Colorado Springs Gazette

Colorado's proposed sex ed curriculum: Which religious groups protested it?

Colorado's proposed sex ed curriculum: Which religious groups protested it?

Maybe I’ve been sleeping under a rock recently, but I didn’t realize that half the metro Denver area was abuzz with a proposed sex education curriculum for its public schools.

As I looked at various media accounts, only one religious group — Catholics — stood out as opposing the substantial changes in how Colorado kids would learn about sex. There’s no mention of organized resistance from other groups, even the evangelical behemoth, Focus on the Family, an hour south of Denver.

Here’s the big question: How far into the story do readers need to dig to find out the crucial question here is parental rights, in terms of having the ability to opt out of classes that violate their religious convictions?

We’ll start with the Denver Post’s coverage, then branch out.

After more than 10 hours of debate and the testimony — both written and spoken — of more than 300 people, Democrats on a Colorado House committee approved a sexual education bill shortly before midnight Wednesday.

If it passes the General Assembly, the bill would amend a 2013 law by removing a waiver for public charter schools that lets them pick other sex ed criteria. It would also fund a grant program for schools that lack the resources to teach human sexuality and expand upon the LGBT relationship portion of the curriculum requirements.

The new section on teaching about “healthy relationships” and the “different relationship models” students may encounter appeared to be the touchstone for most of the objections from parents, educators and faith leaders Wednesday. Dozens of speakers told the committee they worry that if the General Assembly passes the bill, school districts will be teaching kids about sexual acts and lifestyles their faith disagrees with.

“If you’re for House Bill 1032, then you’re for exposing 9-year-olds to sexually explicit techniques,” said James Rea, a father of four. “We don’t want to expose our children to this kind of forced sexual education.”

Who are the “faith leaders” involved? One, according to CruxNow, is the Catholic archbishop of Denver. Crux said:

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Why no news coverage of Trump silence on China's destruction of evangelical megachurch?

Why no news coverage of Trump silence on China's destruction of evangelical megachurch?

One reason elements of the Christian Right are said to strongly back President Donald Trump is because of their, and supposedly his, deep concern for global religious freedom issues -- in particular the persecution of Christians in nations such as China.

Yet, as of this writing (Jan. 15), the White House has yet to utter a peep about last week’s destruction by the Chinese government of a massive “underground” evangelical church facility that housed a huge congregation of 50,000 or more, according to reports.

Moreover, no one in the mainstream or Christian media, as far as I can ascertain, has publicly asked the administration for an answer as to why it has remained mute. Not Trump’s media supporters or opponents (of which I am one).

Nor have we heard anything from members of the president's personal religious advisory committee. And certainly not from anyone from the State Department or the largely punchless United States Commission on International Religious Freedom -- which did see fit to issue a statement last week marking the death of Mormon Church leader Thomas S. Monson.

Has the Trump coverage bar dropped so low, has it been so overwhelmed by endless questions about crises seemingly of the president’s own making, that there simply is no room left for routine questions as to why the administration failed to issue so much as a pro forma response to the church demolition?

Clearly, I'm afraid, the answer is “yes.”

But that doesn't mean that religion-beat writers, in particular, should simply acquiesce to the current state of affairs.

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Colorado Springs motives? So far, one is clear: Pro-life pastor/officer died defending life

Colorado Springs motives? So far, one is clear: Pro-life pastor/officer died defending life

Faced with headlines about violence at an abortion facility, the late Cardinal John O'Connor of New York City took to the pulpit and, digging into the writings of the Catholic Catechism, Pope John Paul II and Gandhi, stated the obvious. Do you remember that very candid quote?

"If anyone has an urge to kill someone at an abortion clinic, they should shoot me," said the late Cardinal John O'Connor, preaching to his New York City flock in 1994. "It's madness. It discredits the right-to-life movement. Murder is murder. It's madness. You cannot prevent killing by killing."

The cardinal added, in an online forum:

"Where does this spiral end? How is it limited? Surely, we are all as tired of abortion as we are tired of murder. But we must fight murder without conforming to it or condoning it," wrote the cardinal. ... Let us attend to God's revelation: 'Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good' (Romans 12: 21).

Now, I bring this up as law officials in Colorado Springs begin the process of digging into the history of the man arrested as the gunman in the horrifying standoff at a Planned Parenthood. Apparently, Robert Lewis Dear has a previous criminal record.

And what about motive? Here is a recent update, as posted at The Colorado Springs Gazette:

The Associated Press reports Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers says authorities aren't ready to discuss a possible motive of the gunman who attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic there, but says people can make "inferences from where it took place."
Suthers says investigators have interviewed Dear, but that authorities still want to learn more about him, suggesting that his mental health was part of the investigation.

Now in this case, the tragic reality is that it is much easier to articulate the motives of the local police officer who was one of the first responders and lost his life in the fighting.

The officer's name: The Rev. Garrett Swasey.

Are you seeing that title -- "The Rev." -- in front of his name?

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Colorado same-sex wedding cake wars: Coverage ranges from 'too hot' to 'too cold' to 'just right'

Colorado same-sex wedding cake wars: Coverage ranges from 'too hot' to 'too cold' to 'just right'

First off, my apologies to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I hate to insert them into Colorado's same-sex wedding cake wars. 

However, their involvement seems appropriate in this case, as I critique media coverage this week that ranges from "too hot" to "too cold" to "just right."

Let's start with an Associated Press story headlined "The growing conflict between religious groups and gay rights advocates":

DENVER — The growing conflict between religious groups and gay-rights advocates over punishments in discrimination cases is playing out in Colorado, with a Democrat-led committing (sic) rejecting Republican proposals aimed at protecting individuals and organizations from complaints.
But what some conservatives view as trying to preserve religious freedom, Democrats and gay-rights advocates see as potentially sanctioning discrimination.
One proposal would have prohibited penalties in discrimination cases if the punishment — such as an order to serve gay couples — violated the beliefs of the accused. Another measure, written broadly, barred government officials from constraining the exercise of religion.

 

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Weed in Denver, but Easter news on other front pages

If you live in the Mile High City (no pun intended), you woke up Sunday morning to this banner headline on your hometown paper’s front page: Another Colorado newspaper had a much better week than the Post — and not just because it won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. The Colorado Springs Gazette, edited my my friend and former colleague Joe Hight, filled up two-thirds of its Sunday front page with this headline:

Yes, the Gazette published a major religion story — and not a marijuana tourism piece — on its Easter front page:

The road to Chimayo, N.M. is long and tiring during the Christian holy week leading up to Easter.

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Way to go, Joe! Colorado civil-unions story hits the mark

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that Joe Hight, the relatively new editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, is a longtime friend and mentor of mine.

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