Governor Rivals Spar on Religion

October 18, 2006

Author: Mark P. Couch

Source: The Denver Post

Colorado's leading candidates for governor sparred over the proper role of church and state Tuesday evening at a debate sponsored by Denver-area Jewish groups.

Democrat Bill Ritter left Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez speechless after criticizing Beauprez's running mate, Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland. Ritter said churches, synagogues and mosques can serve as a conduit for government funding to needy people when those institutions are "neutral" about how they distribute the aid.

But then he pointed out that Beauprez's running mate "is on record saying that she doesn't believe there is a separation of church and state." Beauprez shook his head during Ritter's remarks and declined the moderator's offer to let him defend his running mate.

Instead, Beauprez chided Ritter for attacking "somebody who's not here." According to the July-August 2004 issue of The Testimony, "Western Colorado's Christian Chronicle," Rowland and other political candidates were asked a series of questions about religion and public life.

When asked "How do you feel about the 'separation of church and state?"' Rowland answered: "It's not in the Constitution. We should have the freedom OF religion, not the freedom FROM religion."