Archive for the ‘Dave Welch’ Category

Going to Her Base

February 16, 2012

Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, is trying to lock up her religious-right base in her race for re-election this year. In an email today, the right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council is touting Cargill’s planned speech on March 1 at the Montgomery County Pastor Luncheon:

“The Texas State Board of Education has been in the national media repeatedly in the past several years over our stand for protecting history textbooks from political correctness, teaching both strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian Evolutionary Theory, and now over the assault by allies of Planned Parenthood to undermine Abstinence Based sex education.

Hon. Barbara Cargill is now the SBOE Chairman and one of the courageous conservatives who has withstood intense attacks by anti-religious groups such as Texas Freedom Network, ACLU and others. YOU NEED TO HEAR FROM HER as to why there is such a battle for control over Texas education and what we need to do this year!”

TFN is an “anti-religious group”? That would certainly surprise the clergy leaders who serve on our board as well as the hundreds of others who participate in our Texas Faith Network.

We do, however, oppose the religious right’s use of faith as a political weapon. That’s why we called out Cargill when she declared that there were only “six true conservative Christians” on a State Board of Education in which nearly all of the 15 members are Christians and certainly more than six are “conservative.”

It’s also why we have called out the head of the Houston Area Pastor Council, Dave Welch, when he has said such vile things as this during the State Board of Education’s 2010 debate over an anti-Muslim resolution:

“Once again, my guns are aimed at the pathetic preachers, pitiful pastors and compromised clergy that TFN, AU, ACLU and their ilk trot out as props for their leftist agendas. They disgust me. Their list of ‘nearly 100 religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths’ who signed a letter opposing the resolution represents a tiny cadre of liberals who have all rejected the fundamentals of their own faiths…. It was my joy to testify at the hearing and represent the hundreds of ‘real’ pastors around this state we speak for as well as all those who share our values but have not yet suited up for the game.”

We hope the lunch is nice, Ms. Cargill. Please say “hi” to Pastor Welch for us.

Follow the candidates and issues in this year’s State Board of Education elections on TFN’s special SBOE Election Watch page here.

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More Gay-Bashing in Houston Elections

October 24, 2011

Dave Welch, head of the religious–right group Houston Area Pastor Council, is obsessed with homosexuality and, especially, Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. As Houstonians prepare to head to the polls for local elections next month, Welch is promoting a web video about Mayor Parker’s “GLBT agenda for Houston.” The video includes various clips and quotes from Parker, who is seeking re-election. Repeated twice (and in slow-motion) is a scene in which the mayor leans over to (gasp!) peck her life-partner on the cheek on inauguration day a couple of years ago. The video treats that touching and very G-rated moment almost as if the audience had witnessed a live, woman-on-woman porn scene on stage. (Mayors gone wild!) In today’s email promoting the video, Welch shrieks that Houston has become a “sin-sick” city:

It is astounding to have to say that most Houston citizens – including most Christians and pastors – are still unaware of the radical nature of Mayor Annise Parker’s commitment to imposing the full “San Francisco Style” Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, etc. agenda. … We have a sin-sick city and we need the power of God through Jesus Christ changing lives and changing City Hall!

As hate-videos go, this one is relatively tame. But it’s filled with the usual kind of out-of-context quotes, supposed-to-be-scary innuendos and other nonsense we’ve come to expect from the religious right. Houstonians rejected this kind of bigotry when they elected Parker as their mayor two years ago, and Welch has never gotten over it. So he’s trotting out the same poisonous and divisive rhetoric again.

More Extremist Gay-Baiting in Houston

October 5, 2011

The far-right Houston Area Pastor Council is still trying to stir up anti-gay bigotry down on the Gulf Coast. An email blast from the extremist group today calls on pastors to attend a “‘Stand for Houston’ Citywide Pastor Luncheon” on Oct. 11:

There has never been a more important time for the pastors of Houston to follow our Lord’s directive corporately to ” ‘Come now, and let us reason together’, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Nothing wrong with that, of course. But the email includes a more explicit reason to attend the so-called “Emergency Summit on Defense of Life, Family and Religious Liberty”:

Did you know that there are multiple city council candidates from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community running to achieve a GLBT majority? More details at the luncheon.

Ah. Using fear and bigotry to crowd-build. How nice.

