Sen. Schultheis: Colorado Media Matters "loves to hate" me

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State Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs), who left out key details of his "Religious Bill of Rights" for public schools while discussing it on talk radio and who sparked controversy when he questioned the immigration status of Hispanic victims of a fatal car crash, "said Colorado Media Matters 'loves to hate' him," according to the Denver Daily News.

A February 8 Denver Daily News article about state Sen. Dave Schultheis' so-called "Religious Bill of Rights" for public schools (SB 138) reported that "Schultheis said Colorado Media Matters 'loves to hate' him." As Colorado Media Matters noted on February 1, Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) omitted key elements of the bill but claimed misleadingly that "all it does is ... force awareness in the public school systems of what the First Amendment already guarantees in terms of religious liberty" during a January 31 appearance on 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show.

As The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported in a January 27 article, Schultheis' bill "would require school boards to allow students to opt out of classes that conflict with their religious beliefs" and "would also subject school board members to personal liability in a lawsuit aimed at forcing administrators to comply with the law." The Daily News quoted Schultheis as saying, "It's hard to remember everything of a bill ... I had no problem mentioning those things [on Boyles' show], but I was trying to get across the main issues."

On Boyles' show, Schultheis had asserted explicitly that "[a]ll [the bill] does" is "force awareness in the public school systems" about religious freedoms:

SCHULTHEIS: Well basically, you know, the reason why -- I've been wrestling with this issue for probably, I don't know, six years almost. It seems like there's been increasing intolerance among our public school officials and administration and so forth towards religious beliefs of individuals, and, you know, teaching subjects that are, in many cases, politically correct and contrary to the strongly held religious beliefs of some individuals. And, you know, they keep misinterpreting Thomas Jefferson's phrase "separation of church and state" and, and all. And I -- and I, I find that there's parents that, you know, that increasingly get concerned with, with what's going on here and they're pulling, a lot of them are pulling their kids out of schools --

BOYLES: Oh, absolutely.

SCHULTHEIS: -- and putting them into private or home schooling and so forth. And so this doesn't create really a new law, necessarily. All it does is it's going to force awareness in the public school systems of what the First Amendment already guarantees in terms of religious liberty. That's all it does. And it's similar to, you know, you walk into a hospital and you walk up there and you see a patient's bill of rights at individual hospitals.

Colorado Media Matters has also noted that a Rocky Mountain News article about the December 12, 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Greeley quoted Schultheis but failed to mention his controversial statements regarding the immigration status of the Hispanic victims of a fatal car accident in October in rural Weld County. All of the victims were U.S. citizens.

From the article "Religion in schools," by Peter Marcus, in the February 8 edition of the Denver Daily News:

Mum on Media Matters

Colorado Media Matters, an independent local media watchdog, would not comment on the measure itself, but found it peculiar that Schultheis did not mention two aspects of his legislation when speaking to 630 KHOW radio talk show host Peter Boyles on Jan. 31.

"It's a pretty straight forward bill, I don't know why if [Schultheis] believes in a piece of legislation why he doesn't just come out and talk about all the pieces of the legislation," said Bill Menezes, editorial director for Colorado Media Matters. "It seems to me like there was something he was trying to hide or doubts he may have had about this specific legislation."

Schultheis failed to discuss with Boyles the component of S.B. 138 that would require opt-out provisions to individuals whose religious beliefs conflicted with the curriculum, and he did not discuss the part that would hold school board individuals personally liable.

Loves to hate him

Schultheis said Colorado Media Matters "loves to hate" him.

"It's hard to remember everything of a bill," he said. "I had no problem mentioning those things, but I was trying to get across the main issues."

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