Thune, Rounds Support Bad Dominionist Theology in Capitol Bible Study

Right Wing Watch reports a strange manifestation of Christian dominionism under the least Christian President of the past century:

Ralph Drollinger, the minister who leads regular prayer and Bible study meetings with members of President Trump’s cabinet and members of Congress, says in his written Bible study guide for this month, “Do not be deceived by syncretistic, ‘prayer breakfasts:’ God only hears the prayers of leaders and citizens who are upright, who live righteously through faith in Jesus Christ” [Peter Montgomery, “Leader of Trump Cabinet Bible Study: God Only Hears Prayers of ‘Righteous’ Christians,” Right Wing Watch, 2017.07.11].

Drollinger’s Capitol Ministries® Members Bible Study lists Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds among its sponsors. Thune and Rounds apparently support Drollinger’s notion that only his flavor of Christians can effectively lead the our nation:

How misinformed, simplistic, and overlooking is the wisdom of our nation’s leaders wherein the formation of righteous individuals through aggressive evangelism is never even mentioned let alone emphasized! We need Franklin Graham to hold a crusade in the Capitol! What could be more important to the righteousness of our nation! Such ignorance in our priorities bespeaks of the famine of biblical literacy in our Capitol! Make no mistake here: it is righteousness that exalts a nation! Therefore the priority of evangelism is the key to a great nation more so than anything else! You need to get this through your head my friends: Evangelism is the germination of righteousness! We need today to convert Public Servants who are lost without Christ! [Ralph Drollinger, “Members Bible Study,” Capitol Ministries®, 2017.07.10]

Drollinger has expressed a stream of bigoted and absurd beliefs unacceptable for policy or pulpit:

A former college basketball star turned evangelical Christian whose own church disavowed him over his bigotry and radical theology, Drollinger has variously proclaimed that Catholicism is “the world’s largest false religion,” that female legislators who continue working after having children are sinners, and that homosexuality is an “abomination.” He has also written that social welfare programs are un-Christian. “It is safe to say that God is a Capitalist,” Drollinger once wrote, “not a Communist.” In a January radio interview, Drollinger praised then-senator Jeff Sessions, who “hungers and thirsts for the Scripture,” for his performance during his confirmation hearing, when he provided a Biblical justification for his draconian views on immigration. “I’ve had the distinct honor of teaching him on this subject, and many others,” Drollinger said. “There’s nothing more exciting, when you’re a Bible teacher, to see one of the guys you’re working with—to see him or her articulate something you’ve taught them when they’re under the gun” [Brendan O’Connor, “The Trump Cabinet Has Its Own Weekly Far-Right Bible Study Group,” Fusion, 2017.04.20].

Drollinger believes that “America’s entitlement policies stem from bad theology.” Yet I would suggest his own theology

Scripture is clear; those who are at enmity with Him — who passively or actively reject the Son of God — their prayers are worthless and go unheard. And the State suffers for want of His blessing. The righteous leader is a man of potent prayer [Drollinger, 2017.07.10].

Jesus weeps.
Jesus weeps.

The potency of prayer appears not directly proportional to the righteousness of the supplicant. The most righteous man ever to walk the Earth prayed that a cup pass him by and saw that prayer go unanswered.

But if prayer is potent, what does the potency do? My favorite theologian regularly reminds me that prayer isn’t about winning blessing: Prayer doesn’t change God, she says, recalling the cinematic version of another favorite theologianPrayer changes us. The more unrighteous people are, the more changing they need, and thus the more they need to pray and have those prayers heard.

Of course, that assumes there is any gradation among the unrighteous. And in a truly Christian view, any conceivable gradations that distinguish John Thune and Mike Rounds as more righteous than Al Franken or Amy Klobuchar are infinitesimal compared to original sin, the fundamental and humanly irreparable fallibility that stains all mankind.

