News

Cabinet members study Bible together weekly

President Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(USA Today) — Members of President Trump’s Cabinet attend a weekly Bible study, according to a new report.

CBN News reported that once a week, about a dozen members of the Cabinet gather to study Scripture. Among those who regularly attend: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“It’s the best Bible study that I’ve ever taught in my life,” Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “They are so teachable, they’re so noble, they’re so learned.”

According to Capitol Ministries’ website, the sponsors of the White House ministry include the regular attendees, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“Mike Pence has respect for the office,” Drollinger told CBN News. “He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh.”

Pence plans to join the study as his schedule permits. Additionally, President Trump is invited to the weekly studies and receives Drollinger’s teachings.

Drollinger founded Capitol Ministries in 1996. Since then, he has started Bible studies in state and foreign capitals and does weekly studies with members of both the U.S. House and the Senate.

“Making disciples of Jesus Christ in the political arena in the United States of America and in foreign capitols around the world has been the mission of Capitol Ministries from our beginning,” the site reads. “Like Paul, we are following God’s command to reach the leaders of our troubled world — for only through obedience to God is true hope and change possible.”

Drollinger told CBN News that Sessions applies what he learns at Bible study to his job.

“He’ll go out the same day I teach him something and I’ll see him do it on camera and I just think, ‘Wow, these guys are faithful, available and teachable, and they’re at Bible study every week they’re in town,'” he said.

 (Jessica Estepa writes for USA Today)

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

81 Comments

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  • “Among those who regularly attend: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

    You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy
    -Ben Kenobi

  • It is a question of what they are being taught. If challenging at all, each one of them should be challenged on their policies and direction – energy, climate change, excluding people, their hate of government as a means of helping humanity (not corporations), the value of learning rather than controlling minds, promoting the general welfare (not corporate welfare). Somehow I think that rather than scriptures speaking and addressing them, they are to busy seeking answers which suit their opinions. No doubt there is a lot of religious navel gazing. Being intelligent does not mean you are open to God – history teaches us that. Consider an administration that refuses to take facts and studies seriously letting prejudices dictate the outcome. Perhaps they also need to hear from rabbis and pastors/priests across the spectrum, as well as learn about the Qoran and hear from humanists. Of course if they believe all the answers are in the bible in a world which is black and white then it is hopeless. They are looking for certitude in this world not faith, and the scary thing is they do not know the difference.

  • I take it as malicious reprehensible dishonest people trying to convince themselves and the public they are good people. Mendacious shows of piety are useful for that.

    It’s also safe to say CBN has officially become the propaganda arm of the Trump Administration. Pat Robertson was already an immoral opportunistic sleaze before the election. He found his niche afterwards.

  • You’d probably appreciate this. It’s apropos to your comment.

    today, Senator Flake has admitted that the Trumpen disaster is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, created, aided, and abetted by them. He’s truly sorry…”with hindsight.”

    It’s the republican equivalent of asking Jesus for forgiveNess.

  • “He’ll go out the same day I teach him something and I’ll see him do it on camera and I just think, ‘Wow, these guys are faithful, available and teachable, and they’re at Bible study every week they’re in town,’” he said.

    A Trump cabinet member attending a weekly Bible study, then going forth the same day to immediately put what he learned into practice?

    I’m all for it!

  • To be sure. They might well profit in their souls if the take Jesus’s advice: ” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mat 9:12-13

    And his warning: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
    On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ Mat 7:21-23

    Having conducted many a Bible study I recognize that too many simply want to confirm their prejudices, seek righteousness (an equitable relationship) with God but not with humans (which is impossible), or simply “know” what the Bible says about such and such so they can go out and inflict it on others catalytically.

  • So what if we start seeing policies that (just 2 examples of the biblical mandate):

    1. Feed the hungry… don’t just enact policies that create more hunger

    2. Heal the sick … improve access to affordable health care. (Stop saying “health care reform;” it confuses the real need with a plan to undermine access)

    What are they studying in this Bible study?

