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Dems boot pastor as debate moderator

GREELEY, Colo. – Democrats at their nominating convention in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month removed any reference to God in their platform, and it took three votes to restore Him. Even then, delegates booed the action.

Seems the trickle-down theory must work, as a Democratic candidate for state office in Colorado worked to exclude a member of the clergy from moderating a local debate because his supporters were “uncomfortable” with a church leader asking questions.

“Just hours before the debate, the campaign manager for the Democratic incumbent told me I would not be doing the debate because they said supporters were uncomfortable with having a member of the clergy moderate it,” pastor Steve Grant of Destiny Christian Center told WND.

The debate between Democratic incumbent Dave Young and “Skip” Carlson, the GOP challenger for Colorado’s House District 50, had been scheduled for weeks. The district is in Weld County, one of the more conservative counties in the state.

Grant had been chosen to moderate the debate several weeks ago, but suddenly, the day before the debate, the Young campaign objected to his participation. Kelley Meck, Young’s campaign manager, contacted Carlson, the GOP challenger, to express dissatisfaction.

“He told me they were uncomfortable with it, and they had talked to pastor Grant, and he was uncomfortable doing it as well. Since they said they talked to Grant, and he was uncomfortable moderating the debate, I agreed to have someone else moderate the debate,” Carlson said.

Dave Young

The only problem was Grant was not aware of the change until the following day. Meck had left a message asking Grant to call him over the rules for the debate but left no other details. Grant did not get the message until later, because he was conducting a prayer service.

The following morning, just hours before the event, Grant called Meck and was told he would not be moderating the debate, but instead it was being moderated by Theresa Myers from the editorial board of the Greeley Tribune.

The paper has come out in support of same-sex marriage and written a scathing editorial during the court martial of Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, the Army doctor who was dismissed from the military and sentenced to prison after he refused to deploy because he questioned Barack Obama’s eligibility for office.

Lakin, who is from Greeley, was compared by the paper to another local resident who murdered transvestite Angie Zapata. The editorial board also recently criticized the Colorado secretary of state for looking into allegations of voter fraud, saying it “wasn’t an issue.”

Grant’s removal had the potential to be an explosive issue when it was revealed to the audience by Gunter Hess, a Greeley resident.

“I was very perturbed when I found out that the man I was told last week would be the moderator, pastor Steven Grant, was told at the last minute he would not be allowed to moderate the debate,” Hess said. “I’m trying to find out how that happened. This man is a very straightforward, ethical man, and I’d like to know how that decision was made.”

Myers appeared shaken by the question and said she would defer to the candidates as to whether they wanted to answer the question.

Young attempted to deflect the issue by saying they were not aware that Grant was the moderator until the day before the debate.

Carlson said there was a specific agenda at play.

“Kelley called me and said, ‘We’re not comfortable with having pastor Grant as the moderator because he cannot be impartial.’ He said can I call him and talk to him? Of course, I gave him Grant’s phone number,” Carlson said. “Meck called back saying he had talked to Steve, and he’s not comfortable moderating the debate and we’re not comfortable, can we change?

“I said, if you’ve talked to Steve and you’re not comfortable then sure, we can have a different moderator. Then I found out Grant had not been contacted by Young’s campaign, so I think it was a little unfair how this happened.”

Meck said, “That’s Skip’s impression of the conversation.”

He said the basis for excluding Grant was that the campaign had not had a say in choosing him, and they wanted someone they both could agree on.

The Tribune’s coverage of the debate completely omitted any information about the controversy over a member of their editorial board being chosen over a member of the local clergy.

“What the campaign is doing is limiting it to where the Tribune controls all of it. Randy Bangert, publisher of the Tribune, moderated another debate on Monday where he only picked the questions that benefited Young the most. They want no representation from the clergy or conservative media outlets,” Grant argued.

Carlson was asked if he would have agreed to have Myers moderate the debate if he had known the campaign had not talked to Grant.

“Absolutely not. The only reason I agreed to a different moderator is because they said Grant was uncomfortable doing the debate.”

Grant said he wasn’t buying Young’s explanation.

“I have been scheduled to moderate this debate for two weeks. The idea that the campaign didn’t know about it is disingenuous at best.

“He never called me personally to discuss the issue, instead saying he talked to other people who supposedly knew me to make his decision,” Grant explained. “When I called him, he told me there were people he had talked with who were uncomfortable with having a member of the clergy moderate a debate. He also said there was a conflict of interest because Carlson had suggested I moderate the debate.

“The campaign’s attitude shows utter contempt for the First Amendment. They deify journalists as being objective and impartial compared to clergy, who work with all types of people. The right to freedom of religion is clearly listed before the freedom of the press, showing what the founders considered to be more important.”

At the Democratic National Convention this year, the platform omitted a reference to God in its plank on human rights.

In 2008, the platform plank read, “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”

However, when the Democratic Party approved the platform language at their convention in Charlotte, they omitted the word “God” from the phrase as well as the entire document. The approved phrase read, “We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.”

The omission is significant, because one of the core foundational tenets of America is a belief that rights come from God rather than the government. If they come from God, then no one has the authority to take them away. But if a person’s rights come from government, they can be taken away by that same government.

When the issue became a political liability, the party held a hastily called meeting to reinstate the language.

After three voice votes that appeared to be split, chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, declared that the measure passed.

See the vote: