By Herb Silverman
The phrase “More Catholic than the Pope” usually refers to someone who is more religiously strict than the Catholic Church requires. Gordon Klingenschmitt, Republican nominee for Colorado House of Representatives District 15, is not Catholic, but I’d add him to the club.
Klingenschmitt was upset when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling against a Wisconsin public school district that had been holding graduation ceremonies in a local church. He assumed that atheists were responsible, and responded, “I have a solution. Let’s do an exorcism and cast the devil out of them and then they’ll feel comfortable when they walk into church.”
Klingenschmitt had previously claimed that President Obama’s support for gay marriage showed that Obama must be possessed by demonic spirits. He’s also said that Jesus will eventually rule against gay marriage and toss all gays into hell. It’s bad enough that Pope Francis and other Catholic clergy perform exorcisms on the gullible faithful in their own Church, but Klingenschmitt wants to exorcise the devil from everyone who disagrees with his theological and political views.
I rarely feel I can speak for all atheists, but I’ll make an exception for Gordon Klingenschmitt: Dear Gordon, I don’t know what your problem is with atheists, but it won’t be resolved with exorcisms. Any attempt to cast the devil out of atheists would be about as effective as my attempting to cast the Tooth Fairy out of you. We atheists can easily get rid of any evil spirits you dream up by simply not believing in them.
Theology aside, Klingenschmitt is wrong for a number of other reasons. I’ll list only three.
- It’s not just atheists who support the separation of religion and government. See, for instance, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, headed by a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Barry Lynn. Would Klingenschmitt support holding public school graduation ceremonies in mosques? In a Satanic Temple? Or in gay churches? If Klingenschmitt is opposed to public activities in those other venues, then he should understand why atheists and other secular Americans oppose our government favoring one religion over another or religion over non-religion.