Ralph Drollinger and his favored Christians do not have God’s private phone number. They do not have a divine right to rule. And they do not have any theological basis for their unChristian claim that they and their Great Leader are more righteous or more suited to public service in the eyes of an infinite and constantly disappointed Creator than any of their fellow beings.


17 Responses to Thune, Rounds Support Bad Dominionist Theology in Capitol Bible Study

  1. ” “What exactly is the Republican party willing to do? How far are they willing to go? How much of this country and our values are they willing to sell out?”” Joe Scarborough with pitch perfect questions on our directions as a country as he leaves this cesspool. Rounds/Thune have decided that we need more God in the way we have government. Really? We Americans condemn Iran for the same thing and yet, we have willing accomplices to promote the identical same thing. God is busy and we certainly do not need government officials force feeding His word with daily calls to prayer. Kneeling at the gas stations or in the markets is not my idea of what the Founding Fathers had in mind as to what our reason for leaving the Church of England was all about. Taxpayers already foot the bill for the land and buildings religion requires for its industry, why should we taxpayers be subject to Biblical Old Testament Law in a democracy? Are we going to have public executions? Will there be the obligatory stoneings due to dress codes or getting laid? Bringing back the stocks and wearing the scarlet letter of A.

  2. Roger Elgersma

    Of course God listens to those who listen to him. But in the parable of the priest praying a long prayer and the outcast beating his chest asking for mercy, God gave more attention to the outcast. Each situation is different and assuming that God has a favorite who gets all they want is just absurd. I was an excellent Christian and excellent parent and prayed for custody of my kids and lost them to a very bad person who my kids still say is not a Christian 25 years later. All that happened is that I learned that the court does not follow God or do what is in the best interest of the children. That is life in the real world and why some do not believe there is a God.

  3. mike from iowa

    Ralph Drollinger, the minister who leads regular prayer and Bible study meetings with members of President Trump’s cabinet and members of Congress, says in his written Bible study guide for this month, “Do not be deceived by syncretistic, ‘prayer breakfasts:’ God only hears the prayers of leaders and citizens who are upright, who live righteously through faith in Jesus Christ” [Peter Montgomery, “Leader of Trump Cabinet Bible Study: God Only Hears Prayers of ‘Righteous’ Christians,” Right Wing Watch, 2017.07.11].

    Tell me this is what passes as wingnut humor.

  4. Porter Lansing

    I see what you did there, Cory. Excellent post ….. ♛♛♛♛♛ 🕊

  5. Steve Hickey

    Anyone who prays the Lord’s Prayer… Thy Kingdom Come… On earth, as in heaven…. is praying dominionism.

  6. Thanks for this post, Cory. Even though we usually disagree about religious topics, I’m still glad you address them.

    Cory writes:

    Right Wing Watch reports a strange manifestation of Christian dominionism…

    The article at your link explicitly indicates that Drollinger doesn’t advocate dominionism.

    Cory writes:

    Drollinger’s Capitol Ministries® Members Bible Study lists Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds among its sponsors. Thune and Rounds apparently support Drollinger’s notion that only his flavor of Christians can effectively lead the our nation…

    Involvement with Capitol Ministries doesn’t imply a blanket endorsement of everything Drollinger says, and in any case the article at your link doesn’t claim that only Drollinger’s flavor of Christians can effectively lead our nation.

    Brendan O’Connor writes:

    … Drollinger has … proclaimed that Catholicism is “the world’s largest false religion”…

    Protestant Christians have always said Roman Catholicism is a false religion. That’s why we’re called Protestants. Drollinger may have misspoken, though, since Islam has several hundred million more adherents than Catholicism.

    Cory writes:

    The most righteous man ever to walk the Earth prayed that a cup pass him by and saw that prayer go unanswered.

    Christ’s prayer was as follows: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” If it wasn’t possible to accomplish God’s will without suffering, Christ prayed that God’s will would be done. One could make a strong case that His prayer was answered.
    (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=NASB&search=Matthew_26:39)

    Cory writes:

    Ralph Drollinger and his favored Christians … do not have any theological basis for their unChristian claim that they and their Great Leader are more righteous in the eyes of an infinite and constantly disappointed Creator than any of their fellow beings.

