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Profile In Right-Wing Persecution: The Gordon Klingenschmitt Story

Long before winning a seat in the Colorado State House, Gordon Klingenschmitt became a right-wing martyr over his claim that he lost his position as a Navy chaplain for saying “Jesus” in his prayers. Klingenschmitt sued, launching the “Save Chaps” and “Pray In Jesus Name” campaigns, and he held up his purported firing as an example of anti-religious, anti-Christian hostility in government.

Klingenschmitt, however, lost his lawsuit, as a judge found that there was never an effort to “limit Dr. Klingenschmitt’s right to engage in any religious practices (including presenting an opening prayer at the event or invoking the name of Jesus in his prayer),” noting that he was appropriately disciplined for breaking well-established military rules which prohibit people from appearing at political events in full military garb.

But like other right-wing activists, Klingenschmitt never let this key detail get in the way of his narrative that he and other conservatives Christians in America are the victims of persecution.

So it is comes as no surprise that Klingesnchmitt is now creating yet another narrative about religious persecution in wake of recent comments he made about the gruesome attack on a pregnant Colorado woman. Klingenschmitt said on his “Pray In Jesus Name” televangelist program that the attack was the “curse of God upon America” for legalizing abortion: “part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.”

His remarks quickly incited an uproar, which Klingenschmitt hoped would die down after he made a donation to the woman’s recovery fund, regularly boasting about his contribution in media interviews. However, the woman’s family rejected his donation, and Democrats and Republicans alike condemned Klingenschmitt’s statements. He refused to apologize, insisting that he was only being criticized for “quoting the Bible in church” and standing up “against evil.”

He eventually offered an apology, but only after insisting that he was the victim of a media campaign to distort his remarks: “Klingenschmitt's apology in Monday's video comes after 23 minutes of recapping the tragedy and criticizing media reports about him. He accuses reporters of misquoting him and lying, and says the Gazette retracted its story, which is not true.”

Colorado House Republican Leader Brian DelGrosso yesterday decided to remove Klingenschmitt from the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, although he will remain on another committee dealing with local government as a “kind of disciplinary action.”

The move inspired Klingenschmitt to fall back on his earlier claim that he is facing persecution for just quoting the Bible: “I am literally being punished for quoting unpopular Bible verses in my Sunday church, or interpreting the Old Testament differently than Leader DelGrosso interprets it, during my private ministry outside the Capitol. Is that suddenly a crime?”

House Republican leaders weren’t the only ones to incite the wrath of Klingenschmitt, as he also accused Right Wing Watch of persecuting him by quoting excerpts from his television program verbatim, as part of his long career of portraying himself as a perpetual victim of discriminatory practices that only exist in his own mind.

Beck: People Who Are 'Actually' Religious Should Be Allowed To Discriminate

On his radio broadcast yesterday, Glenn Beck weighed in on the controversy surrounding Indiana's new law which grants business owners the right to discriminate in the name of "religious freedom," by defending the law ... so long as the business owner practicing the discrimination is actually religious.

Under Beck's scenario, businesses are not allowed to discriminate against anybody unless the owners can adequately prove to the government that they are really living their faith and not just engaging in rank bigotry.

"This is the key here," Beck said. "You actually have to be religious. You can't just be somebody like 'I hate them gays so I'm not going to do it.' No, tell me a little bit about your religion."

Beck said that members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), for instance, which recently voted to allow its pastors to preside over same-sex marriages, wouldn't be allowed to deny their services to a gay couple.

"Sorry dude, you're making a wedding cake because you say you belong to this church [and] they happen to agree with it," Beck said.

"Show me about how you're living your life in your church," he said. "If you're living your faith, well then I can't say anything about it since its your religious right. And gay people have to get over it. And anybody else who might be bigoted and you own a bakery — I don't want to sell anyone them cookies — well, dude, you have to and that's just the way it is. You need to get over it":

Suppose for a moment that Beck's standard was actually adopted and government officials were tasked with determining whether individual business owners are "living their faith" enough to qualify for this exemption and then just try to imagine the screams of outrage that would ring out from Beck and other Religious Right activists once the state started denying such exemptions because it had determined that the people in question just weren't religious enough.

After Being Stripped Of A Committee Assignment, Klingenschmitt Suspends His 'Pray In Jesus Name' Show

As we noted yesterday, after several days of controversy, Colorado state legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt finally apologized for having said last week that a brutal attack on a pregnant woman in the state was due to the "curse of God upon America" for legal abortion.

