Trump Cabinet Spiritual Adviser Shares His Views, and Some Find Them Spooky

Evangelicals lay their hands on President Donald Trump at the White House in September. The man who advises President Donald Trump’s nine fundamentalist Cabinet members has shared his favorite superstitions, including that Earth was created in six days and that women can’t teach men. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

In time for Hallowe'en, the man who advises President Donald Trump's nine fundamentalist Cabinet members has shared his favorite superstitions, including that Earth was created in six days, that women can't teach men, that the U.S. government is required by God to "moralize a fallen world through the use of force" and that Trump is "an adjudicator of wrongdoing."

Ralph Drollinger, a former NBA player who founded Capitol Ministries (CapMin) 20 years ago, preaches a flinty fundamentalism that dispenses with Jesus's teachings about compassion, love and tolerance in favor of a more tribal, Old Testament world view in which God disapproves of government aid to the poor, and of liberals in general.

In 2017, CapMin vastly expanded its worldly power after Trump installed a Cabinet with an unprecedented theocratic bent. Since March, Drollinger has been holding weekly Bible-study sessions for Trump's cabinet members. He will soon be moving his meetings into a room in the West Wing of the White House, not far from the Oval Office, to accommodate Vice President Mike Pence's security needs.

Drollinger doesn't talk to American journalists, because, like the president, he feels "they just make things up." (His office declined to participate in Newsweek's cover story on God and Trump, for example, using the excuse that he was hiking in the Sierras.) But he agreed to an extensive interview with a reporter from the German daily Welt am Sonntag, possibly because he hopes to expand his evangelical NGO into Germany.

After reading the interview, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Drollinger and his flock are "one step removed from a Christian fundamentalist version of ISIS."

Here are some nuggets of wisdom from the man who spends an hour every week shepherding Pence and Cabinet Secretaries Carson (Housing and Urban Development), DeVos (Education), Perry (Energy), Perdue (Agriculture) and Pompeo (CIA), and Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and others.

The U.S. government is "an avenger of wrath."

"I supported Trump from very early on in the campaign, and Jeff Sessions would tell you I influenced him to do the same in the Bible study. The Bible contains some criteria for someone who's going to lead in the state. The primary passages are Romans 13:1–8 and Peter 2:13–14, both reiterate the idea that the institution of state does not bear the sword for nothing. It's an "avenger of wrath": It punishes those who do evil and it rewards those who do good. So the major God-given responsibility, the state's primary calling, is to "moralize a fallen world through the use of force."

Trump is "an adjudicator of wrongdoing."

"I started sending him my Bible studies when he was running his campaign, and Trump has been writing notes back to me ever since, in a positive sense. He likes loyalty.... I think the best president is the one who is best going to use government as an adjudicator of wrongdoing. And I always thought that Trump would be the best at that."

He serves up a "high-protein diet" of God to Cabinet members.

"When Trump won the presidency and chose Pence, Pence chose a bunch of the strongest believers out of the House Bible study and out of the Senate Bible study. And, again, those guys say, "Come with us, we love the high-protein diet of the Word of God that you've been giving us." So now we have three Bible studies in Washington: one for the House on Mondays, one for the Senate on Tuesdays and the one for the Cabinet on Wednesdays."

He believes women can't teach men.

"The Bible says that men need to be taught by men. It doesn't ever say that women should be teaching men.… Of course, women can teach, but only women, or males under a certain age. But female legislators can also sit in on a male Bible study. I have a lot of female legislators that sit in on my ministry.… It's hard to get around the fact God seems to be describing male leadership here. I may not have set it up the same way, but He did, and I just want to be true to that. That's what it means to be a servant who just wants to carry the meal out of the kitchen correctly and not alter the meal."

He won't go into a room alone with a woman not his wife, not even a Cabinet secretary.

"If I need to follow up with, say, Betsy DeVos, it's better that my wife Danielle is with me or that she follows up with Betsy DeVos. I would not write Betsy DeVos emails about her issues and whatever. It's just safer in terms of the integrity of the ministry and the optics of the ministry that Danielle handles the female workload rather than me. Like I'll never go into an office, shut the door with a female member and talk about her marital issues, you know. That's just asking for trouble."

His first wife left him for a woman.

"I tried to do everything I could to save my first marriage, but she went into the lesbian lifestyle, and that was 20 years ago."

He believes the forgery-riddled biblical archaeology field has proven the Bible true.

"How often do I hear, 'You can't find this and that in the archaeological records to support what the Bible says.' Well, now there's so much more biblical archaeological discovery that it really supports the infallibility of the word of God. You would be really amazed."

He believes Earth was made in six days.

"Disbanding the six days of creation would make me a whole lot more insecure because I couldn't just do away the passages where Jesus quotes the creation account in the New Testament. Rather than being the interpretive power over the book, I let the book be the interpretive power over me."

He denies he's a lobbyist.

"Lobbyists focus on a particular topic, on a particular vote. Our goal is to change the hearts of the people. We're heart driven rather than policy driven. I think if we were 100 percent successful at that, then there would be very little need for Christian lobbyists. You don't have to tell Mike Pence how to vote, because his heart is already captive to the obedience of Christ."

But he dresses sharp.

"We teach all our guys you've got to dress a cut above. The speaker should always be a cut above his audience, but not two cuts above. I have to wear a suit, an English wool suit of fine make, tailored, all-cotton dress shirt with cuff links (the White House cuff link), all Italian silk tie (13-ounce silk with a dimple knot) a white T-shirt underneath my all cotton white dress shirt, Allen Edmonds shoes (custom-made leather shoes, 'cause I'm a size 17.) But that's what the politicians wear, and if I don't dress a cut above them, they'll say this guy doesn't belong in our club, he's not on our level. It's expensive to play that game, but otherwise you'll shoot yourself in the foot."

He makes Rick Perry feel better about his record number of executions.

"The institution of state 'does not bear the sword for nothing.' So I'll ask the Cabinet members, Do you think there is a contradiction? How do you relate this to your own lives? And Rick Perry [who also vetoed a ban on executing the mentally retarded] says, 'So what you're telling me is when I induce capital punishment, as the governor, I'm wearing my state hat, and there's every place for that biblically. But in terms of me, when I'm not wearing my state hat, I need to be forgiving of that individual that I just put to death?' I said, 'You got it,' and he looks at me and says, 'You know, if I would've known that when I was governor of Texas, that would've made my life a whole lot different. The press used to beat me up on that seeming contradiction all the time, and I never had the theology clear in my mind, so I used to feel guilty. But when I see it clearly through the lens of scripture, it guides my conscience.' Well that leads for good governance."