    Who’s the “Great Leader” mentioned here? (I’m sincerely asking.)

  7. Blanket endorsement? The sheet says “sponsors”. I wouldn’t want my name on a document like this calling me a “sponsor”, because any reasonable observer would conclude I support it.

    But yeah, Mike Rounds couldn’t be endorsing Drollinger’s theology, since Mike Rounds is one of those Catholics who follow a false religion. Uh oh.

    Drollinger not Dominionist? He wants a government run exclusively by his flavor of Christians. His quote seems to make clear that anything less than the complete conversion of every political leader to his brand of Christianity means the nation will fail. His words leave no room in government or civic life for Catholics (again, Mike Rounds, are you paying attention?), Muslims, Jews, atheists, or other non Drollingites. Run whatever technical definition you want; Drollinger smells like a an exclusivist theocrat.

    Great Leader = Il Duce = Donald Trump.

  8. On God not answering Jesus’s prayer—note that I link to C.S. Lewis’s statement to that effect. Sure, Jesus wanted God’s will to be done. Every Christian does. But Jesus also didn’t want to die. He said so. And God didn’t grant that portion of Jesus’s petitionary prayer. The point stands: you can be more righteous than humanly possible and still not get everything you pray for. As an atheist just trying to make sense of this belief set lots of my neighbors, that seems to be a really important point: Prayer is not a transaction. It’s not a Christmas-gift hotline. And the frequency of material results from prayer is not an indicator of righteousness. According to Christianity, we all suck. None of us deserve to have our prayers answered. And nothing we do on Earth—not kissing the Pope’s ring, not flagellating ourselves, not putting more money in the plate, not hosting more prayer breakfasts—makes us more worthy of having our prayers heard by an infinite God.

  9. III Tre Duce=bozohead http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/12/politics/trump-prayer-photo/index.html So when do we turn into Northern Ireland or Iraq with the warring religious groups declaring their God is bigger than your God. No, mine is real and yours is fake. I’m rubber and you’re glue…Mom!

  10. mike from iowa

    Nice one. Jerry. Now I KNEED a shower-bad! Crikey!

  11. Roger Cornelius

    Yesterday in the parking lot of a local grocery store I saw this bumper sticker: The last time we mixed religion and government people were burned at the stake”.
    About that CNN link showing Trump bowing his head in prayer, we should all be frightened about what he prays for.

  12. Mr. Trump doesn’t really pray. He’s a pretend prayer. You know…those people who go to Mr. H’s wife’s church just because they are expected to and they mouth the words to the chants and don’t really seriously contemplate their inner beings but mostly worry about church getting done in time for the football game kickoff.

    That’s 75% of churchgoers. Religion is for the weak-minded and I, for one, would like some solid conservative with common sense to step up and say “knock off all this overgodding.” It’s like the king who had no jammies story and everybody is just pretending.

  13. Roger, if I believed what Drollinger believes, I wouldn’t be frightened at all, because I’d know that, since Donald Trump isn’t righteous, God is ignoring his prayers, even if Trump stopped pretending.

    But then if I believed what Drollinger believes, God might not listen to my prayers, either, since the righteous don’t usually go around saying, “I’m righteous in God’s eyes and you, you, and you are not, so God won’t listen to you!”

  14. Cory writes:

    I wouldn’t want my name on a document like this calling me a “sponsor”, because any reasonable observer would conclude I support it.

    I’m wondering how you claim to know what every reasonable observer would conclude.

    But yeah, Mike Rounds couldn’t be endorsing Drollinger’s theology, since Mike Rounds is one of those Catholics who follow a false religion.

    Rounds could conceivably endorse some of Drollinger’s theology without endorsing all of it.

    Drollinger not Dominionist?

