Gordon Klingenschmitt

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Gordon Klingenschmitt
H-Klingenschmitt.jpg
Member of the Colorado House of Representatives
from the 15th district
In office
January 2015 – January 11, 2017
Preceded by Mark Waller
Succeeded by Dave Williams
Personal details
Born Gordon James Klingenschmitt
(1968-06-05) June 5, 1968 (age 50)
Political party Republican
Alma mater United States Air Force Academy
Regent University
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
United States Navy
Rank Lieutenant

Gordon James Klingenschmitt (born June 5, 1968) is an American evangelical activist, former American Navy military chaplain and elected official. A Republican, he served one term in the Colorado House of Representatives for the 15th district from 2015–17.

Early years[edit]

Born in 1968 to a single mother in Buffalo, New York, he was adopted at age 3 by Joanne and Carl Klingenschmitt, Roman Catholics who had him baptized. He was raised in suburban Akron, New York.[1]

Career[edit]

Klingenschmitt graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a bachelor's degree in political science and from Regent University with a master's degree in divinity, a Master of Business Administration, and a Doctor of Philosophy in theology.[2]

At the Air Force Academy, he attended a Pentecostal Bible study. Klingenschmitt was "born again" on December 13, 1986, when he "invited Jesus Christ to rule my heart in ways he had never previously done."[1] He entered into active duty in the United States Air Force on May 29, 1991 and continued his service with the Air Force until September 2, 2002. He served in the United States Navy as a military chaplain.[3]

Klingenschmitt ran for the 15th district seat in the Colorado House of Representatives in the 2014 elections. He received 70% of the vote in the general election to win the seat.[4]

Court-martial conviction[edit]

In March 2006, Klingenschmitt appeared in his Navy uniform at a political protest at Lafayette Square in front of the White House, alongside Roy Moore. He was subsequently court-martialed at Naval Station Norfolk and in September 2006 was found guilty by the jury of one misdemeanor count of disobeying a lawful order (Klingenschmitt had been instructed by his commanding officers not to appear at media or political events in uniform). The jury recommended that Klingenschmitt receive a reprimand and forfeiture $3,000 in pay over a twelve-month period, although the jury also recommended that the forfeiture be suspended.[5]

Klingenschmitt was subsequently ousted from the Navy and sued in the Court of Federal Claims, claiming that he was wrongfully discharged from the Navy and seeking reinstatement, and arguing that his First Amendment rights were violated.[6]

The court rejected Klingenschmitt's claims, and held that the order issued to Klingenschmitt was properly “based on Navy regulations that prohibit the wearing of a uniform in connection with political activities" and "did not 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)." The Court ruled that the order "simply prohibited Dr. Klingenschmitt from engaging in this activity while wearing his uniform at what was clearly a political event and not, as Dr. Klingenschmitt seems to suggest, a bona fide religious service."[6]

Political and social views[edit]

During his time as a Navy chaplain, Klingenschmitt was "a vocal critic of the Navy's policies on prayer in ceremonial settings"[5] engaging in "a long-running battle with the military over regulations requiring chaplains to deliver inclusive prayers at military events other than religious services."[6] Klingenschmitt "accused his superiors of pressuring chaplains to offer generic, nonsectarian prayers" and as a result "gained wide attention and sympathy among religious conservatives."[5]

During a 2012 appearance on The David Pakman Show, Klingenschmitt debated Jonathan Phelps, of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church.[7][8]

Klingenschmitt is also known for his efforts to shut down the YouTube channel of one of his most vocal critics, Right Wing Watch, which uses video clips of his statements.[9]

In 2012, Colorado attorney, businessman, and former Air Force officer Michael L. Weinstein, sued Klingenschmitt for issuing an imprecatory prayer that Weinstein claimed amounted to a fatwa. The suit was dismissed by the judge, ruling Weinstein had failed to connect the prayer to any subsequent threats or actions against him.[10]

In 2014, Klingenschmitt wrote in an email that openly gay U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) wanted to execute Christians; both political parties in Colorado disavowed Klingenschmitt.[11]

In 2014, Klingenschmitt (then a Republican candidate for Colorado state representative in an eastern El Paso County district) frequently compared President Barack Obama to a demon, saying on one occasion that he was a "demon of tyranny" and was among "the domestic enemies of the Constitution." Klingenschmitt also asserted that "Obamacare causes cancer."[12]

