Should we be concerned about weekly bible studies in the White House?
Capitol Ministries has been delivering the gospel to public servants since 1996. This is nothing new. They believe they have been commanded by God to spread the good news to political leaders as part of fulfilling The Great Commission. If you are interested in their ultimate goals, they have used a baseball diamond to illustrate their strategy of infiltrating all levels of government, from local to international.
(Reminder: The point of The Great Commission is not to create a world led by loving, God-fearing Christian leaders. The Bible is clear on how this will all end, and that isn’t it. Jesus wants to save souls, sure. But he also wants to be certain that everyone knows who he is when the apocalypse comes.)
You can even read their bible studies online. The most recent one is titled “Befitting and Unbefitting Anger in Office.” It focuses on Ephesians 4:25-32, and suggests that leaders follow these 5 points:
- Put off lying and speak truthfully.
- Put off selfish anger for righteous anger.
- Put off stealing and be industrious.
- Put off unwholesome talk and edify others.
- Put off bitterness and malice and show love.
Sounds like good advice for the current administration to me. But what kind of anger is “befitting” in office? According to Capitol Ministries:
There is a definite place for anger in the life of the believer. This kind of anger is commonly referred to as righteous indignation. When God’s character or attributes, His name or His Word, His will or His purposes are impugned, it is incumbent upon the believer to defend the truth. This is righteous anger over evil. As a matter of fact, to be uncrossed or complacent in the face of anger is to love not the God who saved you, who is righteous altogether (Psalm 19:9). Failure to react to manifest evil is “a sign of moral decadence and of godlessness and irreligion,” states D. Martin Lloyd Jones. It stands to reason, if we are to be Christ-like, then we too will hate sin and not tolerate it, because God hates sin.
But we already saw that coming.
The weekly White House sessions are led by Capitol Ministries’ founder himself, Ralph Drollinger. Drollinger made headlines back in 2004 when he suggested that women lawmakers with children at home are sinners; and I think that alone brings us all up to speed on what level of crazy conservatism is being taught in these classes.
President Trump has been invited, and receives a copy of each week’s lesson; but, as we know–unless he is mentioned every few lines, it is very doubtful that he reads it.
So is this a violation of the separation of church and state, or isn’t it? Well, that depends.
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 stresses 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.”
Now enter FOX news. Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Andrew Seidel was recently interviewed on FOX & Friends:
Notice the words displayed on the screen during this interview: Atheists Up In Arms Over White House Bible Study… Atheists Not Happy with White House Bible Study… Is Faith Not Welcome at the White House?
Has the White House adopted Christianity as its official religion, and are bible studies being included as part of the work day? Do staff members feel pressure to attend? Replace these questions with any other religion, and I imagine Christians would suddenly understand the importance of this separation.
Why do you suppose the host mentions that atheists only represent 7% of the American population? He doesn’t mention the statistics on non-religious, or other religions, like Catholicism—which Drollinger once called “one of the primary false religions of the world.” (Is Mike Pence okay with that?)
FOX News is only interested in reporting about how Christians are under attack for their faith at every turn–but don’t worry, because Christians are winning. That’s the real story, right? Fox & Friends is just reminding us who the enemy is, and pointing out how powerless and silly they are. Nothing else to see here…
Andrew also brings up the issue of whether or not this is proper. When he says, “…it can’t be considered proper, or in keeping with American values, for government officials to get together on taxpayer time to study a book that condones slavery and the subjugation of women, and the eternal torture and torment of people who don’t believe like you,” the host says “wow” and then shakes his head in disbelief as he hands the reigns over to his other guest.
I realize most Christians in America feel their faith is one of love, but history shows that the Christian Bible has been the fuel behind much bloodshed. And yes, they absolutely believe that those who do not accept Jesus as their personal savior will be tortured for eternity, and that this is a just and fair punishment for not believing in a God who has made his existence incredibly hard to prove.
Certainly we can point to numerous passages in the Old Testament, but we will be dismissed by the modern Christian, who needs only to point to Jesus. In fact, the loving model of Jesus is often used to explain why Christianity is superior to Islam. But then, why such a gruesome history, Christians?
Jesus may have taught us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but the actual passage (Matthew 22:36-40) is:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Have you ever wondered how conservative Christians manage to define their “anger” toward others as love? Go back and read last week’s White House bible lesson. It’s because they believe that helping people to love God and follow his commandments IS loving someone else as you love yourself.
And where, exactly, does that end? If you are willing to die for a God who you put above everything and everyone else, including yourself… does that present any danger for those of us who you view as enemies to your God?
I guess we are supposed to feel reassured because American Christians are weak in their faith. And yes, I do take comfort in that; but…do I want my elected officials, who represent me in government, to base policy decisions on this model of love?
But they can. Just like I can loudly proclaim my belief that they are wrong. And none of it means anyone’s rights are being violated; no Christians or atheists are being silenced or thrown in jail around here. That’s the best case scenario, you see. Everyone must be allowed to disagree openly and follow their own beliefs as they see fit.
To protect that freedom, for everyone, all religious activity which takes place in government, schools, or at work must be clearly voluntary and separate. There can be no official religion chosen, or a situation created where individuals feel pressured to participate in religious activities. It takes a certain level of understanding to recognize the difference between open discussion of beliefs, and an environment where those in a position of authority are pushing those beliefs onto others. At times, it can be a very subtle line.
While knowing and enforcing this difference is incredibly important to preserving our freedom, it in no way prevents conservative Christianity from infiltrating every part of our government and impacting policy. Their only complaint is that they are losing the unfair foothold they have always enjoyed, which will result in fewer Christians. It is a setback in The Great Commission, which they have been commanded to fulfill by their God. And in their eyes, it is the loving thing to do. So we cannot expect them to back down.
We must remember this, and continue to work toward bringing about a true separation of church and state, which has never existed in America. We must continue to examine cases of possible violation, especially in reference to our lawmakers. Where no violation has occurred, we must still exercise our equal freedom to make our voices of opposition heard. And we must continue to shine a light on the bad lessons being whispered into the ears of our leaders.