The Christian Right in American Politics: Marching to the Millennium

By John C. Green; Mark J. Rozell et al. | Go to book overview

NINE

The Christian Right and the Cultural Divide in Colorado

Robert Zwier

IN FRONT OF CITY HALL IN THE WESTERN COLORADO TOWN OF Grand Junction stands a small monument containing the Ten Commandments. The display has been on this property for more than four decades, but a recent renovation of the municipal building provoked a controversy. Under the threat of a lawsuit from the ACLU and seeking a middle ground, the City Council voted early in 2001 to retain the monument on municipal property but to include a disclaimer that the display did not constitute the establishment of a religion and to include other historical documents—such as the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence—in the display. The mayor, who opposed the compromise plan and favored removing the display, was running for reelection in April. The Christian Coalition of Colorado (CCCO) mobilized through its local county chapter and through a letter-writing campaign that generated 7,000 letters from its Denver headquarters. The mayor lost his reelection bid and the CCCO claimed victory. Ironically, the lawsuit was dropped because the complainants feared that an adverse judicial ruling would be an incentive for even more communities to allow similar displays.

Nearly a decade earlier, the Christian Right brought Colorado to national attention by promoting a ballot initiative called Amendment 2—a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay rights laws, including those already approved in the liberal enclaves of Aspen, Boulder, and Denver. The center of the Amendment 2 movement was in Colorado Springs (El Paso County), which is home to several evangelical Christian organizations, most notably Focus on the Family, led by Dr. James Dobson. The amendment was approved by 53.4 percent

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