Religious right informing policy

I’ve written in this space before about the White House Bible Study group organized by Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries, as well as the study groups in the U.S. House and Senate organized by Drollinger. Capitol Ministries’ unfettered access to the Executive Branch and Congress already violates church/state separation, but now we are seeing its influence on public policy with disturbing clarity.

Recently, the group held a meeting centered on “The Importance of Parenting and the Course of the Nation” from which many talking points were borrowed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (a regular attendee of the Bible study sessions) and White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders regarding children separated from their parents and child detention at the U.S./Mexican border.

Contrary to what many have said, this policy of familial separation and child detention is not based on law existing before the Trump administration. This “zero tolerance” policy was announced in April by this administration and could be revoked just as easily as it was implemented. But Capitol Ministries has influenced the thinking of a gullible President and an anti-immigrant administration with so-called biblical guidance justifying this cruelty. It may have been Stephen Miller’s idea, according to the New York Times, but Drollinger et. al have provided the “moral” justifications.

We have seen the influence of Capitol Ministries on everything from energy policy — stating we have a biblical duty to continue fossil fuels use — to anti-LGBT policy, but this is a whole new low. Enough is enough. It is time for Americans to stand up to the religious right and its radical fundamentalist evangelicals in defense of our secular constitutional democratic republic and the institutions, rights, and values that we hold dear.

Eric Engle