Former Texas Gov. and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is partnering with a religious-right effort to “disciple” 500,000 local officials into a conservative Christian “worldview” and shape public policies in 40,000 U.S. localities. Perry’s undertaking was announced in a June letter to supporters of Capitol Ministries from the organization’s president Ralph Drollinger, whose weekly Bible studies teach members of Trump’s Cabinet and the U.S. Congress that the Bible instructs public officials to support right-wing social, economic, environmental, and criminal justice policies.
“I am passionate about Capitol Ministries’ efforts to reach today’s 500,000 elected local government leaders with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and disciple them with the Word of God, so they may form a Christian worldview in their hearts,” Perry is quoted in the Drollinger letter. “I see this effort as critically important. America’s ideological future hangs in the balance.”
Drollinger and Capitol Ministries have aggressive expansion plans in multiple directions. Drollinger has previously announced Capitol Ministries’ goal of establishing “discipleship” ministries in 200 nations, all 50 states, and all 40,000 localities in the U.S. With help from Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Capitol Ministries is expanding its presence among high-level officials in foreign capitals. Perry has become the group’s “spokesman for Local Government Ministries.”
As part of the partnership, Perry has begun emailing local officials offering to send them a weekly Bible study taken from Drollinger’s “Oaks in Office,” a guidebook for conservative Christian public officials.
“This is a critical time for our nation,” Perry declared in an invitation included with Drollinger’s letter. “Spreading secularism is threatening to smother the very values that our founding fathers based out country upon—values that you and I hold very dear.”
Perry wrote that Capitol Ministries’ Bible studies that he participated in as a cabinet member were “in-depth, theologically sound and they drilled deep in Scripture.” He added, “They helped us all understand more about God, biblical truths, and what God expects of us as leaders.”
Drollinger’s letter affirmed that the studies being sent to local officials who respond to Perry’s emails “examine crucial policy issues through the timeless lens of God’s Word”—meaning scripture as interpreted by Drollinger.
Drollinger is not humble about his approach to the Bible, dismissing those who interpret scripture and its demands differently than he does. He has demonstrated contempt for liberal Christians and the “social gospel,” and he has described the Catholic Church as “one of the primary false religions in the world.” He teaches that legislators who do not share his worldview cannot be counted on to do the right thing because, he has written, “the longer a person rejects Christ, the greater his depravity becomes.”
Drollinger’s Bible studies, which are available online, instruct public officials that the government’s job is to “quell evil” and punish sin; that “as a lawmaker it is incumbent on you to stand for the death penalty”; that entitlement programs lack “any basis of biblical authority”; that “radical environmentalism” is a “false religion.” Drollinger recruits only men to run Capitol Ministries Bible studies, because he believes women are not permitted to teach men about the Bible.
In March, Drollinger complained about “evil pork” in coronavirus relief legislation, fretting that unemployment benefits in the bill might be an “impetus to slothfulness” and “antithetical to free-market capitalism.”
Drollinger, who insists that he is not a Christian nationalist, tells Christian public officials that they should refuse to participate in interfaith “syncretistic” prayer breakfasts; syncretism refers to the blending of belief systems. According to Drollinger, “God only hears the prayers of leaders and citizens who are upright, who live righteously through faith in Jesus Christ.”
When Perry was a member of Trump’s cabinet and participating in Drollinger’s weekly Bible studies, other cabinet members called Perry the “teacher’s pet,” Drollinger told Intercessors for America’s prayer warriors in 2018. Perry was among the featured speakers at Capitol Ministries’ global training session for ministry leaders that was held at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. in December.
Drollinger asked IFA’s intercessors to pray that cabinet officials would use their platforms to fulfill the “Great Commission”—the biblical command by Jesus to his followers to “make disciples of all nations.” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Trump-appointed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine have both raised money for Capitol Ministries.
Drollinger’s letter asks for financial contributions to support the “massive effort” which, he wrote, “will impact not only the eternal souls of local political leaders but the very future of the United States.”
Perry’s ill-fated bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination was unofficially launched with a prayer rally backed by religious-right leaders and many of the “apostles” and “prophets” who are now among Trump’s strongest supporters.