Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute, billed as Lakewood-based Colorado Christian University’s “think tank” and the annual host of the overtly partisan Republican Western Conservative Summit, Tweeted proudly today that he’s headed to Washington, D.C. for tomorrow’s March For Life anti-abortion rally along with dozens of CCU students–a rally taking on new significance after last summer’s repeal of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing abortion rights for all American citizens.
To commemorate the occasion, CCU registered a new trademark to serve as a branding tagline: “Pro-Life U.”
Although nominally a separate organization, the Centennial Institute is inextricably co-branded with Colorado Christian University, and regularly pushes the limits of its 501(c)(3) tax status in its unabashedly partisan Republican program that culminates in the annual Western Conservative Summit. But in the context of the ongoing national struggle over abortion rights, in which Colorado has emerged as a crucial bulwark for abortion rights and a haven for abortion care increasingly unavailable in other states, there’s another problem:
Colorado Christian University is funded in part by public education funds. Back in 2004, GOP Gov. Bill Owens signed the College Opportunity Fund legislation that re-allocated dwindling higher education funding to “follow the student.” As part of the dealmaking to get Republican support in the legislature for this rejiggering, CCU and Denver’s Catholic Regis University were included as eligible institutions for COF funding. This arrangement was challenged unsuccessfully in the 2008 Colorado Christian University v. Weaver case, which found that Colorado wasn’t required to exclude CCU by federal law.
But does that mean the taxpayers of Colorado are obligated to fund an institution actively working to undermine the state’s voter-affirmed policy on abortion rights? Is it possible that a supermajority of abortion rights supporters in the Colorado legislature someday might reasonably conclude that’s not a good use of taxpayer money?
The one thing we can say for sure is that the political landscape that allowed Colorado Christian University to suckle up on the taxpayer teat in 2004…looks very different today. In 2023, CCU receives taxpayer money while battling against the will of Colorado voters. And that doesn’t seem sustainable.