Focus on the Family founder James Dobson devoted two segments of his Family Talk radio show last week to broadcasting an interview with Ralph Drollinger and his wife, Danielle. Drollinger leads right-wing Bible studies for members of the U.S. Congress and the cabinet of President Donald Trump. His Capitol Ministries group also sponsors similar outreach to public officials in 42 state capitals—and a growing number of nations around the world. Not stopping there, he has his eyes on 40,000 incorporated cities in the U.S., virtually none of which, he says, have a similar “outpost for Christ”—which is why Capitol Ministries is targeting them with its “Civic Reach” project.
Ralph took the opportunity to promote “Oaks in Office,” four-volume compilation of 52 of his weekly written Bible studies that he thinks “are most pertinent to Christian worldview development,” with specific application to the life of a public servant. As we have noted, Drollinger seeks to evangelize and “disciple” public officials to embrace his “very conservative” version of Christianity; he teaches them that the Bible mandates right-wing economic, environmental, and social policies, and that the government’s job is to “quell evil” and punish sin.
The Drollingers’ interview with Dobson didn’t reveal much new about their ministry or their ambitions: As he has done before, Drollinger talked about his expanding influence in Washington over the last decade as members of his House of Representatives Bible study group got elected to the Senate and started one there. And then after Trump’s election, Drollinger said, “someone in the Trump administration was plucking guys out of our House and Senate Bible study” and “now we have 11 White House cabinet members in our weekly Wednesday morning Bible study.”
Danielle added, “And, Dr. Dobson, it’s the best Bible study I’ve ever been involved with. They come early, they leave late, they just are devouring the word.”
In the second part of the interview, Ralph Drollinger spelled out his reason for focusing on public officials; feeding them a “high-protein diet” of his take on scripture, he said, “builds spiritual musculature.”
Right actions begin with right thinking and right thinking begins with thinking right about God. So, how can you expect right actions in terms of the course of a nation unless your nation’s leaders think right? And how can you expect them to think right if they don’t know the Word of God? … And we’re in a biblically illiterate America—increasingly so. There has to be a spiritual dimension to this, and it comes through the church doing its job of teaching the Word of God to political leaders.
“I mean we can’t expect men and women in office to vote right if they reject the author of the book that we live by,” said Danielle. “You just can’t, you have to start at the heart of the matter, which is the heart of the man and the heart of the woman. Good laws come from good hearts, bad laws come from bad hearts.”
Ralph talked a bit about Capitol Ministries’ growth internationally, and the help they are getting from U.S. officials:
We just started an Arabic translation because of all places, Capitol Ministries is going to Iraq because there’s a pastor there that wants to be the ministry leader for Capitol Ministries in Baghdad, because he’s got all these parliamentarians in his church. That’s a long story, another radio program. …
We just started a new ministry in Ecuador and the American ambassador, who is a believer, is helping us with that. We’ve got a great Ecuadorian ministry leader and the assistant to the speaker—the equivalent in their parliamentary system of their speaker—she’s a strong believer and she just asked our ministry leader to come in and start a ministry in the capital with all the members. …
Yeah, we’re in Romania, we’re in Ukraine, we’re about to start in Latvia. We have a new guy that we’re bringing into the EU, he’s going to be the ministry leader in Brussels, and one week out of the month they meet in Strasbourg, France. So, you’ve got to be agile. And he’s going to develop ministry amongst the 26-nation EU parliament in Brussels. And from there, be our regional director to start ministries in all the Western European federal capitals.
Trump doesn’t attend the cabinet Bible study meetings, but he gets copies of the weekly written studies. Ralph Drollinger told Dobson that Trump “writes me back notes on my Bible studies quite often.”
Dobson called the Drollingers “longtime friends” and told a story about late basketball great Pete Maravich dropping dead on a basketball court after playing a friendly game with Drollinger and folks from Focus on the Family. Drollinger and Dobson tried without success to revive Maravich. Drollinger said the incident left a deep impression about how fragile life is and that “only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Dobson said he knew Danielle from a time when she was working in the California state legislature, where they were “having terrific battles going on, even then, over righteousness,” said Dobson, adding that Danielle “stood out as somebody who would not compromise.” She eventually went to work for Focus on the Family and later on the staff of a congressional committee before returning to California to run a conservative PAC. Danielle is described as Ralph’s partner in ministry, but she could never lead one of the group’s Bible studies—because her husband doesn’t believe the Bible permits women to teach men.