May 2019 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

A Religious Right zealot who once announced he was praying for the death of Americans United’s former executive director lost his bid for a seat on the Colorado Springs City Council last month.

Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain, came in fourth in an 11-person race. There were three open seats, and only about 3,000 votes separated Klingenschmitt from the third-place winner.

Klingenschmitt first came to Am­ericans United’s attention in 2007 when he defied Navy superiors’ orders to use non-sectarian prayers at military events where people from many different faith perspectives would be present. He was later forced out of the Navy after speaking at a Religious Right rally wearing his uniform, a violation of military regulations.

Two years later, Klingenschmitt started a Religious-Right-themed website called Prayinjesusname.org that showed a photo of him in a naval uniform. Americans United and Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, alerted Navy officials, who contacted Klingenschmitt and told him to make it clear he was no longer in the service. Klingenschmitt did later add the requested disclaimers.

In retaliation, however, Klingenschmitt announced he would be praying for the deaths of the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, then AU’s executive director, and Weinstein. Such supplications, known as “imprecatory prayers,” have been embraced by some extremists in the Religious Right to use against their perceived enemies.

“Almighty God, today we pray imprecatory prayers from Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty, including Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein, who recently issued a press release attacking me personally,” Klingenschmitt posted on his website. “God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround me and tell lies about me. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore, find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with godly people. Plunder their fields and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants. And remember their sins. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Klingenschmitt has made several runs for public office. He served briefly in the Colorado House of Representatives but gave up that seat to run for state Senate in 2016. He was crushed in the primary, 62 percent to 38 percent.

In 2017, he launched a bid to become vice chair of the El Paso County, Colo., Republican Party but captured only 30 percent of the vote.

On his Facebook page, Klingenschmitt implied that he may run for office again.

“Well, I was the top vote-getter among all candidates who didn’t win,” he wrote. “Placed 4th of 11 in my run for city council at-large in Colorado Springs … Got nearly 25 thousand votes, that’s a revival! My base is growing ... maybe next time.”