Top of­fi­cials reg­u­lars at White House Bi­ble classes

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RELIGION - VA­LERIE STRAUSS

Weekly Bi­ble study classes are be­ing held at the White House, and some Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials — in­clud­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions and Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos — join them when they are in town, ac­cord­ing to a story on the Chris­tian Broad­cast­ing Net­work.

The classes are led by Ralph Drollinger, founder of Wash­ing­ton-based Capi­tol Min­istries, which has the fol­low­ing as its mis­sion, ac­cord­ing to its web­site:

“The BHAG (Big, Hairy, Au­da­cious Goal) of Capi­tol Min­istries is to de­liver the Gospel to ev­ery pub­lic ser­vant, in ev­ery capi­tol ev­ery year! Since our found­ing in 1996 our vi­sion has not changed: to evan­ge­lize elected of­fi­cials and lead them to­ward ma­tu­rity in Christ. We stay away from pol­i­tics and con­cen­trate on the hearts of lead­ers. Our above pur­pose state­ment re­flects this.”

Drollinger also leads twice-weekly Bi­ble study classes on Capi­tol Hill for mem­bers of the House and Se­nate, ac­cord­ing to the min­istries’ web­site:

“Capi­tol Min­istries, which has planted Bi­ble stud­ies in 40 state Capi­tols and 24 for­eign na­tions, has a mis­sion to take the Gospel of Je­sus Christ to po­lit­i­cal lead­ers around the world.”

The net­work re­ported that DeVos, Ses­sions, CIA Direc­tor Mike Pom­peo, En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick Perry and Health and Hu­man

Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Tom Price have been among the par­tic­i­pants, and that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has been in­vited and re­ceives a copy of each week’s Bi­ble les­son. It quoted Drollinger as say­ing: “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.”

There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse to queries about this from the White House, the vice pres­i­dent’s of­fice or the de­part­ments of ed­u­ca­tion, jus­tice or health and hu­man ser­vices. A CIA spokesman said he could not com­ment. Drollinger did not im­me­di­ately re­turn phone calls. The web­site of his min­istries says this on its me­dia

con­tact page:

“Pri­vacy No­tice: Please note that it is the strict pol­icy of Capi­tol Min­istries not to com­ment on any Pub­lic Ser­vant who is in­volved with our or­ga­ni­za­tion. We pro­tect

the pri­vacy of all who at­tend our Bi­ble stud­ies.”

Drollinger was quoted as say­ing this about Ses­sions: “He’ll go out the same day I teach him some­thing and I’ll see him do it on cam­era and I just think, ‘Wow, th­ese guys are faith­ful, avail­able and teach­able,’ and they’re at Bi­ble study ev­ery week they’re in town.”

This is not the first time Bi­ble study classes have been held in the White House. In the ad­min­is­tra­tion of for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, some White House staff mem­bers held weekly prayer and Bi­ble study ses­sions, and dur­ing that ad­min­is­tra­tion, John Ashcroft held daily Bi­ble stud­ies at the Jus­tice Depart­ment when he was at­tor­ney gen­eral.

There are no rules against study­ing the Bi­ble in a fed­eral build­ing, though

the U.S. gov­ern­ment is­sued rules in 1997, ti­tled “Guide­lines on Re­li­gious Ex­er­cise and Re­li­gious Ex­pres­sion in the Fed­eral Work­place,” that stress the im­por­tance of su­per­vi­sors be­ing care­ful not to press em­ploy­ees into par­tic­i­pat­ing in any way.

“Be­cause su­per­vi­sors have the power to hire, fire or pro­mote, em­ploy­ees may rea­son­ably per­ceive their su­per­vi­sors’ re­li­gious ex­pres­sion as co­er­cive, even if it was not in­tended as such,” the guide­lines say. “There­fore,

su­per­vi­sors should be care­ful to en­sure that their state­ments and ac­tions are such that em­ploy­ees do not per­ceive any co­er­cion … and should, where nec­es­sary, take ap­pro­pri­ate steps to dis­pel such mis­per­cep­tions.”

Trump has had strong sup­port from the coun­try’s evan­gel­i­cal com­mu­nity. A few weeks ago, a photo was made pub­lic show­ing some evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers lay­ing hands on Trump in the Oval Of­fice as he bowed in prayer.

The As­so­ci­ated Press/JOHN LOCHER

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions speaks to fed­eral, state and lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in July about ef­forts to com­bat vi­o­lent crime in Las Ve­gas. Ses­sions and other top Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials — when in town — at­tend weekly Bi­ble study classes at the White House.

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