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Seventh-day Adventist Serves Colorado District 54 in House »
For Colorado Representative Matthew Soper, a Seventh-day Adventist from Delta, public service has always been a calling. After winning the election in 2018, he represents District 54 in the Colorado House of Representatives.
Growing up under the tutelage of his parents and great aunts and attending 5ththrough 8thgrade at the Adventist school in Delta, he learned to love God and to have compassion for fellow humans. He also developed a passion for public service. All of his experiences, he believes, gave him the foundation to be an effective state legislator.
Soper studied political science at Colorado Mesa University before earning his law degree and a master’s in public international law from the University of Edinburgh. After earning another master’s in intellectual property law from the University of New Hampshire, Soper believes that “studying law in both the UK and the US has helped tremendously as a representative because surprisingly few members have law backgrounds and having a deep knowledge of legal history and law has proven useful” in legislating key pieces of criminal justice reform.
With an Adventist background, Soper understands the importance of religious liberty and takes steps to insure its protection. He blocked an amendment that would allow Sundays to be exempt from bail setting hearings and pushed for an amendment that prevents state agencies from collecting specific religious information on people who have been granted a vaccine exemption based on religious faith. “Advocating for religious liberty is part of my role,” he says.
“Denver is not like DC in terms of partisan politics,” Soper asserts. Often, he finds himself debating a colleague on the floor in the morning and then co-presenting a bill in committee with the same colleague that afternoon. “Getting to know not only your side of the aisle, but the other side [as well] helps to build bridges. A sense of humor also helps,” he believes. “Politics is about personal relationships and members can respect each person,” he comments.
Being a Colorado representative is like being in a fishbowl, says Soper, “making it important to behave as a son of God and to be a steward in lawmaking.” While he doesn’t make a habit of talking about his religious faith, he does try to schedule political activities outside the Sabbath hours. That doesn’t always happen, he explains, but for him, attending church is important as it sets the tone for the coming week and helps him “refocus” his thoughts as well as spend time with his church family. He also finds time for God during his 15-minute walk to and from the Capitol, “spending it in prayer,” he says.
-- Carol Bolden; photo supplied