In March 2015, in response to an assault where a woman from Longmont, Colorado, had her 34-week-old fetus cut out of her womb,[13] said the incident was evidence of the "curse of God" for abortion. Other Republicans denounced Klingenschmitt's comments.[14] Despite Klingenschmitt's apology and recanting of the remarks,[15] he was removed from the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee for two weeks. He voluntarily suspended his television ministry for six weeks.[16]

In July 2015, Klingenschmitt responded to the Boy Scouts of America lifting their ban on gay scoutmasters by saying that this would lead to an increase in child molestation in the organization.[17][18] The following month, Klingenschmitt reportedly stated that gays and pedophiles are influenced by different demons.[19] In January 2017, he stated that gay men should be disqualified from teaching positions because of "their immorality."[20]

Controversy over charity[edit]

After political adversaries complained without documentation that Klingenschmitt's non-profit religious charity successfully raised more than $850,000, "Klingenschmitt opened up his nonprofit's finances for scrutiny to The Gazette in an effort to be transparent after some questioned the finances of Persuade the World Ministries, which does business as Pray in Jesus Name Ministries. Klingenschmitt provided three years of tax returns, an audited financial statement and access to his certified public accountant.[citation needed]

The Gazette found Klingenschmitt doesn't accept a salary or other compensation from the charity, and he appears to be keeping the finances separate from his for-profit entity – which shares a website with the nonprofit and a similar name Pray in Jesus Name Project."[21] The Gazette declared "There's nothing illegal about that, or even outside the realm of best practices for nonprofits that regularly hire outside companies to manage their fundraisers and finances."[21]

2016 Election[edit]

In 2016, Klingenschmitt did not seek re-election to his seat in the House but instead ran for State Senate in District 12. He lost in the primary to fellow Republican Bob Gardner, who went on to win the general election in November.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Klingenschmitt profile, gazette.com; accessed February 1, 2017.
  2. ^ "Klingenschmitt, Fornander offer 'extremes' on both ends in House District 15 race". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  3. ^ "Court Documents". ecf.cofc.uscourts.gov. November 24, 2017.
  4. ^ "Election night in Colorado exciting, if anti-climactic". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Alan Cooperman (September 14, 2006). "Navy Chaplain Guilty of Disobeying an Order". Washington Post.
  6. ^ a b c Howard Friedman, Controversial Former Navy Chaplain Loses Another Round, Religion Clause (November 26, 2014) (quoting Klingenschmitt v. United States (Ct. Fed. Cl., November 24, 2014)).
  7. ^ Wong, Curtis (November 29, 2012). "Anti-Gay Pundits Come To Surprisingly Different Conclusions On The LGBT Community". Huffington Post.
  8. ^ "'God Hates Fags' Church & Anti-Gay Navy Chaplain Debate, Agree on NOTHING". YouTube. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "How Did a Conservative Colorado Preacher Get YouTube to Shut Down His Liberal Critics?". nationaljournal.com. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "Praying for God to hurt someone is not illegal, judge rules". USATODAY.COM. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  11. ^ "Colorado candidate claims Rep. Jared Polis wants to execute Christians". The Spot. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  12. ^ Jesse Paul (June 26, 2014). "El Paso County GOP candidate Klingenschmitt compares Obama to demon". Denver Post.
  13. ^ "Longmont 911 tape shows woman pleading for help after baby cut from womb". denverpost.com. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  14. ^ "GOP aghast at Klingenschmitt's act-of-God comment in baby's death". denverpost.com. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  15. ^ "Klingenschmitt apologizes". youtube.com. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  16. ^ "Klingenschmitt loses committee post, suspends ministry for six weeks". denverpost.com. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  17. ^ "Colo. GOP asked to denounce Klingenschmitt for saying gay Scout leaders will molest children". 7NEWS. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  18. ^ GOP comdemns Klingenschmitt's comments about gay boy scout, denverpost.com; accessed August 25, 2015.
  19. ^ "Klingenschmitt speech on gays and pedophiles on YouTube". Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  20. ^ Wong, Curtis M. "Ex-Lawmaker Wants 'Immoral' Gay People Disqualified From Teaching". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Colorado Springs' Rep. Klingenschmitt discusses finances of his nonprofit, for-profit enterprises". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  22. ^ Bohlen, Teague. "Eight Reasons to Give Thanks That Gordon Klingenschmitt Lost the Primary", westword.com, July 18, 2016; accessed March 1, 2018.