  • Separation of church and state anyone? Also, the way they study the bible–somewhat literalist/evangelical–is troubling.

  • He helped Mobutu rape the economy of Zaire in return for mining and timber concessions. He made sure the Reagan/Bush team kept the aid coming.

  • … do you think they ever look at this passage?

    ““Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough, you’ve let the wicked get away with murder. You’re here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break; Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them.”” (Psalm 82:2–4, The Message)

  • http://www.jewsonfirst.org/07b/capitol_ministries.html

    “The growing roster of states is worth noting because of Capitol Ministries’ extremism.

    The group’s leader, Ralph Drollinger, is so extreme that the Los Angeles Daily News
    reported this month without qualification that he “has a long record of
    bashing Catholics, gays and mothers of young children who serve in the
    state Legislature.”

  • Except for Matthew 25:31 and the verses that follow. These guys don’t follow the gospels that closely.

  • Something something jesus something something be not like the hypocrites something something praying in public something something.

  • I have little objection to this as far as it goes. The boss seems supremely uninterested, so it’s not like Secys. Shulkin or Mnuchin are going to feel pressured into attending (when it was revealed that George W. Bush’s first attorney general John Ashcroft held a bible study in his office, it was said that staff members might feel compelled, but several Jewish staffers came forward to say it was actually pretty ecumenical). It’s a group of people who are already evangelicals studying an evangelical viewpoint of the Bible.

  • It’s called bible “study”, but I suspect that if you are studying some particular verse and you advance an understanding of that verse that’s not “religiously correct”–that is, not in line with evangelical understanding of the verse– you’re gonna be in big trouble.

  • The latter, of course.

    As best as I can see, there is a widespread assumption in the US (and maybe other countries) that “all [or most?] people love democracy [i.e. the liberties we enjoy]. But I think that is a wholly unwarranted assumption–it is clear that lots of people understand democracy (libertiy) very well–and hate the whole idea.

  • Not impressed with learning Christian scriptures only, gents. Do that on your own time or open it to Hebrew and Muslim scriptures because you miss the point entirely if you don’t have all perspectives.

  • This is Outragious. The Founding Fathers gave Freedom of Religion to curb their power nd destructiveness and Stupid in the Whit house is going to allow Fundamentalists to take us back to the dark ages Rev. DKP

  • American Evangelical Fundamentalists believe they are acting to feed the hungry in this way: They believe that men (yes, men) have three spheres of authority on earth: the family, the ecclesial, and the government. It is the duty of the family to provide for its members. When the family fails to provide, then it is the duty of the ecclesial to provide, and not the government. When the government provides it is usurping the family and the ecclesial, destroying the natural order created by God, and rendering unto Caesar the things that are God’s ,and that any government assistance to the poor or middle class is therefore idolatrous. Government favors for corporations and the rich are OK because they are allegedly “job creators,” givers, not takers. That’s why you can’t argue Scripture or the words of Jesus with them.

  • They certainly took some advice from there:

    “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out.”
    -Hitler on propaganda (Mein Kampf)

    Make Germania… I mean… America Great Again!

  • As soon as I saw the title I knew that the usual suspects would take time to express their scorn and outrage. Whether these confabs will produce anything worthwhile to the governance of our nation is a matter of speculation at this point, but the joining of like minds in a mutually affirming exercise is not automatically a bad thing. Naturally, from a political perspective apart from religion, the values of the cabinet members engaged in this practice are at variance with most of the commentators here, but again that doesn’t rise to the level of any kind of unconstitutional behavior. If the Left would spend as much time practicing the philosophy of live and let live that they so profess, it might engender a like response in others.

  • “By their fruits you will know them” said the Saviour in his Gospel and man what “fruits” these brood of vipers, these whitened sepulchres produce. Worship of the Golden Calf, places profit above person despite Jesus plain words that “you cannot serve God and wealth”, belief in a white nationalism which is completely contrary to teachings of Jesus, belief and practice of the subjugation of women again also contrary to the Gospel and this is just for starters! Bible study? what an insult to both words!

