In a blog post titled “Is God Judging America Today?” a pastor who leads a weekly bible study group for members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet appeared to blame the coronavirus pandemic on several groups, including those who have “a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”
America “is experiencing the consequential wrath of God,” the Rev. Ralph Drollinger wrote in a lengthy March 21 "Bible study" on his Capitol Ministries blog, which caused outrage among several national LGBTQ advocacy groups.
In addition to gays and lesbians, Drollinger — who The New York Times recently referred to as the Trump Cabinet's “shadow diplomat” — also laid blame on people with “depraved minds,” environmentalists and those who deny the existence of God for igniting "God's wrath."
In an email sent to NBC News on Thursday, however, Drollinger said his coronavirus post was misinterpreted, adding that he does not "believe that homosexuality played any role whatsoever in the coronavirus."
He explained that when it comes to God, there are a "panoply of wraths." So while he believes homosexuality causes one type of God's wrath (wrath of abandonment), it's a different type than that which may have manifested in the coronavirus (sowing and reaping wrath).
White House spokesman Judd Deere called the implication that homosexuality caused the pandemic “disgusting” and “certainly not something the President believes.”
“President Trump has no higher priority than the health and safety of all Americans, and ensuring we emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before,” stated Deere, who said President Trump does not attend Drollinger’s Bible class.
Alphonso David, president of the national LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said “Drollinger’s horrific assertions are ludicrous” and said his “shameful views cannot be ignored.”
“LGBTQ people around the country and around the world are struggling to cope with this global pandemic. They are worried about their health, their livelihoods, and their families,” he wrote in a statement shared with NBC News. “At a moment where we need to pull together by recognizing our shared humanity and mutual dependence, there are some of low moral character who see it as an opportunity to continue to try to divide us.”
This is not the first time Drollinger has made offensive remarks about LGBTQ people. In just the past two years, Drollinger has written multiple blog posts about the dangers of homosexuality. In a 2018 post, “Understanding the Book of Leviticus Today,” for example, he compared same-sex relationships to a woman who “loves her cat” and predicted the embrace of gay marriage would be akin to choosing “a path toward extinction.”
Attendees at Drollinger's Wednesday morning Bible lessons, according to The Intercept, which was the first to report on Drollinger’s coronavirus remarks, include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, House and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Health Secretary Alex Azar, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
CORRECTION (March 25, 2020, 10 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated President Donald Trump’s role in Rev. Ralph Drollinger’s weekly Bible study group. Members of Trump’s Cabinet attend, not the president himself.