Among the scheduled speakers at this year’s annual Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference is Kevin Swanson, a Colorado pastor, evangelical radio host, and political operative, who believes that the death penalty is an appropriate “punishment” for the “crime” of being gay.
“Yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. Yes, Romans, Chapter 1, Verse 32, the apostle Paul does say that homosexuals are worthy of death! His words, not mine! And I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ! … And I know I have taken the counsel; many have told me this weekend, “You be careful! You choose your words carefully! We have presidential [hopefuls] coming down to this conference this weekend!” I understand that. But I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail for it.”Kevin Swanson, Nov. 7, 2013, National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines, IA
Ransom and Martin are scheduled to moderate a breakout session at the conference entitled “Conversation Cafe — Engaging in the Battle for the Biblical Founding of America.”
All three speakers have long histories as advocates for homeschooling.
Carolyn Martin, is listed on the conference website as the Director of Government Relations for Christian Home Educators of Colorado. She worked as a registered lobbyist for that organization from 2015 until late 2020.
While she still works at the state Capitol during the legislative session as policy director for Luck, she is no longer registered as a lobbyist. The conference website does not list her current employment as a legislative political aide, but does mention that “this has been Carolyn’s fifth session keeping the watch at the Capitol in Denver over our homeschooling freedoms, parental rights, and religious liberty.”
First elected to her seat in 2014, Ransom is a current member of the Joint Budget and House Appropriations committees in the Colorado legislature. She has previously served on House Education and Health committees.
Swanson’s radio show debuted on Colorado airwaves in 2003, and he has garnered attention for his ultraconservative, controversial opinions based on a biblical worldview and his antagonistic role as a troll. Critics have called him a “shock pastor.”
He advocates for male-led families and churches, and rails against feminism and homosexuality.
He has promoted all three ill-fated Personhood initiatives in Colorado, including the first in the nation in 2008, co-sponsored by then-teenager and now-chair of the state GOP, Kristi Burton Brown.
Swanson, who ran for a U.S. Senate seat and for Colorado governor, has also denounced Girl Scouts of the USA in 2013 for “supporting lesbianism” and being “antithetical to a biblical vision for womanhood.”
He continued, “In fact, if you want a communist in the White House in the year 2020 you have got to get more daughters raised with the worldview, the independent mindset, the worldview that is presented by the Girl Scouts of America.”
Following catastrophic flooding in Boulder County and other front range communities in 2013, Swanson suggested that the legalization of marijuana, abortion, and “decadent homosexual activity” were possibly indirect causes for the devastation, presumably by incurring God’s wrath.
Swanson had former Alabama Supreme Court Justice and candidate for U.S. Senate, Roy Moore (R-AL) as a frequent guest on his radio show, before Moore was exposed for inappropriate sexual misconduct with a minor during his failed Senate campaign. Previously, Moore had been removed from his seat on the state Supreme Court twice for judicial misconduct.
In November 2015, Swanson organized the National Religious Liberties Conference, held in DesMoines, Iowa, where 3 presidential candidates –Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal — appeared from the campaign trail, embracing his hardline audience and messaging.
It was Swanson’s speech at that conference where he cited New and Old Testament scripture to encourage capital punishment for homosexuality and encouraged parents of gay children to protest their same-sex weddings by covering themselves in cow manure at the entrance to the venue.
Cruz had attended the National Religious Liberties Conference with his father, Rafael, a pastor and speaker at the conference, who once claimed that gay marriage was a government conspiracy to destroy the family.
But Kevin Swanson’s controversial rhetoric has precipitated prominent speakers withdrawing from other conferences were Swanson was scheduled to appear.
In 2018, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) withdrew from giving a keynote at another Christian conference organized by Swanson in Washington DC, saying that when he agreed to attend and speak at the conference he hadn’t known about Swanson’s participation, nor had he heard of Swanson’s anti-gay rhetoric.
Before being elected to Congress, Johnson had established himself as an anti-LGBTQ activist, working as a senior attorney and spokesman for Alliance Defending Freedom, receiving an award from Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, and affiliating with Kyle Duncan, a Fifth Circuit Court judge who was appointed by Trump following a career of representing anti-LGBTQ positions as an attorney.
In 2015, Christian Home Educators of Colorado organized the Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family in Denver. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, celebrity parents of the reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting” withdrew from that conference after a child molestation scandal involving their son, Josh.
With just two weeks before the Rocky Mountain Homeschooling Conference kicks off, it appears that all scheduled speakers and presenters are still on board.
A spokeswoman for Ransom responded to an inquiry as to whether she will consider withdrawing from the conference due to Swanson’s participation, saying, “Rep. Ransom will be attending the conference because of her longstanding support of homeschooling.”
Carolyn Martin did not respond to an email request for comment about her participation in this year’s conference.
Swanson still appears on the website as a featured speaker for this year’s conference. He has also participated in previous years.