by Eli Clifton
An examination by LobeLog of statements and studies by Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo’s “spiritual adviser” reveals a deeply ingrained anti-Muslim theology coupled with a conviction that U.S. military engagement overseas is justified by nothing less than the Bible itself.
Ralph Drollinger, a 7’1” former professional basketball player who established Capitol Ministries in 1997, has drawn attention for his role as the organizer of a weekly prayer group in the White House. Attendees include Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, and cabinet secretaries Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Rick Perry, Sonny Perdue, and Jeff Sessions. But Pompeo’s association with the preacher goes back to at least October 2012, when his name was first listed as a sponsor of Drollinger’s weekly congressional Bible study group while the future CIA director was still a freshman congressman.
Drollinger’s White House followers are perhaps the most reactionary members of an increasingly rightwing administration. In an October 2017 interview with the German daily Welt am Sonntag, Drollinger, among other assertions, characterized the U.S. government as “an avenger of wrath,” hailed Trump as “an adjudicator of wrongdoing,” and claimed that women shouldn’t teach grown men.
Pompeo’s nomination to succeed the hapless Rex Tillerson is already under scrutiny for a variety of reasons, including his well-established hawkishness, his own history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, and his eagerness to take policy positions, even publicly, despite his position as head of the CIA. A number of Democratic senators and as well as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have said they will oppose his nomination, and the Trump administration may find itself in a major confirmation battle next month.
His apparent affinity for Drollinger and his worldview are unlikely to make matters easier.
A Shared Islamophobia
Many of Drollinger’s Bible studies are posted on Capitol Ministries’s website, and his anti-Muslim perspective is sprinkled regularly into fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity.
In a March 2014 bible study, listing Pompeo as a cosponsor on the sidebar, Drollinger offered his own summary of Islam. He wrote:
This religion is based in part on plagiarisms from the Old Testament – plagiarisms that amount for much of the content of the Koran. To quickly illustrate this, note that in the Koran’s paraphrase and plagiarism of Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image” (a direct early OT reference to the Trinity) that Muslim scholars have no response to this and many other plagiary-related issues. In this instance, Muslims deny the Trinitarian nature of God, so they should have omitted borrowing this passage! This religion has historically spread through the sword and seeks nothing less than world conquest for Allah. Allah was the moon-god worshipped in the Middle Eastern part of the world long before Mohammed came on the scene to found his religion (hundreds of years after the life of Christ). Salvation per Islamic theology is not attained via a loving, self-sacrificing act of God (as per Christianity); it is attained by jihad, a sacrifice of self in combatting the infidels. Whereas in biblical Christianity, God gives His life for man, in Islam, man must give his life for his god.
According to a June 2014 bible study on “The Bible as an Aid to TST – Terrorist Sensitivity Training,”
NOT EVERY MUSLIM IS A TERRORIST BUT EVERY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST IN RECENT HISTORY HAS BEEN A MUSLIM
IS IT NOT DETESTABLE THAT THE ISLAMIC CLERGY FAIL TO CONDEMN THE EVIL THEIR FELLOW MUSLIMS DO IN THE NAME OF ISLAM?
Together, these insights serve to inform the world about the Islamic religion itself! And any serious and objective student of the Koran understands this: The book instructs its adherents to advance Islam by the sword. This is not in question.
That perspective closely mirrors controversial statements made by Pompeo a year earlier in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing when he inaccurately accused Muslim religious leaders of being “silent” in the aftermath of the attack and “potentially complicit.”
A 2013 Capitol Ministries study attributed theological differences to the reason the U.S. economy outpaced Buddhist and Muslim-majority countries. “The reason for this momentous growth is Christianity,” according to Drollinger.
Unlike other religions, Christianity combines rational thinking and human dignity. Hinduism teaches its adherents to empty their minds of rational thought. Islam on the other hand, rejects God’s incarnation through Christ, depriving its adherents of a role model of God’s characteristic humaneness. [editor’s note: One wonders what he thinks about Judaism.]
He later observed:
Hindu countries have been stymied in historic poverty. And no one needs to read a book to understand the lack of human dignity rooted in the culture of Islam. As a result, Muslim economies are largely built on western developed oil exportation.
Drollinger also compared Islam to communism in the March 2014 bible study: “Today Communism, in its atheistic political ideology is another such illustration; it persecutes the Church wherever it goes, as do Islamic ideologues as they expand their religiously exclusive political ideology.”
And according to a 2011 bible study,
Christianity places a high value on women (cf. Gal. 3:28). The husband therefore is to honor his wife, not diminish her, if he is to be effective in prayer (contr: male-chauvinistic Islam, wherein males “pray” numerous times per day). One’s attitude toward their mate, the Bible says, directly relates to their power in prayer.
A Shared Iranophobia
The June 2014 study went on to link this view of Islam to Iranian uranium enrichment:
Workers of iniquity know nothing of the just war theory; their very form of combat, rooted in the cowardly exploitation of innocent blood via surprise attacks bespeaks of their evil nature. Given this history of Islamist terrorism, especially their use of explosives to kill and injure innocent civilians, it follows that there is no way America or Israel should tolerate uranium enrichment programs in any theocratic Muslim country Given. God’s counsel via the clear principled instruction of Proverbs, specifically that evil men do not understand justice.
IT IS SHEER LUNACY FOR AMERICA TO PERMIT IRAN TO GO AS FAR AS THEY HAVE IN THEIR NUCLEAR PROGRAM!
Pompeo apparently shared Drollinger’s hawkish view. At the same time, he suggested that taking military action against Iran was preferable to negotiations, noting that, “…[I]t is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.” Just before his formal nomination as CIA director, he tweeted, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”
A Question of Alignment
Pompeo’s decision to align himself with Drollinger shortly after his election to the House of Representatives in 2010 indicates that the Trump administration’s choice for the nation’s top diplomat might embrace, if not actively practice, a radical view of Christianity that has little or no respect for other faiths, particularly Islam and its 1.8 billion adherents.
For his part, Drollinger has never shied away from advancing his own view of Washington’s role in the world. According to a 2015 “Members Bible Study” on “The ISIS Threat” that listed Pompeo as a sponsor,
There can be no doubt that America’s presence throughout the world—its just, historic presence outside its own boundaries—be it as a member of NATO, signing the Monroe Doctrine, defense treaties with Taiwan and Israel, or its willing and welcomed presence to support military bases in the Philippines, Germany, Korea and Japan, have all greatly aided in peacemaking and peacekeeping throughout the world. This is the fruit of biblically justified intervention! When America is strong, and the threat of her intervening is ever-present the world is a much safer place. And the opposite is now increasingly apparent: When American intervention is of a lesser possibility, unrest and evil aggression rise.
Drollinger’s Capitol Ministries is hardly an upstart or small operation. Its website says, “Capitol Ministries plants and develops biblical ministries of evangelism and discipleship to Public Servants,” and aspires to establish “200 ministries in 200 countries,” “10,000 ministries in 33,000 cities,” “50 ministries in 50 states,” and “3 ministries in 3 branches.” The group’s strategy is: “to reach Public Servants for Christ at every stop along their career paths, beginning with their first local elected or appointed positions and following as they ascend to higher office.”
Correction: April 1, 2018
An earlier version of this article inaccurately listed the number of ministries operated by Capitol Ministries.
Photo: Ralph Drollinger (Capitol Ministries).