected at all costs!

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