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White House slams pastor leading Cabinet Bible studies for linking homosexuality, coronavirus

The White House on Thursday condemned comments by a pastor who appeared to suggest that homosexuality helped cause the coronavirus pandemic.

Ralph Drollinger, who leads regular Bible study groups for top Trump administration officials, made the remarks in a blog post over the weekend, drawing rebukes from LGBTQ leaders and the White House.

“These comments are disgusting and certainly not something the President believes. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE has no higher priority than the health and safety of all Americans, and ensuring we emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement to The Hill on Thursday.

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“The President does not attend this ‘bible class’ and they are not held at the White House,” Deere added.

Drollinger's weekly study groups have reportedly been attended by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoArmenia and Azerbaijan say they will implement ceasefire agreement Monday Entire Nigerian police force mobilized after days of violent protests that have killed at least 69 Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' MORE, Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosHouse committee subpoenas Education Department staff over for-profit colleges DeVos says it isn't Department of Education's job to track schools' coronavirus reopening plans Judge calls Devos student loan forgiveness process 'disturbingly Kafkaesque' MORE and other Cabinet members.

In his blog post, Drollinger wrote that the U.S. was currently “experiencing the consequential wrath of God.” He then discussed what he viewed to be God's "forsaking wrath," or wrath of abandonment and "biblical descriptors that serve to help us recognize when this kind of wrath is present," one of which he said was “a sensation toward homosexuality.”

Drollinger wrote that he doesn't “believe America as a national entity, is presently subject to the forsaking wrath of God," while adding that “those individuals who are rebuked by God’s forsaking wrath are largely responsible for God’s consequential wrath on our nation.”

The blog post was met with swift criticism from LGBTQ groups, including from the president of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, who said Drollinger's “horrific assertions are ludicrous,” in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday.

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“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 said.

“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,” David added.

In a statement to NBC News on Wednesday, Drollinger pushed back on some of the criticism directed at his post, saying his comments had been misinterpreted. He also said that he does not believe “that homosexuality played any role whatsoever in the coronavirus.”

According to NBC, Drollinger has a history of making controversial remarks about homosexuality. The network cited a blog post he wrote in 2018 that said “reward[ing]” gay people “with the governmentally endowed privileges associated with marital status is to choose a path toward extinction.”