Born in 1968 to a single mother in Buffalo, New York, he was adopted at age 3 by Joanne and Carl Klingenschmitt, Roman Catholics who immediately had him baptized. He was raised in suburban Akron, New York.
Klingenschmitt graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a bachelor's degree in political science and from Regent University with a master's degree in divinity, a master's of business administration, and a doctor of philosophy in theology.
At the Air Force Academy, he attended a Pentecostal Bible study. Klingenschmitt was "born again" on December 13, 1986, when he "invited Jesus Christ to rule my heart in ways he had never previously done." He served in the United States Navy as a military chaplain, where he served on active duty in both Air Force and Navy for over 16 years and was honorably discharged.
Klingenschmitt ran for the 15th district seat in the Colorado House of Representatives in the 2014 elections. He received 70% of the vote in the general election to win the seat.
In 2014, Klingenschmitt said he received death threats, and a suspect was arrested for sending harassing messages.
Klingenschmitt hosts a national TV show PIJN NEWS that airs weekdays via Satellite on the National Religious Broadcasters network. His website, "The Pray In Jesus Name Project", helped deliver some 5,000,000 petitions to Congress for religious freedom, anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage causes. He remains ab affiliate faculty member teaching theology classes at Colorado Christian University in the division of Biblical Studies.
In 2006, when Klingenschmitt was a U.S. Navy Chaplain, he took a stand against a Navy policy that prohibited "sectarian" prayers in uniform outside of chapel. Original documents confirm that:1) His supervisor explained the Navy policy SECNAVINST 1730.7C by telling Klingenschmitt "if you pray in Jesus' name, you can be punished."
2) He not only already possessed the regulatory right of all Chaplains but also personally obtained prior written permission to wear his uniform during prayers.
3) Eyewitnesses confirmed he only read prayers in uniform, as he was permitted to do.
4) Klingenschmitt demanded his own misdemeanor trial, but the JAG (Navy Judge) elected to enforce 1730.7C against (p. 3) as the only policy behind the "lawfulness" on the grounds that "public worship" was protected, as opposed to "worshipping in public".
5) Hundreds of thousands of Americans, 29 groups and 70+ Congressmen petitioned the President on Klingenschmitt's behalf.
6) That same week, after Klingenschmitt personally met with his chief of staff, Senator John Warner made a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate to move that U.S. Senate chaplains be accorded the same rights as those of U.S. House of Representatives chaplains.
7) Congress ordered Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) to rescind the same policy that was enforced in his trial.
8) The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) rescinded 1730.7C.
In 2006, Klingenschmitt demanded his own court-martial in protest of being charged with disobedience of a lawful order issued by his commanding officer. He was found guilty and was punished with a reprimand and a fine with the fine being suspended. Congress later rescinded the policy which was being enforced during Klingenschmitt's trial.
Klingenschmitt sued in Federal Court claiming discrimination and a violation of his free speech rights. Judge Elaine D. Kaplan, an openly gay Obama appointee, dismissed the case. Klingenschmitt said he would appeal, adding: "Is anybody surprised that a new Obama appointee and liberal judge ruled that a Navy chaplain can be legally punished for his sermons, punished for writing to Congress, and punished for praying in Jesus’ name in uniform?"
Political and social views
During a 2005 appearance on MSNBC, Klingenschmitt noted that although he was at the time a chaplain paid by the Navy to talk to sailors about religion, the Navy no longer permitted him to use the name "Jesus" within those conversations or prayers. However, Islamic chaplains are not forbidden to pray to Allah, Jewish rabbis may make references to Hanukkah, and Catholic priests are permitted to refer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
During a 2012 appearance on The David Pakman Show, Klingenschmitt debated Jonathan Phelps, of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. Klingenschmitt is also known for his efforts to shut down the YouTube channel of one of his most vocal critics, Right Wing Watch, which uses video clips of his statements.
In 2012, Michael L. Weinstein sued Klingenschmitt for issuing an imprecatory prayer that he equated to a fatwa. The suit was dismissed by the judge, who stated that Weinstein failed to connect the prayer to any subsequent threats or actions against him. In 2014, Klingenschmitt said that openly gay U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) wanted to execute Christians; both political parties in Colorado have disavowed Klingenschmitt. He wrote about the spirits influencing President Barack Obama and argued that Obamacare causes people to lose access to cancer treatments.
In March 2015, in response to an assault where a woman from Longmont, Colorado, had her 34-week-old fetus cut out of her womb, said the incident was evidence of the "curse of God" for abortion. Other Republicans denounced Klingenschmitt's comments. Despite Klingenschmitt's apology and recanting of the remarks, he was removed from the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee for two weeks, and he voluntarily suspended his television ministry for six weeks.
In July 2015, Klingenschmitt responded to the Boy Scouts of America lifting their ban on gay scoutmasters by saying that this would lead to an increase in child molestation in the organization. The following month, Klingenschmitt reportedly stated that gays and pedophiles are influenced by different demons. In January 2017, he stated that gay men should be disqualified from teaching positions because of "their immorality."
After political adversaries complained without documentation that Klingenschmitt's non-profit religious charity successfully raised more than $850,000, "Klingenschmitt opened up his nonprofit's finances for scrutiny to The Gazette in an effort to be transparent after some questioned the finances of Persuade the World Ministries, which does business as Pray in Jesus Name Ministries. Klingenschmitt provided three years of tax returns, an audited financial statement and access to his certified public accountant.
The Gazette found Klingenschmitt doesn't accept a salary or other compensation from the charity, and he appears to be keeping the finances separate from his for-profit entity - which shares a website with the nonprofit and a similar name Pray in Jesus Name Project." The Gazette declared "There's nothing illegal about that, or even outside the realm of best practices for nonprofits that regularly hire outside companies to manage their fundraisers and finances."
In 2016, Klingenschmitt did not seek re-election to his seat in the House but instead ran for State Senate in District 12. He lost in the primary to fellow Republican Bob Gardner who went on to win the general election in November.