One person who is unambiguously thrilled with Donald Trump’s choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate is Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, the demon-hunting Religious Right activist who is currently serving out the end of his term as Republican member of Colorado’s state legislature.
Klingenschmitt’s activist career is grounded in his claim that he was fired from a post as a military chaplain because he prayed “in Jesus’ name.” In reality his lost the job because he violated military rules in appearing at a political event in uniform. When Klingenschmitt sued, a federal judge found that he had never been ordered not to pray in the name of Jesus and that along with defying orders by appearing in an official capacity at the political event he had been found to have an “unsatisfactory” job performance.
But those facts didn’t stop Klingenschmitt from sending out an email to his followers on Sunday recalling how Pence, when he was the head of the conservative Republican Study Committee in Congress, had met Klingenschmitt in a “divine appointment” in the halls of Congress and championed his cause.
Klingenschmitt credits Pence with spearheading a letter from a few dozen conservative members of Congress objecting to a Bush administration Pentagon policy that The Hill described at the time as calling for “nonsectarian prayers” after the emergence of “allegations that evangelical Christians wielded so much influence at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment had become pervasive.”
From Klingenschmitt’s email:
If you remember my story, you know in 2005 the U.S. Navy punished my chapel sermons in writing, then wrote a policy that banned praying “in Jesus’ name” which cost my career.
That year I walked the halls of Congress, meeting any Members who’d defend religious freedom for Chaplains. Friends told me “go see Mike Pence” the Congressman from Indiana who was then chairman of the powerful Republican Study Committee, composed of the 70 most conservative Congressmen.
So I went to Congressman Pence’s office. I had just missed him, but I glanced at his official photo to get a visual impression of his face, (something I never did otherwise), and a half-hour later I turned a hallway corner, and literally bumped into him. It was a divine appointment.
“You’re Mike Pence!” I said, immediately recognizing his face from the photo.
“Yes I am!” he smiled.
He was very attentive, and although he was on the way to another meeting Congressman Pence said to me, “walk with me and tell me your story.” We walked and talked for 10 minutes together.
I told Pence how 65 Chaplains were suing the Navy, all denied promotion for praying and preaching “in Jesus’ name.” I showed him documents how they punished me for quoting the Bible in chapel.
He looked me in the eye and said “OK, I get it. I’m with you 100%.”
Pence kept his word. The next week every member of his committee, all 70 members led by Mike Pence and Walter Jones, signed a letter to the President on my behalf, demanding he let Chaplains pray “in Jesus’ name.”
One year later Congress ordered the Navy to reverse their bad prayer policy and we won.
I know from personal experience, Mike Pence is a Christian, Conservative, Republican, as he freely admits “in that order” and I’ve seen him stand up for chaplains’ rights.