  • I’d rather they all attended a weekly study class on the US Constitution, which is the legal document governing our nation (unlike the Bible).

  • Yes that is how they rationalize indifference to the poor.

    The big mistake is how they see welfare. Social services are not charity. Social services meet a societal need and act “revolution insurance”. Starvation, homelessness and people not receiving healthcare create public hazards that affect everyone. Not just the destitute. They are corrosive to our system and public order. We don’t want to end up rolling senators and CEO’s in tumbrils down town squares.
    http://www.twodoctors.org/myimages/tumbril.jpg

    Evidently Ayn Rand has also suddenly become an author of the Bible to them. 🙂

  • …Do not be like the hypocrites who pray loudly for all to hear them….when you must pray, go to your room and shut the door.

  • I really don’t see any reason why people are fuming over some cabinet members gathering to study Bible. The left doesn’t feel comfortable when the word of God is mentioned.
    The founding fathers of this nation mentioned God, sought His intervention and God has saved the nation. I remembered reading material credited to Abraham Lincoln making quotations from the scripture.
    It must be mentioned that some of the cabinet members came on their own, they don’t coarse employees under them to attend.
    Imperfect as we judge them to be, they gather to seek God and pray together. We that condemn them, we that feel we are too pure, don’t have time to gather and seek God’s words are losers. The left would favor the White House filled with atheists and deviants.

  • I know. I was trying to be vague and general in keeping with the spirit of doing something I don’t want to do,

  • Nancy Reagan had regular Tarot readings done for the President and herself. Obviously, the Tarot cards were more effective, given the constant chaos in this current White House.

  • While some of my fellow religiously conservative Christians might find their Bible study as validating the policies they promote and thus refuse to listen to criticisms of those polices, it’s really the other way around. Our actions reveal more about how we study the Bible. And thus it’s in their policies that their Bible Study is found wanting.

  • Lol! I scrolled down through the comments and thought: Boy these folks would complain if they were being hanged with a new rope.

  • I don’t care about the Bible studies. The President is free to associate, study and pray with whomever he choses. If they already pray together what does more matter? Their influence is well known. This is one of those sit back and see how things unfold moment. They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind!

  • Politicians are dirty-hearted people. Gospel cannopt rest in their hearts but of the common man.
    GOSPEL IS CALLED “LOGO”
    AND LOGO IS THE EXTRACT/NECTAR OF “LOGICAL REASONING”.

    ONCE-BORN PEOPLE ARE INCAPABLE OF LOGICAL REASONING AND, THEREFORE, LOGO IS FOR THE TWICE-BORN PEOPLE OF DISCERNING INTELLECT CALLED THE “HOLY SPIRIT”, SURTTI OR “COMMON SENSE”.
    SO, IF YOU WANT GOSPEL, THEN YOU MUST THINK LOGICALLY OVER YOUR OWN HEART. THUS, LISTEN TO EVERYONE AND PONDER OVER IT IN YOUR OWN HEART. THEN, GOSPEL WOULD BE WRITTEN OVER THE LIVING TABLETS OF HEART – 2CORN 3.
    SCRIPTURES, THE DEAD LETTERS ARE “DEADLY POISON” TO GOSPEL.
    SCRIPTURES, THE “DEAD LETTERS” THAT THE ONCE-BORN PEOPLE ARE TAUGHT IN THE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES. THEY ARE “OLD WINES” OR “MILK FOR THE BABIES”. THIS IS THE JEWISH LEAVEN FORBIDDEN BY CHRIST JESUS.
    TWICE-BORN PEOPLE OF “DISCERNING INTELLECT” LIKE THE “BIRDS OF THE AIR” ARE CAPABLE OF “LOGICAL REASONING” TO BREW THE “NEW WINE” WITHIN THEIR OWN HEART. FOR THIS YOU NEED TO BE “IMPARTIAL” LIKE THE LITTLE CHILDREN.
    THUS, YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO A UNIVERSITY TO KNOW GOSPEL BUT A HEART BURNING FOR “GOSPEL TREASURES”.
    UNIVERSITY DEGREES IN “DEAD LETTERS” WILL TURN YOU INTO A SUPER DONKEY CARRYING “HOLY BOOKS”.

  • I have some suspicion of the content of the study, and frankly usually find myself on the other side of the political aisle from these folk. That said, I’m not sure where I see the “separation of church and state”. We say we will have no religious test for public office and no state religion, and those two specific items are the basis for our religious freedom. The “separation of church and state” phrase comes from a private letter from Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptist pastors, and the context actually is assuring those pastors their religious freedom vis-à-vis the state. While I don’t know who these “Capitol Ministries” people are, and have real problems with how it is that many evangelical Christians have been involved in politics, I don’t know that this crosses the line as a “separation of church and state” concern–and think many people misunderstand that concept anyway.

    I can’t criticize people for not operating on Christian social concerns and criticize their participating in a Bible study at the same time–not without knowing more about that Bible study.

  • And these are the very same people who are out to destroy our Earth and the life forms on it all of which are God’s creation to satisfy their greed and lust for money. What hypocrites!

  • LOL! Indeed. So government officials have private lives and some engage in religious studies and activities together on their own time. And this is news?

  • Just a suggestion for our resident haters: You are free to initiate your OWN group Bible Study, and invite any liberal or conservative politicians (or ordinary people, for that matter) to attend it.

    Plenty of good territory to work, (when is the LAST time you even read an article about politicians having a Bible Study?), and your competition will be few and far between.

    So put all that good hatred to work, folks. Initiate your own Bible Study for politicians and government folks, and show these no-good evangelicals how it’s done!!

  • I’d be willing to BET that they LOVE teaching of BAD NEWS Paul, such as

    [ II Thessalonians 3: 6–12 : ]

    ” Now here is a command, dear brothers, given in the
    name of our Lord Jesus Christ by his authority: Stay away from any
    Christian who spends his days in laziness and does not follow the ideal
    of hard work we set up for you. For you well know that you ought to
    follow our example: you never saw us loafing; we never accepted food
    from anyone without buying it; we worked hard day and night for the
    money we needed to live on, in order that we would not be a burden to
    any of you. It wasn’t that we didn’t have the right to ask you to feed
    us, but we wanted to show you firsthand how you should work for your
    living. Even while we were still there with you, we gave you this rule:
    “He who does not work shall not eat.” Yet we hear that some of you are
    living in laziness, refusing to work, and wasting your time in
    gossiping. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we appeal to such
    people – we command them – to quiet down, get to work, and earn their
    own living.”

    ( to be fair to Paul, he was clearly writing only about people who are too lazy to work for their living, not about people who cannot find gainful employment, for whatever reason, or who find it unjust to be required to “work for peanuts”, which is simply one small step above slavery.) But Conservatives often use Paul’s words as though unemployed people should not be given food to eat, regardless of the
    reasons they are not profitably employed. And if God inspired those words of Paul. I would think that he would have anticipated that these words would have been thus misused!

    [ I Timothy 5: 3–12 ]

    “Honor widows who are really widows. If a widow has
    children or grandchildren, they (these children) should first learn
    their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to
    their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left
    alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and
    prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even
    while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above
    reproach.
    And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family
    members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Let a
    widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has
    been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works,
    as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the
    saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in
    every way. But refuse to put younger widows on the list; for when their
    sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry, and so
    they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge.”

    See much MORE at http://JesusWouldBeFurious.org/AboutBadNewsPaul.html

  • I would not be surprised if they are also “studying” Ayn Rand’s philosophy, the atheist introduced to the R party by Reagan. She is also required reading for anyone working for Paul Ryan.

  • It’s like this:
    “Did you hear those gummit o’fficials are a’ studyin’ th’ Bible?”
    “Well, I swan… No I did not know that!” T’ain’t that agin’ th’ constitution or sumpin’?”
    “Course it is! Separation of church and state.”
    “What’ll we do ’bout it?”
    “Well I don’t know ’bout you, but I know what I’m a’ gowin’ to do ’bout it.”
    What’s that?
    “I’m a gowin t’ belly ache on RNS. That’ll show ’em.”
    “Yup…that’ll show’em fur sure! We danged sure don’t want our gummit o’fficials actin’ like Jesus!”

  • I hate to be the one to break this startling news, but… there are Bible studies going on all over this country, some even as we speak! But wait, it gets worse… some of the participants are even … public servants!

    This has been a special bulletin from the Emergency Broadcast System. We now return you to your regularly scheduled liberal bellyaching already in progress.

  • What I find really surprising is the number of people who have failed to note that both the US Senate and House of Representatives have elected chaplains. Among their duties is to provide religious studies. So there is an internal process in place to provide for the spiritual needs of elected members. There is also a process that permits bringing in an outsider under the sponsorship of an individual elected member. So then what is new? Perhaps the grandstanding of Drolinger and Capitol Ministries? I worry that not only will this leave a bad taste in many Christians mouths, do a disservice to a broader public understanding of he Gospel but also discourage the recognition by these elected members that many many Christians do not share perspectives that are espoused by Drolinger on government policy issues.

  • “Bible studies?”
    “Nationwide?”
    “NOOOOOooooooo!!!!”
    “And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse.”
    “What’ll we dooooo?”
    “Gimme another barley pop. That always helps me think.”

  • it figures that trump has a bunch of morons, that could not retain comprehension of what they read the first time
    For example: biblically, see ezek 22, read the whole chapter……………. “we the people’ have been supporting the wrong side the whole time

  • try a real quote: 20 Then did he charge his disciples that they may say to no one that he is Jesus the Christ.
    Put that on the dollar bill!

  • what great commission? Is that the church of petee…?

    and he having turned, said to Peter, `Get thee behind me, adversary! thou art a stumbling-block to me, for thou dost not mind the things of God, but the things of men.’

  • “””20 teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you”””””””

    is this charge to be retained?

    he charge his disciples that they may say to no one that he is Jesus the Christ.

    and anyone breaking that rule? what’s the penalty? should they be treated like Palestinians?

  • They need evangelical support, so they pander.

    Any politician who panders to/promotes fundamentalist notions, should be regularly questioned regarding theology/reality.

  • as American’s we are not so cruel but I sure would love to see their children educate them that false witness of the truth is wrong.

  • Quoted: “… they’re so learned.” 

    “Learned,” are they? Really!? That may be the funniest thing I’ve read this week. 

  • Along with you, I am prepared to watch and wait, nor would I hesitate to express an admonitory thought if and when a line was crossed.

  • Re: “As soon as I saw the title I knew that the usual suspects would take time to express their scorn and outrage.” 

    I know. Terrible, isn’t it? I mean … how dare “the usual suspects” criticize these noble and learned — as well as pious — people! Don’t they realize, it’s their God-ordained duty as Americans to slaver and fawn over them? To congratulate them on their every move and praise them endlessly? 

    </sarcasm> 

    Re: “Whether these confabs will produce anything worthwhile to the governance of our nation is a matter of speculation at this point …” 

    The better “speculation” here, would be to wonder what their Jesus would think of all this. You remember him, I hope. He was the one who taught his followers not to present their piety in public: 

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Mt 6:1-6, NASB) 

    When these Cabinet members let everyone know they attend these Bible studies, they violated Jesus’ injunction against public piety. When Drollinger trumpeted it to the media, and made clear he was the one who arranged it all, he too violated Jesus’ injunction against public piety. 

    What part of “close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret” do they — and you — not understand? Exactly how was this not made crystal-clear by the founder of your own religion, according to the gospels supposedly written by your own co-religionists, which these Cabinet members claim to study and which is supposedly venerated by their religion? 

  • Re: “What I find really surprising is the number of people who have failed to note that both the US Senate and House of Representatives have elected chaplains. Among their duties is to provide religious studies.” 

