Capitol Ministries, a powerful American evangelical Christian group with a mission to “evangelize world political leaders,” has been a major player behind the controversial drive to relocate embassies in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The group, which has expanded its influence throughout Latin America and the world, uses its White House connections to advance policy initiatives that align with its literal interpretation of the Christian Bible.
This includes a hard-right spin on Biblical tenants that advocates for the death penalty, and against gay marriage and undocumented migration, according to a report by a consortium of news agencies.
Capitol Ministries organizes regular Bible studies programs in the White House, and the organization’s founder Ralph Drollinger is a “spiritual mentor” to both Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo. In total, nine members of the Trump cabinet are Capitol Ministries “sponsors.”
Both Trump administration officials advocated that Honduran President Juan Hernandez bring Capitol Ministries Bible studies into the Honduran government — similar to its existing ministry in the White House.
As a “Christian Zionist” organization, Capital Ministries has been an effective lobbyist on behalf of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial effort to centralize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Yet critics say the Zionism of Capitol Ministries is fixed on an apocalyptic reading of the Bible that envisions an “end of history” following military conflict in an Israel with Jerusalem as its capital, according to a Quartz report.
Capitol Ministries successfully lobbied to have Guatemala and the United States to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Honduras is opening a “diplomatic office” in the ancient city — and Brazil opened trade offices there as well.
In some places, such as Guatemala, the political payoff appears to be far from spiritual.
After Guatemala moved its embassy in Israel, the United States dropped its support for an international commission investigating corruption, human-rights abuses and electoral fraud in Guatemala.
A McClatchy News report quotes an anonymous “direct source” as stating that the “only reason” the U.S. dropped its support for the commission was because it was “so happy” with Guatemala’s embassy move.
Sources: Columbia Journalism Investigations, the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism, Quartz, McClatchy News, Reuters, Times of Israel