SERIES: Church and State

One of four allegorical murals toward the top of the Statehouse keeps watch on lawmakers and the public. Knowledge is the woman in the center with Temperance on the left and Religion on the right

Kansas Reflector’s church and state series made waves. Here’s a guide to commentary it inspired.

BY: - June 5, 2023

When editor Sherman Smith and reporter Rachel Mipro set out to report and write the church and state series for Kansas Reflector, each had different thoughts about how their stories might land. Mipro, who started work for us in September, told us in this week’s podcast that she imagined a strong response from readers. Smith, […]

Adam Peters testifies via video on Feb. 1, 2023, before a legislative committee.

Revelations of religious zealotry infiltrating Kansas politics raise alarms near and far

BY: - May 24, 2023

Kansas Reflector’s comprehensive series on religion in public life keeps making waves. Throughout the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen multiple news outlets pick up our reporting for their audiences. Politicians have taken note. Those at the center of the story have pushed back. In all cases, readers can see why compelling, fact-based journalism makes […]


Religious bullies in Kansas politics fantasize about being victims of the left. Don’t fall for it.

BY: - May 22, 2023

The epic church and state series published last week by Kansas Reflector shocked and surprised me. Sure, I understood the radical agenda and anti-democratic goals of religious extremists in my beloved state. But I hadn’t appreciated the way a group of fervent bullies — folks wanting to drive people with different beliefs out of the […]

Church and state: Devotion infuses Kansas Legislature, with spiritual adviser and daily prayers

BY: - May 20, 2023

TOPEKA — Dave DePue, a pastor and director of the Kansas Capitol Commission, smiled in the background as Rep. Emil Bergquist’s voice bounced around the Statehouse rotunda during his baritone rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.” Bergquist, along with state Treasurer Steven Johnson and Wellington Republican Rep. Bill Rhiley, led prayers during the May 4 prayer […]

Progeny executive director Marquetta Atkins

Church and state: Kansas Republicans reject systemic racism while fighting critical race theory

BY: - May 19, 2023

WICHITA — When Marquetta Atkins was 7 or 8 years old and the subject of slavery came up at school, she was the only Black child in the classroom. Everyone would turn and look at her as though she were a slave. “If I can be subjected to something like that, why can’t your kids […]

Kevan Myers, left, of Kansas City, Kansas, and Clifton Boje, of Bonner Springs, protest outside the House chamber ahead of the State of the Judiciary speech in January

Church and state: Kansas Republicans ignore voters and pass new anti-abortion laws

BY: - May 18, 2023

TOPEKA — Torn between his Catholic faith and commitment to public service, Rep. Henry Helgerson struggled to keep his composure as he spoke to colleagues from the House floor near the end of this year’s legislative session. The Eastborough Democrat referenced an avalanche of anti-abortion legislation produced by Republicans in defiance of voters who rejected […]

Republican governor candidate Derek Schmidt blamed Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly for academic and mental health challenges of K-12 students and for a shortage of teachers in Kansas classrooms. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Church and state: Kansas Republicans justify private school handouts with fear of ‘woke ideology’

BY: - May 17, 2023

TOPEKA — Adam Peters, GOP chairman in Ellis County, draws a parallel between the average Kansas fourth-grader and Janissaries of the 16th century Ottoman feudal system. The Ottoman empire ripped Christian children from their parents, raised the children as Muslims and turned them into elite warriors, sometimes sending them back to fight their own families. […]

Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen appears at the March 31, 2023, rally of 200 transgender kids and their allies at the Statehouse in Topeka

Church and state: Kansas Republicans target ’eminently exploitable’ LGBTQ community

BY: - May 16, 2023

TOPEKA — Shouting into a bullhorn from the south steps of the Capitol, Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen told a throng of transgender kids: “You belong here.” The Topeka pastor assured them they have allies in the Statehouse who were working to change the minds of transphobic politicians. “But you gotta help us out,” Schlingensiepen said. “Wherever […]

Members of the Senate, seen here in May 2021, and House begin daily sessions with invocation from a chaplain

Church and state: Republicans revel in divine plan to turn Kansas into ‘conservative sanctuary’

BY: - May 15, 2023

TOPEKA — Adam Peters laced his sermon for Reno County Republicans with conspiracy theories about a liberal plot to turn their children against them, LGBTQ-friendly church pastors who signed a contract with Satan, the ubiquitous travesty of critical race theory, and make-believe enemies working to “foment violent conflict.” Peters, the GOP chairman in Ellis County […]