An announcement is expected during the Sept. 26 prayer march on the National Mall in Washington that top White House figures are attending a new weekly Bible study to be hosted by a former NBA star-turned-Christian missionary to government.
The group of six “high-ranking Trump administration officials” met for the first time last week, Capitol Ministries founder and President Ralph Drollinger told The Epoch Times on Sept. 24.
Drollinger is among the scheduled speakers for Sept. 26’s The Return, billed by organizers as a day of “prayer and repentance in the nation’s capital on the National Mall.”
Rev. Kevin Jissip of the Global Strategic Alliance and Jonathan Cahn, a pastor and former rabbi, are co-chairmen of The Return, which includes Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King, MyPillow President Mike Lindell, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, and Dr. James Dobson on its board of directors.
Also on Sept. 26, the Rev. Franklin Graham will lead Christians coming to the nation’s capital from across the nation to pray for the country on a prayer walk starting at the Lincoln Memorial and ending at the U.S. Capitol. Graham is the son of Billy Graham and founder of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international humanitarian aid organization.
“As a Christian, being grounded in the Bible is critical to being a faithful witness in the public square, and these studies with like-minded officials work to edify and encourage us in our work,” Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought told The Epoch Times on Sept. 24.
A spokesman for Vought declined to provide names of other participants, but Drollinger said he expects the group to grow as “many more are planning to come.”
President Donald Trump wasn’t present at the first meeting but is supportive of it, Drollinger said.
The new White House group is the second planted by Capitol Ministries in the Trump administration. A group of Trump cabinet officials—including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, then-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Vice President Mike Pence—has been meeting weekly for several years for the study sessions led by Drollinger.
“Having enough perspective to realize that people who disagree with you are not automatically your enemies and learning how to treat each other and the constituents of this nation with respect will go a long way toward healing our nation,” Carson is quoted as saying in the group’s 2019 annual report. “The work of Capitol Ministries is interwoven into those goals.”
The Trump Cabinet study gathering prompted a New York Times Magazine writer to describe it as “perhaps the most influential small-group Bible study in the world.”
Capitol Ministries has been hosting similar weekly study groups among members of the House of Representatives since 2010 and among senators since 2015.
“Getting together with my Senate colleagues for Bible study is a highlight of my week. It’s a time where we can shut out all the partisan noise and focus on what matters most, our faith,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said in the group’s most recent annual report.
“This important ministry helps creates an environment where we can come together to build unity over divisiveness and reminds us to seek and maintain harmony within our families, friendships, communities, and nation,” Ernst said.
Capitol Ministries has also established similar study groups in 43 state capitals in the United States and in 24 foreign capitals overseas. The group is a tax-exempt 501(C)(3) educational foundation that accepts no government funding.
“Government leaders attend the Capitol Ministries Bible studies on their own time. All costs of the studies are paid for by Capitol Ministries, no tax dollars are spent,” according to the background memo.
Drollinger is no stranger to controversy, because of a 2018 New York Times op-ed that sought, inaccurately, to paint him and other evangelicals who gathered at the then-recently opened Museum of the Bible as “Christian Nationalists” intent on establishing a theocracy.
The 7-foot-2 inch Drollinger played on two UCLA national championship teams coached by John Wooden, and was drafted by NBA teams three times.
But he delayed going to the NBA in order to play for three seasons on the Athletes in Action team sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ. He later became the first player signed by the NBA expansion team Dallas Mavericks.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc