The Washington Post
By Timothy Bella
For years, Bob Enyart used his conservative media platform in Denver to mock those who died of AIDS by name or call for women who receive abortions to face the death penalty. Recently, the radio talk-show host — who had successfully sued the state over mask mandates and capacity limits in Colorado churches last year — joined a chorus of conservative voices who have bashed the coronavirus vaccine and vowed to stay unvaccinated.
In Enyart’s case, he pushed for boycotting vaccination because of the debunked claim that the vaccines were developed using aborted fetal cells.
“While it is not inherently sinful to take an immorally-developed” vaccine, he wrote on his website last month, Enyart urged people to “boycott” the vaccines “to further increase social tension and put pressure on the child killers.”
But weeks after he and his wife, Cheryl, tested positive for the virus after being unvaccinated, Enyart died of covid-19, his radio co-host announced Monday. Enyart was 62.
“It comes with an extremely heavy heart that my close friend and co-host of Real Science Radio has lost his battle with Covid,” Fred Williams said in a Facebook post. “Bob Enyart was one of the smartest, and without question, the wisest person I’ve known.”
The Jefferson County Coroner confirmed to The Washington Post that Enyart had died. The coroner was unable to say when he died or provide an official cause of death, citing privacy issues. An official with the coroner’s office said the hospital where he was being treated had yet to sign the death certificate as of early Tuesday.
Cheryl Enyart and other family members did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On Facebook on Monday, she posted a picture of what appeared to be her holding her husband’s hand with a caption that read, “Enyart Strong.”
Messages left for Williams, KMOV, the radio station that airs their show, and Denver Bible Church, where Bob Enyart was pastor since 2000, were not immediately returned.
Enyart is at least the fifth conservative radio talk-show host to have died of covid-19 in the last six weeks after speaking out against vaccinations and masking. The others are Marc Bernier, 65, a longtime host in Florida; Phil Valentine, 61, a popular host in Tennessee; Jimmy DeYoung, 81, a nationally syndicated Christian preacher also based in Tennessee; and Dick Farrel, 65, who had worked for stations in Miami and Palm Beach, Fla., as well as for the conservative Newsmax TV channel.
The Denver host’s comments are another example of talk radio being an often-overlooked space for coronavirus misinformation. In the weeks and months leading up to their deaths, all five men had publicly shared their opposition to science-based health efforts when coronavirus infections were spiking.
Enyart espoused the abortion claim that had gained traction on social media last year, according to a December report on misinformation from the nonprofit News Literacy Project. Earlier this year, some Catholic leaders who were engaged in philosophical debates on how central the use of fetal cell lines were in the production of the vaccines came out to say the shots were moral and essential in the fight to save lives. The lines in question were essentially reproductions of fetal cells from abortions done in the 1970s and 1980s, and the vaccines themselves don’t contain fetal cells.
Born in January 1959, Enyart grew up in New Jersey. He designed software for Army helicopters and worked as a computer analyst for Microsoft before pivoting to the church and talk radio, according to a biography on his website. Enyart also served as a spokesman for the anti-abortion group American Right to Life.
Enyart, a self-described “right-wing religious fanatic” who began broadcasting around 1991, built up an audience on talk radio’s extremist fringe, airing more than 6,000 radio and TV shows across 80 cities, according to his website. His appeal was built, in part, through debatable, crude and sometimes hateful acts toward the LGBTQ community. He once accused an openly gay radio veteran of endangering fellow employees by inviting his hepatitis-stricken partner to a staff picnic, according to a 1999 profile in Westword.
On his defunct TV show, Enyart “used to gleefully read obituaries of AIDS sufferers while cranking ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen,” Westword reported. Freddie Mercury, the band’s lead singer, died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 45.
“Listen to the words of that song, and you’ll understand why I did it,” Enyart told the outlet at the time.
The longtime opponent of abortion picketed the homes of doctors who performed the treatment and repeatedly called for women who received an abortion to be sentenced to the death penalty. He was once arrested in New Zealand in 1999 for having a banner that read, “Clinton is a Rapist,” the Denver Post reported.
When it came to the coronavirus, Enyart promoted falsehoods about the virus, masking and vaccination on his show, “Real Science Radio,” website and social media pages.
In August 2020, his church in Wheat Ridge, Colo., joined Community Baptist Church in Brighton, Colo., to sue state and federal authorities over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches that Enyart considered to be unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico, an appointee under President Donald Trump, ruled in the churches’ favor in what was a rare legal victory against the broad public health mandates implemented during the pandemic.
“The Constitution does not allow the State to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant’s or spa’s,” Domenico wrote in his order.
About a year after the legal victory, earlier this month, Denver Bible Church announced on Facebook that the Enyarts had tested positive for the coronavirus. The church noted that while the Enyarts had received “overwhelmingly favorable” support from the community, a few people who had reached out about the unvaccinated couple were “desperately Cruel and Sad.”
“Pastor Bob and Cheryl are in the hospital in good hands and improving daily. We anticipate and pray for a Full recovery,” the church wrote on Sept. 4. “We both grieve and Rejoice together during this challenging time.”
Williams, who wrote that he has been the radio program’s co-host for 15 years and done more than 750 shows, described Enyart as “exceedingly kind and humble, and always, always willing to listen and discuss anything you wanted.” When he was asked by KUSA for some thoughts on his best friend and mentor, Williams indicated that Enyart wouldn’t have changed course from his beliefs.
“I’m sure he’d do the same thing all over again,” he said, according to the outlet.
Paul Farhi contributed to this report.