KUSA - Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs) is coming under fire for comments he made in a new episode of his televangelist show "Pray in Jesus Name" about the recent tragedy in Longmont in which a pregnant woman was attacked and her unborn child removed from the womb.
"This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb," Klingenschmitt said, attributing the attack in Longmont to legal policy on unborn children. "Part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open."
The former Navy chaplain then continues to pray for an "end to the holocaust which is abortion in America."
WATCH: Klingenschmitt's comments on Longmont stabbing: http://on9news.tv/1H0lnFg
Klingenschmitt didn't apologize for his remark when interviewed by 9NEWS Thursday, but did backpedal in an interview with this reporter, seeking repeatedly to downplay the meaning of his remark:
RITTIMAN: You essentially say that this woman got attacked because it was God's punishment for our laws on abortion, I mean would you look her in the eye and tell her you thought that's what happened to her?
KLINGENSCHMITT: Well, that's not what I said, first of all. I quoted the bible and I stand by the bible.
RITTIMAN: You keep saying that it's because you quoted the bible that you're getting this backlash, but that's not what I think is upsetting to people. I think what is upsetting to people is you are saying the bible instructs us that this was God's punishment for our laws. That this woman is bearing the brunt of God's wrath. Is that not what you were saying?
KLINGENSCHMITT: I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
RITTIMAN: You said you disagree with my interpretation of your remark, so what did you mean when you said it was God's wrath? That this was an example of God's wrath?KLINGENSCHMITT: I think you'll have to play the original tape.
WEB EXTRA: Brandon Rittiman interviews Klingenschmitt: http://on9news.tv/1FNJA4F
His fellow House Republicans aren't at all happy.
"We don't want it representing the other members of this caucus and the Republican party at large across the state," said assistant house minority leader Polly Lawrence, who added that the leadership doesn't have many options to punish Klingenschmitt because he's a duly elected member of the house.
Asked whether Klingenschmitt is being taken off of either of his two committee assignments, Lawrence replied "not yet."
Former minority leader Mark Waller, who used to represent Klingenschmitt's district, had earlier called for his successor to either step down or quit doing his show as a firebrand television preacher.
After this incident, he simply thinks that Klingenschmitt should resign from the Colorado legislature.
"It's probably time for him to step down," Waller said. "I can only imagine what's going to happen when the mother of this unborn child sees a government official, an elected official's response to why her baby was killed."
Waller added that Klingenschmitt is hurting his own cause and is harming efforts to enact some sort of fetal homicide law that could clearly make murder charges apply in a case like the one in Longmont.
The remarks drew swift criticism from Democrats.
"I think this statement is reprehensible and disrespectful," House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Democrat, said in a statement . "Given the sensitive nature of the events, as well as respect for the victim and her family, I'm not going to comment any further."
Steve House, the new chairman of the Colorado GOP, was less critical in his statement.
"Gordon has the right to exercise his First Amendment protection of free speech," House said in a written statement. "Gordon does not speak on behalf of the Colorado Republican Party and to suggest otherwise would be inaccurate and dishonest."
Others at the state Capitol were left to wonder how Klingenschmitt thought he could make the remarks without public backlash.
"It's so disrespectful to the victims," said one political operative in the state capitol. "Does [Klingenschmitt] not think that the Internet works in the building?"
The comments were preceded by Klingenschmitt citing a Biblical verse in which the "people of Samaria" are punished for rebelling against their God by having "their pregnant women ripped open," Klingenschmitt speculates that the verse might have "prophetic significance to America today."
WATCH: The full episode of Klingenschmitt's program: http://bit.ly/1M5viA9
In the show, Rep. Klingenschmitt goes by the persona "Dr. Chaps" and comments on current events from a conservative Christian perspective, often in abrasive style, a second job that made him the source of scrutiny when he first became a state lawmaker.
Prosecutors are considering murder charges in the stabbing case but will not announce a decision until Friday when the suspect is next due in court.
Klingenschmitt focused on this issue early in the segment, correctly pointing out that Colorado law only applies "murder" when committed against a person. Colorado law does not confer personhood upon unborn fetuses.
In a rare example of direct advocacy for changes to Colorado law through his donation-funded television program, Klingenschmitt calls the Longmont attack a "horrific crime" and said that it "calls for a fix in the Colorado legislature," a body of which he is now a member.
"Colorado law is not protecting that baby and Colorado law needs to change," Klingenschmitt continued.
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