    What I find surprising is the number of people who are unaware that James Madison, the man who wrote the First Amendment (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights and much of the Constitution) declared without reservation that Congressional chaplains were improper, and (yes!) unconstitutional (spellings as written): 

    “Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation. The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority.” 

    Read it for yourself: http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions64.html

  • Your reply is overwrought, and context is important when quoting Jesus. I can’t speak to the “trumpeting” of Drollinger, he doesn’t quite sound like my cup of tea. Given the pernicious practice of leaking in Washington, it can not be stated with certainty that these cabinet members sought to have their prayer practices revealed. At the same time Jesus’ admonition was not an all encompassing stricture, He was addressing a practice closely linked with a specific attitude of heart. Public prayer was a historically common practice among the Israelites; it is less the public prayer that Christ was pointing to, but rather the false and self-righteous public piety of the Pharisaical class. Sincere and genuine prayer regardless of the contextual setting is not prohibited, but the humility and practice of private prayer is certainly to be lauded.

  • I agree but challenges have not been successful – perhaps mitigated by the electoral process but also the responsibility of the office(s) to bring in guest chaplains as required – presumably for people holding different faith backgrounds.

  • Re: “Your reply is overwrought …” 

    “Overwrought”? That’s a new objection. 

    Re: “… and context is important when quoting Jesus.” 

    I agree. But we’re dealing with a comment here. It’s not reasonable for me to quote the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount (of which Mt 6:1-6 is a small part). Would you have preferred me to do that? 

    Re: “I can’t speak to the ‘trumpeting’ of Drollinger, he doesn’t quite sound like my cup of tea.” 

    I can speak to his “trumpeting,” and did so. He may not be your “cup of tea,” but at the very least you might have said his public piety was wrong. Yet you didn’t. Why is that? Is it because he’s your fellow Christian and you refuse to critique him on that basis? 

    If so, you certainly wouldn’t be alone. A lot of Christians get away with an awful lot of stuff, because their co-religionists won’t hold them accountable … because to do so might reflect badly on their religion, and they can’t allow that. 

    Re: “At the same time Jesus’ admonition was not an all encompassing stricture …” 

    Actually … yes, it was “an all encompassing stricture.” Absolutely! Jesus gave a very clear, and general, instruction. He proceeded to clarify it with both positive and negative examples. He did not include any caveats or exceptions. I broke it all down — and in context! — in a page on my blog: https://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/whats-wrong-with-public-piety/ 

    Re: “… He was addressing a practice closely linked with a specific attitude of heart.” 

    Incorrect. The “specific attitude” you’re referring to … i.e. the desire to be seen as pious by others … is one he addressed, but not in the way you think. What he told his followers was: Never express your piety publicly; that way, you’ll never run the risk of indulging a wish to be seen by the public as pious. 

    It’s really very simple, and very clever. It’s also crystal-clear. 

    Re: “Public prayer was a historically common practice among the Israelites …” 

    It is these days, too … but Jesus did not restrict his comments only to “prayer.” He also cited fasting and the giving of alms, and all three of those were merely examples of “practicing righteousness in front of men.” As such, he forbid all forms of public piety. All of them. All the time. Everywhere. Under all conditions. 

    Re: “… it is less the public prayer that Christ was pointing to, but rather the false and self-righteous public piety of the Pharisaical class.” 

    I could comment about “the false and self-righteous public piety of the Religious Right” but will not. 

    Re: “Sincere and genuine prayer regardless of the contextual setting is not prohibited …” 

    Yes, it is. Jesus’ instruction is unambiguous, and is general: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them.” The rest of his instruction in this regard is, as I said, a list of negative and positive examples. 

    Re: “… but the humility and practice of private prayer is certainly to be lauded.” 

    Gee, how nice of you to agree with your own Jesus! Now, if you just could get yourself, and your co-religionists, to actually live up to “the humility and practice of private prayer,” for once, instead of shoving their piety in everyone’s faces all the time. 

