Just get a little vanilla latte into Rob Brendle’s system and the associate pastor of Colorado’s largest evangelical Christian congregation is ready to rack ’em and crack ’em.
As Pastor Ted Haggard’s sidekick, Brendle preaches to his own crowd on Saturday nights at the decidedly political, 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs. According to his online bio, Brendle helped pioneer the world’s first internet-based real-time prayer information exchange. He also serves in an advisory role with the Colorado Springs-based National Association of Evangelicals.
This week, Brendle happily shares a broad range of his worldviews with Colorado Confidential, from gay marriage to tall buildings to the politics of conservative preaching, why Pete Coors should be in the U.S. Senate – and his profound disappointment that his good buddy Jeff Crank recently lost a bitter Republican primary in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District to Doug Lamborn. CoCo Are you going to be able to support Doug Lamborn?
Brendle: Oh man, you asked me a hard question. Let’s go off the record for a minute so I can purge my soul…
(10 minutes later) I approach politics from an ideological standpoint; I don’t vote for a candidate based on his personality, I support a candidate for his philosophy of governance. Personalities come and go. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were colorful personalities – the same was true with Bush and Gore, Johnson and Kennedy. Throughout American history I…
CoCo (Interrupting) OK, so are you going to be able to support Lamborn?
Brendle Um, yes. Doug shares, um, most every political position that I hold and can ably represent those positions. While there may be candidates whose personalities, um, could accomplish more, Doug will ably represent citizens of this region.
CoCo Are you happy to have Doug Lamborn represent you for 20 years?
Brendle I don’t know that I’d say that. Doug Lamborn will do just fine, just fine. Barely fine.
CoCo So are you working like heck to recruit another Republican who will come back in two years and beat him?
Brendle This is the potential weakness in the Republican Party in Colorado and the country. The reason we have Senator [Ken] Salazar is we couldn’t get over ourselves after the [primary fight between Republicans Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer]. We were going on and on about Pete Coors and his ads with women in bikinis and how he couldn’t be elected, and we were so self-important and self-consumed as a party that we effectively elected Senator Salazar.
CoCo Should we have elected Pete Coors to the U.S. Senate `cause he drives drunk?
Brendle We should have elected Pete Coors to the Senate cause he could have represented the state. We would be wise as a Republican Party not to Schaffer ourselves; The verb, to Schaffer: that we lose sight of the big picture in favor of our ideological scruples. That is not going to happen in District 5. I don’t mean we should elect unlawful or immoral people but we shouldn’t sacrifice our role in good government because of our intraparty disputes.
CoCo So you’re not going to be a Republican for Jay Fawcett?
Brendle No. I think Fawcett’s a fine man, he does have military experience and a military person would make a fine representative for District 5. But I disagree with him on life. I feel strongly in the sanctity of human life and I think that history and technology and science will show in our lifetime that abortion is the greatest evil of our time, on that I will sound like a stomping sweating conservative.
CoCo What is the “radical homosexual lobby”?
Brendle Um, perhaps it is the political movement to take a lifestyle that is a fringe of the fringe, demographically speaking, and normalize it. It’s using the law to force you and me to realize an ideology that is demographically fringe, and trying to use the law to make it mainstream. I don’t think it is trying to homosexualize everybody, I don’t believe there is anyone trying to proselytize anyone to become homosexual.
CoCo What about gay marriage? Why shouldn’t committed gay couples be allowed to marry?
Brendle I would argue the constitution does give a homosexual to marry consenting adults of opposite sex, and I defend the right for a gay person to marry a consenting member of the opposite sex.
CoCo So would you support the marriage if a partner got a sex change operation?
Brendle That’s too sophisticated for me. I live in Colorado Springs; I get nervous around tall buildings.
CoCo Why is New Life Church so involved in politics?
Brendle Why wouldn’t we be? The burden of reason isn’t on us for our involvement; every citizen in America is well advised to be involved in the political system. It’s what makes America great. The burden of reason is on you to tell me why Christians shouldn’t be involved in the political system. I think that is one of the most preposterous questions the left asks.
CoCo For a bit of context, I was actually thinking about the recent New York Times story about the evangelical pastor of a megachurch in Minnesota who just said no to mixing politics with religion in his church…
Brendle The left is cheering that. I respect his preference to not be political. If he chooses to forfeit his consenting role, I wouldn’t deprive him, but I don’t think that’s the best thing. When people willingly politically neuter themselves, that’s lunacy. As soon as we do that, welcome Politburo.
CoCo Are you mad that the IRS prohibits religious nonprofits from endorsing candidates?
Brendle It is what it is. I willingly submit to the government authorities, but to say therefore churches shouldn’t talk about politics – that’s an absurd leap. I own the Constitution, I read the thing, and I couldn’t find anything in the Constitution that people of religious organizations have to recuse themselves from the political arena.
CoCo Are you mad at the left?
Brendle I’m mad at this thinking.