The controversy came to a head yesterday via three developments.
First, Klingenschmitt released a new video in which he apologized for his previous comments, but only after attacking several media members he claims are dishonest; see the program below. Then, he was removed from one of his House committee assignments. And finally, he announced that he was temporarily suspending his ministry to concentrate on his legislative duties against the backdrop of claims that he'd been punished at the legislature for the sin of "quoting unpopular Bible verses in my Sunday church."
Klingenschmitt's latest video, shared on his Pray in Jesus Name YouTube channel, is dominated by his take on the fallout from his previous Wilkins segment, in which he quoted the Biblical passage Hosea 13:16 ("The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God/They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open") before opining: "I wonder if there is prophetic significance to America today in that scripture. This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open."
Before taking responsibility for his own shortcomings, Klingenschmitt excoriates three members of the media — the Colorado Independent's Mike Littwin, 9News' Brandon Rittiman and Fox31's Eli Stokols (who's now joined Politico) — for using phrases such as "act of God" and "wrath of God" instead of his own phrase, "curse of God." In his view, this makes them dishonest reporters — something that especially surprised him in the case of Stokols, who he'd initially trusted (despite warnings from colleagues) because he was on a Fox affiliate.
Dubbed "honest" are the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader, who's said to have printed a retraction, and the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels, who he admits quoted him accurately despite writing an article that was largely negative.
After that, Klingenschmitt finally looks at his own actions and finds them wanting. "I do want to apologize for the words I chose," he says. "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."
Unfortunately for Klingenschmitt, the die had already been cast at the Colorado general assembly, where Republican minority leader Brian DelGrosso removed him from his assignment to the health, insurance and environment committee.
In a statement shared by 9News, DelGrosso is quoted as saying, "I was very disturbed by Representative Klingenschmitt's comments last week and want to reiterate that his comments do not represent our caucus and he does not speak for our caucus. As House minority leader, my ability to discipline a member of our caucus is limited. Representative Klingenschmitt's conduct warranted his removal from the committee,"
Klingenschmitt, who remains on the House's government committee, reacted to this news with an op-ed piece in the Colorado Statesman that appears under the headline "In the Bible They Stoned Prophets." In it, he notes that "long before I was elected HD15's State Representative, I served as an ordained minister, former Navy Chaplain, and I still preach two hours every Sunday in my private ministry on our national TV show. When I decided to run for office, I thought I could keep doing both jobs. Most State Reps have two jobs. I thought I could wear two hats. Perhaps I was mistaken."
In his view, his ministry job "has begun to overshadow the important work of serving as your State Rep., Monday through Friday in the Capitol." As such, he announces 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."
He doesn't stop there, however. Klingenschmitt then addresses his removal from the committee, arguing that DelGrosso's move "clearly establishes an unprecedented religious litmus test for which representatives can sit on what committees.
"I was not driving drunk," he stresses. "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?"
There's a lot more to this martyr bit than that; to read the piece in its entirety, click here. But the words that may resonate more with many observers are included in the apology video. "I'm not a perfect person," Klingenschmitt says.
Here's the video in its entirety. If you want to skip straight to the "I'm sorry" section, you'll find it just past the 23 minute mark.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.