    Look, I get it. Really. I do. Honest! I’m not stupid. I completely understand. These folks want to be seen as righteous Christians … because after all, what good is it even to be a Christian in the first place, if not to run around making sure everyone else knows it? 

  • I have to disagree largely with your analysis, as do many more competent theologians than I, and am prepared to leave it at that.

  • You and a bunch of theologians disagree with me? Have you any idea how little I really care about that? Why should I care whether you, or theologians, or anyone else “agree” with me? I’m right … and more to the point, I know I’m right. 

    At least, neither you nor they have deigned to refute — logically — anything I said. I will assume you’re unable to refute me, since you declared you will “leave it at that.” 

    Which I’m quite fine with. I’m happy to know that I understand your own sacred scripture better than you do. 

  • Suit yourself, your tendency to overwrought expression exemplifies itself again. You cannot even accept a gracious offer to disengage from a debate amicably, which says more about you than those who disagree with you. I’m quite prepared to await God’s appraisal of my position. As one made in His image, are you?

  • Re: “Suit yourself, your tendency to overwrought expression exemplifies itself again. “ 

    Again with your “overwrought” whine. Is that all you’ve got? Can it really be true that neither you, nor your legion of theologians, can actually refute what I said? Waaah wah waah, little baby. 

    Re: “You cannot even accept a gracious offer to disengage from a debate amicably …” 

    There’s nothing “amicable” about telling me that you — and an army of theologians — disagree, but walking away without explaining what’s wrong with what I said. It’s actually juvenile … sort of like taking your ball and going home because you’re losing the game. I have little patience for infantile stunts like that. 

    Re: “I’m quite prepared to await God’s appraisal of my position.” 

    Bully for you! If the Jesus of the gospels actually existed, though, you might feel differently, when — at the End of Time — he says to you what he promised to say to many, in Matthew 7:21-23. As for me, I know I understand your own gospels better than you, or your theologians, do. And I know it, because none of you can refute a single word I said. 

    Re: “As one made in His image, are you?” 

    I’m not made in the image of any deity. At least, I have no reason to think so, since as an agnostic there’s no way I can know whether or not there’s any deity at all. If you wish me to believe differently, then you’ll need to convince me that your deity exists — and that will require compelling, objective, and verifiable evidence on your part; then, you’ll have to demonstrate that s/he created me, and then that s/he created me in his/her image. 

    I invite you to provide all that. I don’t expect you’ll have the courage to try it, but I welcome any attempt you might make along these lines. 

  • Let me phrase this carefully. I will not engage you further on this thread. Not because you have demonstrated a superior argument, grasp of scripture, or cogent rational case to prove your position, nor have you truly answered any of my objections to your assertions but because your anger and disdain for the things of God make you unamenable to civil discourse. In fact, I feel genuinely sorry for you, however if I have used any vain and objectively pejorative language towards you in this conversation, I can only ask for your forgiveness and forebearance. Beyond that, I have nothing more to say.

  • Re: “Let me phrase this carefully. I will not engage you further on this thread.” 

    Good. Run away, then. Sayonara. 

    Re: “Not because you have demonstrated a superior argument, grasp of scripture, or cogent rational case to prove your position, nor have you truly answered any of my objections to your assertions but because your anger and disdain for the things of God make you unamenable to civil discourse.” 

    Wow. This is just one run-on sentence, but it’s loaded with distortions and lies. I have, in fact, presented “a superior argument” to yours, because you haven’t offered one! You just told me you and your army of theologians disagree … which is not an argument at all. I never “answered any of your objections,” because you offered nothing worthy of any response. You keep calling me “angry,” and now assert that I have “disdain for the things of God,” but those are subjective determinations on your part, intended solely to disparage me personally — because you can’t, or won’t, refute anything I said. As for “unamenable to civil discourse,” you are the sniveling little crybaby who refuses to refute me and is running away from me rather than trying to have a discussion. 

    You, sir, are completely full of it, and I can demonstrate it: You said a legion of your theologians disagreed with me. Let’s assume for the moment this is true; in that case, you’d know this because you’ve read what those theologians said and knew they could refute me. In that case, it’d have been trivial for you to quote them and provide their refutation(s). 

    But you didn’t do that. Not at all! You just simpered and whined about my insolence and would only say that you and your theologians disagreed. But, you didn’t tell me what those theologians said. That can mean only one thing: That nothing your theologians had to say constituted a refutation of me! Instead of being mature enough to say, “I disagree with you, but can’t prove you wrong,” you played a silly form of the infantile game of taking your ball and running home with it because you’re losing. 

    Well, you lost. But you don’t know it. And you’re not man enough to admit it. That’s fine with me. You just proved your mettle, and lived down to all my expectations of fundagelical Christians. You, sir, are a sterling example of why I am proud to say I’m an ex-fundagelical, an apostate, and a committed non-believer. 

    As I said … sayonara. Have a nice life … or not. I really don’t care what happens to you. You’ve already proven yourself insipid and irrelevant, so who cares? 

  • Bible study for the nation’s leaders? It should make sure these great verses are revealed and encouraged to be practiced towards all —

    1. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way…..Romans 14:13

    2. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God…..Romans 15:7

    3. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love….Ephesians 4:2

    4. …all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble….1 Peter 3:8

    5. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…..Philippians 2:3

    6. Be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone…..Titus 3:2

    7. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…..Luke 6:37

    8. ABOVE ALL, LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY, because love covers over a multitude of sins….1 Peter 4:8

    9. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men…..Philippians 4:5

    10. Don’t seek your own good, but the good of others…….. 1 Corinthians 10:24

    11. Follow after the things that make for peace……Romans 14:19

    12. In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets………Matthew 7:12

    13. Do to others as you would have them do to you………Luke 6:31

    14. Honor everyone……….1 Peter 2:17

    15. Continue to love each other……….Hebrews 13:1

    16. Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other……Romans 12:10

    We should keep this in mind —
    Faith without works (items 1-16 above as examples) is DOA………………..James 2:26
    If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?………..Matthew 5:46

  • Can you tell me where in “Scripture or the words of Jesus” there is moral justification for taking money from some people under threat of force, and redistributing it to others? The only legitimate role of government that I can find in the Bible is in Romans 13, in which it is stated that the government’s job is to administer justice.

    The fundamental moral issue is this: violence against people who have not already committed violence against others is morally reprehensible. That is why the only legitimate function of government is to administer justice in the event that persons violate others. Other government programs such as welfare represent the unjustifiably forced takeover of another person’s property, which is morally evil.

    Clearly, the morally superior course of action is to allow churches and charitable organizations to take care of the poor. It seems to me that God prefers giving out of the kindness of one’s heart to giving out of forced socialism.

  • The Bible is a compendium of fire side tales and fables,
    recounted orally for generations by goat herders and primitive tribes from the stone age,
    until writing was invented,
    and then again many different sources, transliterations, and versions were copied and written down.
    There were no grand central universities to organise the many various versions of these origin/creation stories, stories common to most primitive cultures.
    They were for entertainment (as in all migratory camp tribes),
    and to answer the questions of the many fears and mysteries of our universe, like ‘thunder’ and earthquakes, since there was no science yet.

    This is the old Testament.

    The ‘new’ Testes is also hearsay since these letters, ‘gospels’ and stories were written by the loyal faithful, the camp followers,
    not by objective historians at that particular time,
    or by any contemporary writers,
    and these tales were written many years after the supposed events of this mythical Jesus.

    Thus, there is no verifiable evidence of a Jesus in real documented history.

    Then, many of these stories, but not all, were compiled for one self-absorbed converted Roman Emperor in his Nicean Council, for his expressed purpose of conquest and control of the people of Europe for his Holy Roman Empire.
    He recognised that this was the perfect religion/mythology for the future domination of the populaces.
    Half of the stories were ignored by the Nicean Bishops and none have been proven to be based on fact.

    This ‘Bable’ book is backed up by absolutely no facts and no evidence.
    It is not proof for any gods….(or of any jesus…)

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