In August of 2017 a story turned up on the right wing media channel, the Christian Broadcasting Network - later picked up by most of the mainstream news outlets - that I seemed to have missed. They reported that for the first time in US history the White House is conducting weekly Bible classes running over one hour each and administered by an evangelical preacher named Ralph Drollinger who intends to "evangelize elected officials and lead them toward maturity in Christ." Mr. Drollinger is famously anti-gay, anti-women and anti-Catholic, which he terms a "false religion" - ironic for someone preaching "maturity in Christ". About women, he has this to say: "there is a prohibition of female leadership in marriage, and female leadership in the church. And those are clear in scripture" it doesn't mean, in an egalitarian sense, that a woman is of lesser importance. It's just that they have different roles." (Like what, Ralph? cooking and cleaning? sex on demand? )
In his BBC interview, Drollinger claims he does not "tell elected officials how to vote" but he does "teach" them how to vote. He said this: "I will put the blueprint on the engineer's seat on the train," And it will show you the right tracks to the station." He encourages cabinet members to quote the Bible in press conferences, which they are in fact doing, along the lines of the "eye for an eye" Old Testament. So who all is in this cabal? So far ten evangelical members of the cabinet, including VP Mike Pence, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (If you would like to skip my horrified response to this news item, just go to Newsweek and read their dry reporting on it. My horrified response follows.)
What's going on? Did Pence choose the current cabinet and persuade Trump to oust former members who were not die-hard evangelicals ? One has to wonder. And what is an unorthodox preacher doing wandering the halls of the United States Capital lobbying for condemnation of Americans he does not like? Do we still have separation of church and state or has that gone the way of the 4th amendment and freedom of the press? There is nothing Christian about hatred of gays, Catholics and working mothers. There is nothing Christian about hatred. period. The percentage of the US population that self-identifies as evangelical is down from 23% to 17% as of 2016. But many of those 17% appear to now be in seats of power. When I think about where this is leading, it scares the s**t out of me. Scarier yet is that, according to the BBC, Drollinger and his private group, "Capital Ministries" have "started Bible classes in 43 state capitals as well as both houses of Congress." Cue theme from the Twilight Zone.
So who is this guy? - While Mr. Drollinger appears to have obtained a masters in divinity from UCLA, I can find no evidence that he is an ordained minister in any legitimate, recognized church nor has he ever been - not even in the evangelical sects. It appears that, like many televangelists, he created his own religious organization and preaches from a privately constructed pulpit. For several years that was a basketball court. We can give that all the credibility it merits. I seriously question whether any legitimate evangelical church would support his hate-filled and repressive positions, but I could be wrong about that. His website bio is here if you are interested. Another humanist website quoted him as claiming that "Catholicism is the world's largest false religion","homosexuality is an abomination" and "it's sinful for women with children to serve in Congress." In the US Catholics, homosexuals and working mothers are all equal under the law. No state or federal law recognizes a preacher's interpretation of "sin" as having any legal weight, nor should such opinions be espoused inside any government building.
What is going on in
So here is the question - are we all going to wake up one morning and find that we are living, not in the US of A but in a totalitarian theocracy ? One where the billionaire class and the rightest of the right wing government officials are acting as our jailers ? Outrageous as that idea sounds, it is only remotely possible now thanks to the unprecedented level of economic inequality we have achieved. When our democracy was healthier and operated by consent of the governed rather than by corporate edict, such a coup would have been impossible. We have been on a slow train to a fascist police state since 911. The current administration has taken that train to warp speed.
Fast rewind to 1986 and Margaret Atwood's landmark novel, The
Handmaid's Tale, now returned to the best seller list thanks to Hulu's
brilliant online serialized film adaptation (not to be missed, by the way). Ms.
Atwood denies that the novel was written as prophecy. She just observed what
trends were taking hold in the
unfamiliar with the novel, it is a portrait of a future
So when I read that a wildly extremist preacher who terms Catholicism a "false religion" and believes that women must stay at home and be "subservient to their husbands" is "teaching" the White House cabinet how to govern, and "teaching" Congress and elected state officials how to vote - I want to get on the next flight to Toronto and never come back.
(Article changed on June 29, 2018 at 22:12)