But it seems that his apology is not making the controversy go away, as yesterday the Republican leader in the Colorado House of Representatives stripped Klingenschmitt of one of his two committee assignments as punishment for his statement:

The leader of the House Republicans on Monday stripped Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt from one of his two committee posts, saying the lawmaker's "curse of God" comments about a woman whose fetus was ripped from her womb were in "poor taste" and "insensitive."

Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso said he removed Klingenschmitt from the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee because he believed "there needed to be some kind of disciplinary action."

"This is one of the few tools I have in my toolbox, and this seemed like the appropriate course of action," said DelGrosso, a Loveland Republican.

Klingenschmitt, of course, is not happy with the move and is complaining that he is being unfairly persecuted for quoting the Bible and being a Christian:

Now The Denver Post reports that because I quoted unpopular Bible verses from the pulpit in my Sunday ministry, the legislative branch of the Colorado government will remove me from a committee.

While I respect his position, I disagree with Leader Brian DelGrosso's decision, because it clearly establishes an unprecedented religious litmus test for which representatives can sit on what committees.

I was not driving drunk, I was not arrested by the police, I am literally being punished for quoting unpopular Bible verses in my Sunday church, or interpreting the Old Testament differently than Leader DelGrosso interprets it, during my private ministry outside the Capitol. Is that suddenly a crime?

This is not the first time that a branch of the government has reached into my chapel and punished me for my sermons. It also happened when I was a chaplain in the Navy in 2005. That unlawful punishment helped launch 300,000 petitions and I was eventually vindicated by Congress, because their voters demanded religious freedom. Will we?

Here in Colorado, officials can't claim we have freedom to preach, then levy government punishments for doing that. That endangers everybody's religious freedom.

The government is now forcing me to choose between obeying God on Sunday, and representing the people Monday through Friday. That's a hard choice. I want to do both, but party leaders are essentially saying I cannot.

But realizing that the comments he made on his television show have "begun to overshadow" his role as a state legislator, Klingenschmitt announced that he is suspending his ministry and TV program until the end of the state legislative session:

I therefore announce that I will suspend my Christian preaching ministry for the next six weeks, and I will take a Sabbatical from my television show until the end of this legislative session. We will air a few more new programs created this week, but starting next week we plan to only air TV re-runs until the end of the legislative session on May 7th.

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/30/15

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 3/30/15

  • Gov. Nikki Haley will be delivering a welcome message to David Lane's next "The Response" prayer rally in South Carolina in June.
  • Matt Barber says that he "has had the distinct honor of visiting" with Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz. That fact alone probably ought to disqualify each one of these men from ever becoming president.
  • Ben Carson says it is "absolutely vital" to defend Indiana's right-to-discriminate law.
  • Jennifer LeClaire warns that "a tsunami of perversion and all manner of wicked sin is headed toward this nation."
  • Don Boys declares that "the Bible can never mean what it was not written to mean and if the homosexual juggernaut continues then America will become Sodom with electric lights, television, cell phones, smog, and Interstates."
  • Joel C. Rosenberg cautions that "on top of all America's national challenges and sins, including 58 million abortions, we dare not also abandon or turn against Israel and the Jewish people. If we do, we will seal our fate and face the judgment of God."
  • Finally, Bryan Fischer spent a segment on his radio show today promoting the entirely baseless right-wing theory that Sen. Harry Reid's injuries were the result of him having been beaten up by the mafia.

Phyllis Schlafly: Democrats Plan To 'Jimmy The Next Election'

Drawing on the right-wing conspiracy theory that Democrats encourage non-citizens to illegally cast ballots in U.S. elections, Phyllis Schlalfy told American Family Radio today that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration are part of a larger plot to rig the vote.

The Eagle Forum founder told host Fred Jackson that the “purpose” of “Obama’s amnesty” is to help undocumented immigrants unlawfully vote: “They want to jimmy the next election by making these illegals grateful to the Democrats and able to vote, and that’s just really a change in our system that we don’t approve of. It isn’t fair, it isn’t honest, but once they have a driver’s license and a Social Security number, you can’t stop them from registering to vote.”