    The article at your own link indicates that he doesn’t advocate dominionism.

    He wants a government run exclusively by his flavor of Christians… His words leave no room in government or civic life for Catholics (again, Mike Rounds, are you paying attention?), Muslims, Jews, atheists, or other non Drollingites.

    I’m wondering how you claim to know what Drollinger wants, and which of his words you’d say leave no room for “non Drollingites” in government or civic life.

    Sure, Jesus wanted God’s will to be done. Every Christian does. But Jesus also didn’t want to die. He said so.

    No, He didn’t say He didn’t want to die. If it wasn’t possible to accomplish God’s will without suffering, Christ explicitly prayed that God’s will would be done.

    Jerry writes:

    So when do we turn into Northern Ireland or Iraq with the warring religious groups declaring their God is bigger than your God. No, mine is real and yours is fake. I’m rubber and you’re glue…Mom!

    When traditional pro-liberty Protestants were in charge during the 1800s, the federal government mostly left Catholics alone. Now that corrupt authoritarian Catholics like Chief Justice Roberts have come to power, the federal government doesn’t leave anyone alone.

    Roger Cornelius writes:

    Yesterday in the parking lot of a local grocery store I saw this bumper sticker: The last time we mixed religion and government people were burned at the stake”.

    Since we’re on the subject, John Forest seems to have been the only Roman Catholic leader burned at the stake under a nominally Protestant government, while nominally Catholic governments imposed such executions on hundreds of Protestant leaders.

    “Grudznick” writes:

    Mr. Trump doesn’t really pray. He’s a pretend prayer. You know…those people who go to Mr. H’s wife’s church just because they are expected to and they mouth the words to the chants and don’t really seriously contemplate their inner beings but mostly worry about church getting done in time for the football game kickoff.

    That’s 75% of churchgoers.

    The percentage may have been that high during the 1970s, but it’s probably declining now that there’s so little social pressure for pretenders to go to church at all.

  15. Kurt, to sponsor means to support. Show me a reasonable observer who says, “X sponsors Y, but X doesn’t support Y.”

    Drollinger says, “We need today to convert Public Servants who are lost without Christ!” That’s the text that tells me he only considers people who share his beliefs worthy of and effective in public office.

    Yes, yes, Jesus wanted his dad’s will to be done. But Jesus also prayed that Dad’s will would coincide with his not having to die that day in that gruesome way.

  16. Cory writes:

    Show me a reasonable observer who says, “X sponsors Y, but X doesn’t support Y.”

    I’d say a reasonable observer could conclude that Stan Adelstein sponsors this blog but that Stan Adelstein doesn’t support everything Cory Heidelberger says. In the same way, I’d say a reasonable observer could conclude that Thune and Rounds sponsor the Bible study but that Thune and Rounds don’t support everything Ralph Drollinger says.

    Drollinger says, “We need today to convert Public Servants who are lost without Christ!” That’s the text that tells me he only considers people who share his beliefs worthy of and effective in public office.

    I’m not sure the statement you’ve quoted justifies your conclusion, but thanks for clarifying.

    But Jesus also prayed that Dad’s will would coincide with his not having to die that day in that gruesome way.

    We disagree.

  17. Fair response on sponsorship, Kurt. I wonder: does sponsorship of a general circulation blog with a clear partisan bent differ from sponsorship of an evangelical Bible study that cannot take place in the Capitol without the sponsorship of an elected official?

    More on Drollinger’s belief that every effective elected official must be Christian, from same source as above:

    All would agree that characteristics of righteousness are necessary to the dispatch of good government, but the only way to produce these virtues in leaders is through the discipleship efforts of the Church in the lives of individuals. As the Church goes then, so goes the State [Drollinger, 2017.07.10].

    Righteousness is necessary to good government. Only Christian discipleship produces righteousness. Therefore, only righteous Christians can govern effectively. Therefore, atheists, Jews, Muslims, and other else-believers should not govern.