Just get a little vanilla latte into Rob Brendle's system, and the associate pastor of Colorado's largest evangelical Christian congregation is ready to rack 'em and crack 'em.
As Pastor Ted Haggard's sidekick, Brendle preaches on Saturday nights at the decidedly political, 14,000-member New Life Church in northeastern Colorado Springs. An adviser to the Springs-based National Association of Evangelicals, he has no qualms about mixing his religion with his conservative politics.
Though federal law prohibits pastors from endorsing individual candidates from the pulpit, Brendle recently offered his personal endorsement in the Republican primary in Colorado's 5th Congressional District to Jeff Crank, who lost to Doug Lamborn.
Brendle recently shared a broad range of his worldviews, from gay marriage to sex-change operations to the politics of conservative preaching.
Indy: Are you going to support Doug Lamborn?
RB: Oh man, you asked me a hard question. Let's go off the record for a minute so I can purge my soul ...
(10 minutes later) I approach politics from an ideological standpoint; I don't vote for a candidate based on his personality, I support a candidate for his philosophy of governance. Personalities come and go. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were colorful personalities the same was true with Bush and Gore, Johnson and Kennedy. Throughout American history, I...
Indy: (Interrupting) OK, so are you going to be able to support Lamborn?
RB: Um, yes. Doug shares, um, most every political position that I hold and can ably represent those positions.
Indy: What is the "radical homosexual lobby"?
RB: Perhaps it is the political movement to take a lifestyle that is a fringe of the fringe, demographically speaking, and normalize it. It's using the law to force you and me to realize an ideology that is demographically fringe, and trying to use the law to make it mainstream. I don't think it is trying to homosexualize everybody,
Indy: What about gay marriage? Why shouldn't committed gay couples be allowed to marry?
RB: I would argue the Constitution does [allow] a homosexual to marry consenting adults of opposite sex. And I defend the right for a gay person to marry a consenting member of the opposite sex.
Indy: So would you support the marriage if a partner got a sex-change operation?
RB: That's too sophisticated for me. I live in Colorado Springs; I get nervous around tall buildings.
Indy: Why is New Life Church so involved in politics?
RB: Why wouldn't we be? The burden of reason isn't on us for our involvement; every citizen in America is well-advised to be involved in the political system. The burden of reason is on you to tell me that Christians shouldn't be involved in the political system.
Indy: I was actually thinking about the recent New York Times story about the evangelical pastor of a megachurch in Minnesota who just said no to mixing politics with religion in his church ...
RB: I respect his preference to not be political. If he chooses to forfeit his consenting role, I wouldn't deprive him, but I don't think that's the best thing. When people willingly politically neuter themselves, that's lunacy. As soon as we do that, welcome Politburo.
Note: A version of this interview also appears at ColoradoConfidential.com, a project of the Center for Independent Media, where the author is currently serving as a fellow.