Political extremism lurks behind prayers at Colorado Capitol • Colorado Newsline

No two days are the same at the Colorado Capitol, but they all have one thing in common: prayer.

A formal morning prayer is held in the House and Senate before any other functions, and the importance that lawmakers attach to this ritual implies that Scripture is the primary authority in the General Assembly.

Religious faith is central to many Colorado households, and legislators often rely on faith for moral guidance. But daily communal prayer overseen by legislative leaders in the seat of state government is detrimental to democratic lawmaking and undermines the Legislature’s duty to act on behalf of all Coloradans. It invites a supernatural hand into secular debates and fills the chambers with the interests of faith. There is no good reason to continue this, and there are numerous reasons why it should stop.

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In February I published a first comment on the subject of government prayers at the Colorado Capitol. The article cited several of the prayers lawmakers are subjected to and made it clear that some of the rhetoric divisive or wrongThe commentary also addressed the religious and demographic bias of the prayers.

A Newsline analysis found that the person who led prayer in the House more than anyone else during the 2023 and 2024 sessions was Republican Assistant Minority Leader Ty Winter. Before being elected to the legislature in 2022, Winter was a far-right conspiracy podcaster with connections to the extremist group the Proud Boys. He led 13 prayers in the House of Representatives this year, more than any other person. But he is not the only person with ties to political extremism who has been allowed to lead lawmakers in ceremonies supposedly meant to invoke shared transcendent values.

On March 4, Mike Polhemus was invited to lead the house prayer. Polhemus’ Rock Church in Castle Rock is geared towards dangerous election deniers and the anti-government group linked to the militia FEC United.

On March 7, State Senator Mark Baisley was invited to lead the Senate prayer. Baisley has close Ties to Charis Bible College, where founder Andrew Wommack is committed to Mandate of the Seven Mountainsthat Christians should rule over all aspects of society. Charis is associated with the New Apostolic Reformation, a Trump-warrior dominance movement led by self-proclaimed “prophets.”

On April 5, Ric Brown was invited by the Church at Briargate in Colorado Springs to lead the house prayer. The church is a constant source of Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry.

Capitol leaders should not grant such people the privilege of a platform in the Statehouse beyond what they are entitled to as participants in the legislative process.

More than half – 55% – of the prayers in the House of Representatives were led by white Christian men.

Newsline’s analysis found that in the House of Representatives during the 2023 legislative session, men led morning prayers nearly 80% of the time; more than two-thirds of the prayers were explicitly Christian or represented a Christian perspective; and nearly half of the prayers were led by white Christian men. Prayers in the Senate shared similar characteristics.

The 2024 session ended in May, and new analysis shows that Parliament’s prayer program continues to show a clear preference for white Christian men. This year more more than half – 55% – of the prayers in the House were led by white Christian men. Christianity was represented in at least 72% of morning prayers in the House, an increase from the previous year. In the House, 76% of prayers were led by men. In the Senate, the figure was 86%.

Politicians should shut down the Capitol prayer program not only because of its demographic bias, but also because it sometimes gives hated figures a platform they do not deserve. The bigger problem is that NO Government would have any promote official role any message of religious belief, especially not as part of the everyday work it does for people of different or no religious beliefs.

The government prayer is especially toxic now as Christian theocracy is on the rise in Colorado and across the country. The state’s most prominent political figure, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, has explicitly called for the Christian church to “run the government.” Oklahoma’s top education official recently ordered all public schools in the state to teaching the BibleConservative activists preparing for a second Trump administration intend to take the federal government to an organ of Christian nationalism.

Habits die hard, but when Parliament reconvenes in January, it should reinstate its democratic purpose by freeing itself from government petitions.