Speaker Carroll's startling religiosity

"In ministry"? "Saving lost souls"? Come again, Mr. Speaker? State Rep. Terrance Carroll (D-Denver), who officially became Speaker of the Colorado House today, is quoted to startling effect by Rocky Mountain News columnist Bill Johnson about the continuity of these new responsibilities with his previous life as a Christian minister. "It's all the same thing," he said of the church and [a stint in CU] police work, "saving lost souls." Next would come a law degree from the University of Denver and associate pastor stints at both New Hope and Macedonia Baptist churches. "I still consider myself in ministry, even here," Terrance Carroll said, pointing to the House chamber. "We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give sight to the blind, care for widows and orphans. Yes, that's a big function of what we do here."

Leaving aside the debatable (but for a liberal Democrat like Carroll, predictable) assumption that welfare is government's main job, the evangelical overtones here clash with the proper stance of government in our state and country as pluralistic and religiously neutral.

I like the new Speaker and expect good things from him, but this statement is ill-judged and highly inappropriate from someone in his position.

My own faith in Christ is central in all that I do, and while in the legislature I tried (with imperfect success, as many would tell you) to live it daily. But if I had ever talked this way while serving as Senate President in 2003-2005, I would have been barbecued to a crisp by Democrats and the media -- and deservedly so.

It will be interesting to see if a correction is forthcoming from Terrance Carroll, and if political watchdogs call upon him for the same strict separation between lawmaking and soul-saving that they would have demanded from me or any Republican.