At the end of last month, Colorado Christian University’s think tank, the Centennial Institute, sent an email on “transgenderism phenomena,” describing the existence of transgender people as “one of the great moral struggles of our day” and promoting the appearance of ardent transphobe and ephebophilia defender Matt Walsh at this year’s Western Conservative Summit, an annual gathering of conservatives sponsored by the Centennial Institute.

The appearance of Walsh at the flagship event of the Centennial Institute, which promotes itself as “mobilizing ideas on faith, family, and freedom to strengthen America’s future,” was no surprise as the think tank has long been a source of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in Colorado.

In August, Jeff Hunt, the director of the Centennial Institute, introduced a petition in opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act. “The deceptively titled ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ attempts to make marriage genderless, standing in direct contrast to Christian values, threatens traditional morality, and undermines states’ ability to determine their own standards based upon the beliefs and mores of their society,” read the petition. “Please ask your Senator to vote ‘NO’ on H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act.”

The Respect for Marriage Act passed in the U.S. Senate last week with bipartisan support.

The Centennial Institute doesn’t conceal its opposition to transgender people and gay marriage. A 2012 CCU news release notes ”the University is committed to its conservative evangelical stance on the homosexual issue.”

Last year The Denver Post reported that Journey Mueller, a former CCU student who claimed the school practiced conversion therapy, joined a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, asking the agency to better protect LGBTQ students at taxpayer-funded, religiously affiliated educational institutions.

In supporting its conservative evangelical stance on the homosexual issue, CCU has platformed some of the strongest voices driving anti-trans legislation and policies across the nation. In Februrary of 2021, Hunt welcomed Abigail Shrier, the author of Irreversible Damage: the Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters, as part of CCU’s “distinguished” lecture series. Shrier’s book uses bunk science to make a political argument about trans people. Shrier promotes the idea of “rapid onset gender dysphoria,” the theory that suggests increasing instances of young people identifying as transgender are simply a result of social contagion. The concept first appeared in a 2018 study in Public Library of Science, but was widely criticized by academics and scientists. The journal issued a correction and an apology, but not before the discredited study was seized upon by every pundit looking to justify the editorial position that trans people are icky.

The idea that trans identities are a form of social contagion is an argument used by Walsh, whose response to Sunday’s mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs — which claimed the lives of Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh, and Raymond Green Vance — was to tweet, “Leftists are using a mass shooting to try and blackmail us into accepting the castration and sexualization of children. These people are just beyond evil. I have never felt more motivated to oppose everything they stand for, with every fiber of my being. Despicable scumbags.”

Hunt’s advocacy for Walsh, who backed failed GOP candidate Heidi Ganahl, and Shrier is in keeping with the Centennial Institute’s tradition of platforming harmful and unscientific ideologues who support its “conservative evangelical stance” on a variety of issues. In 2017, CCU featured Dr. Christian Thurstone, the director of Denver Health’s STEP program, as part of its “distinguished” speaker series. In 2013, Thurstone told Denver Westword, “It seems like people are doing more and more to get a deeper high and presenting to us more and more addiction to marijuana. I worry that might be a next step toward the injection of THC.”

Dr. Christian Thurstone of Denver Health.

An investigation by the Colorado Times Recorder found that Thurstone regularly referred teen clients to Enthusiastic Sobriety programs FullCircle and Cornerstone, which survivors have described as a “cult” with a culture of racism and homophobia that isolates teens and pushes them into $10,000 intensive out-patient programs.

CCU, which rallied support behind the Colorado baker who discriminated against a gay couple, also regularly hosts extremists, like antisemitic Pizzagate conspiracist Jack Posobiec and Charles Murray, the Bell Curve author whose work links race to intelligence.

In August CCU hosted Seth Gruber, an anti-abortion activist who claimed that trans people were actually an aspect of Gnostic dualism, a heresy of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin, that is often used interchangeably with the concept of Satanism, and which features prominently in the QAnon movement.