Fischer: Indiana Law Is An 'Anti-Discrimination Bill Because It Prohibits Governmental Discrimination Against Christians'

For years, Bryan Fischer has made his case that discrimination against gay people is entirely justified and necessary, so it is no surprise that he is a vocal supporter of the new Indiana law that grants business owners the right to discriminate against gays, among others, under the guise of protecting the free exercise of religion.

So passionate is Fischer's defense of the new law that he went so far as to declare on his radio program today that the law does actually not sanction discrimination against gays but merely protects Christians from discrimination.

"This law is not something that provides for discrimination against gays," he said. "It is something that prevents discrimination against Christians ... This thing is an anti-discrimination bill because it prohibits governmental discrimination against Christians in the state of Indiana."

Fischer went on to declare that gay rights activists are seeking to utterly destroy religious freedom in America, saying that outrage over the law is entirely about "homosexual supremacy."

"Homosexual activists want special rights for homosexuals to trump every other single right that any American possess anywhere, at any time, in any place," he said.

So a law passed in order to give religious business owners a special legal right to discriminate against gay customers is, in Fischer's warped worldview, really an anti-discrimination bill need to protect Christian business owners from having to give gay customers "special rights" by treating them equally:

Alan Keyes: Obama Is America's 'First Islamic President'

Alan Keyes, the conservative activist who ran against President Obama in the 2004 U.S. Senate election in Illinois, took to “The Steve Malzberg Show” today to discuss the Iranian nuclear program negotiations taking place in Switzerland.

After Malzberg asked Keyes about Secretary of State John Kerry’s use of the phrase “inshallah,” an Arabic phrase for “God willing” used by Muslims and Christians alike, Keyes said that Obama administration officials have “a commitment not only to Islam and forces in Islam that have been deeply inimical to the United States but they have a particular commitment to one of the most active governmental forces that has been sponsoring terrorism against the United States and organizations that target the United States.”

Keyes, who once called Obama a Muslim, added that there was “a certain dishonesty about the way that this man ran for office: Who knew that he was going to be the first Islamic president? This was not even allowed to become a focus of any interest because he lied about it and is still lying.”

Klingenschmitt Apologizes: 'Everything I Did About That Report Was Wrong'

For several days last week, Colorado state legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt found himself under attack for comments that he made on his "Pray In Jesus Name" program when he said that a brutal attack on a pregnant woman in the state was due to the "curse of God upon America" for legal abortion.

Initially, Klingenschmitt steadfastly refused to apologize for his comments, saying that anyone who disagrees with him really has a problem with him quoting from the Bible. But he appears to have had a change of heart over the weekend because today he released a half-hour video in which he sincerely apologized for his comments and asked for forgiveness.

While most of the video consisted of Klingenschmitt taking issue with specific reporters and others who, he felt, had intentionally misrepresented his initial comments, he capped off the video by issuing a heartfelt apology, saying that he was angry about the attack when he first reported on it last week, which caused him to speak insensitively and offensively about it.

"I do want to apologize for my words last week," Klingenschmitt said, "because I was so angry that I forgot to be compassionate. My words were not compassionate and therefore I apologize. My tone was wrong. My choice of words was wrong. My choice of scripture was wrong. Everything I did about that report was wrong and honestly I apologize to you, Dan and Michelle Wilkins; I apologize to you, the viewers; I apologize to the voters and constituents of Colorado Springs and anybody out there who actually did hear accurate reporting and was offended by my insensitive words, I apologize to you":

Indiana Activist: Don't Clarify That 'Religious Freedom' Law Won't Allow Discrimination

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been appearing all over the media in the last few days to insist, erroneously, that Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is no different from other similarly-named laws in other states and will not effectively legalize discrimination.

According to reports, Pence and others may push for the legislature to clarify that the law does not sanction discriminatory practices.

However, Micah Clark of the American Family Association’s Indiana chapter, who stood right behind Pence, along with several other Religious Right leaders, when he signed the bill into law and has quite a record of anti-gay activism, said today that he opposes any such clarification.

He told AFA President Tim Wildmon today that conservatives should call Pence and other state officials and demand that they oppose any effort to clarify that the law does not legalize discrimination: That could totally destroy this bill.(In Georgia, supporters of a similar bill also opposed a push to ensure that the legislation will not permit discrimination in business.) 

Wildmon agreed, adding that the Indiana law is necessary to protect anti-gay business owners from “persecution.” The law’s critics, Wildmon claimed, are waging “spiritual warfare” against state officials.