Attorney general to talk finer points of religious liberty cases

Colorado’s attorney general will share with faithful the sticky, legal issues surrounding religious freedom during a conference this month.

At the Gospel of Life Conference Oct. 25, John Suthers will deliver part two of a speech to a Catholic audience explaining the court battles and finer details of religious liberty issues in the United States.

“We’ve got some very ‘thorny’ free exercise of religion issues in this country that will be ironed out case-by-case over the next several years—the Hobby Lobby Case is a prime example,” Suthers told the Denver Catholic Register Sept. 17.

For-profit and nonprofit businesses fighting the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate, as required by the Affordable Care Act, is one of several topics he will address during the conference. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 June 30 that Hobby Lobby cannot be forced under the act to provide employers with morally-objectionable contraceptives.

Battles over religious liberty are not confined to the court room. Keynote speaker Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, will address the tactics of winning a battle that’s cultural.

Kreeft has authored more than 75 books, including one on the topic of his speech, “How to Win the Culture War.” He once said it’s important to acknowledge society is at war and to know the enemy and how to defeat him.

The purpose of the conference is to educate, encourage and equip faithful who are in the midst of such battles. It starts with a White Mass at Risen Christ Church to honor health care professionals, celebrated by Bishop Paul Etienne of the Cheyenne Diocese.

Suthers, who is concluding a 10-year term as state attorney general, will follow with his speech “Dissecting Obamacare II.”

In part one, he shared with an audience at Holy Ghost Church how the underlying issue in HHS mandate cases rests in the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

“This was the first time ever that Congress had suggested that they had power to order individual Americans to buy a product or service and that power was based on the Commerce Clause,” he explained about the HHS mandate.

He will give an update on the Little Sisters of the Poor and their case that nonprofits should not be required to provide contraceptives in health insurance.

“For the most part the nonprofit entities have been succeeding in litigation in the lower courts, and I have every reason to believe that they will succeed in the Supreme Court,” Suthers said.

Religious expression battles are also being fought by Catholic Charities in certain states over its refusal to adopt children to same-sex couples.

“I’ll talk about the Colorado law and some of the tensions that came about at the time of the passage of the domestic or civil union law that bears upon some of the activities of Catholic Charities,” he added.

Battles are also being fought among local businesses. The Lakewood Masterpiece cake shop owner is undergoing litigation for refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding. Suthers said he will discuss how public accommodation laws will likely prevail in such cases.

He will also discuss land use disputes between the city of Boulder and churches related to construction projects.

While he has his own Catholic beliefs about these issues, he said his job is to defend the law.

“I think my job, regardless of my personal beliefs, is to be the best lawyer I can be and make sure my public law office is comprised of the best lawyers (it) can be,” Suthers said. “These are tough issues. I certainly have personal beliefs about them but what positions we take as an office and I take as the attorney general are really dictated by the law.”

Suthers announced he is running for mayor in Colorado Springs after he leaves the office of attorney general in January. He has a home with his wife in Colorado Springs.

Gospel of Life Conference
This year’s conference “Mission Possible: Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis” will include keynote speakers Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, and John Suthers, Colorado attorney general.

When: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 a.m. Oct. 25
Where: Risen Christ Church, 3060S. Monaco Parkway
Tickets: $35 online, $40 at door
Email: or 303-742-0828


COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.