We have noted HAPC head Dave Welch’s obsession with homosexuality in the past. In December, for example, he criticized pastors for what he sees as their indifference to “moral perversion and sin flowing from our city hall through the radical agenda of Mayor Parker and her GLBTQIA allies.” Welch calls Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay, a “sodomite” and during the 2009 city elections joined other Parker opponents in warning of a “gay takeover” of Houston’s municipal government.

Welch also attacks the faith and patriotism of clergy who don’t agree with his extremist politics and refuse to drag their houses of worship into political warfare. His view of progressive clergy? “They disgust me.”

We figure the feeling is mutual.

Appalling Arrogance

July 29, 2011

Need any more evidence that Gov. Rick Perry’s August 6 prayer event in Houston really isn’t intended to unite Americans in support of our nation? Dave Welch of the far-right Texas Pastor Council sent out a militant email on Monday insisting that the event be for Christians only. Welch dishonestly characterizes the alternative as a “polytheistic approach and … interfaith event that requires Christians to squelch the mention of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

If that isn’t incendiary enough, Welch also defends the governor’s decision to ask a hate group, the American Family Association, to organize the event.

And if you don’t agree with Welch? Well, then this is what he thinks of you:

“The bottom line is that the only winners if Christians don’t pack out Reliant Stadium on August 6 will be enemies of Christ; those who espouse the liberal and unconstitutional view of separation of God and government and their allies.”

The real bottom line is that the religious right is not just willing to use faith as a divisive political weapon. Its leaders also have no problem attacking the faith of anyone who disagrees with them.

No Religious Test… Except for Muslims

February 15, 2011

In case you missed it, last week The Daily Show ran a funny piece on the battle over the re-election of Joe Straus as speaker of the Texas House. The show poked fun at the “miracle” of electing a Jewish speaker in a famously Christian land like Texas. And predictably, they found plenty of religious discrimination and rank hypocrisy in Texas, only it was directed at another minority religious group — American Muslims.

When correspondent John Oliver went looking for a useful bigot, Dave Welch of the right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council proved himself more than happy to oblige. Oliver asked — tongue in cheek —  “Can we at least agree that we don’t want a Muslim speaker?” To which a smug Welch replied:

“I would say right now, yes, for a variety of reasons. Again, we have deep concerns about the loyalty of Muslims to the Constitution.”

Wait a minute.

Last time I checked, the Constitution pretty clearly states “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States” (Article VI, paragraph 3).

Somebody isn’t being loyal to the Constitution, alright. But it isn’t American Muslims.

Click here to watch the full clip.

More ‘Perversion’ from Dave Welch

December 2, 2010

“I will be very candid in asking a question of the pastors of Houston – are we collectively more upset about moral perversion and sin flowing from our city hall through the radical agenda of Mayor Parker and her GLBTQIA allies as we are about being taxed? Are we more grieved about the late term pre-born babies now being murdered in greater numbers in our backyard as about our budgets?”

— An excerpt from an e-mail today from the Houston Area Pastor Council’s Dave Welch, who just can’t get over the choice of city voters to elect an openly lesbian mayor last year.

Dave Welch Calls Judge a ‘Domestic Enemy’

October 19, 2010

Dave Welch, the extremist who runs an outfit called the Houston Area Pastor Council, is now claiming that a federal judge who recently ruled against the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gay military servicemembers is a “domestic enemy” guilty of treason. From his screed at the right-wing, conspiracy-peddling website World Net Daily:

“U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips fired a judicial IED [improvised explosive device] directly into the effectiveness, readiness and moral of our military in a time of war makes this, in my non-legal opinion, an act of treason. . . . She has proven herself not only unfit for judgeship but is in fact a ‘domestic enemy’ of the very kind our military members take an oath to defend against.”

Portraying the ruling from Judge Phillips an example of “tyranny,” Welch claims her decision represents a “complete and utter rejection of the U.S. Constitution, the separation of powers and rule by the ‘consent of the governed.'” Of course, Judge Phillips sees the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a violation of servicemembers’ constitutional rights to due process, freedom of speech and the right to petition the government. Yet Welch says the judge should be impeached — a direct political threat to the ability of the judiciary to independently decide whether our nation’s laws are valid under the Constitution.

But perhaps the most repulsive part of Welch’s extremist screed is toward the end, when he suggests God will punish America if the policy against gay military servicemembers is ultimately overturned. In other words, when all else fails, Welch once again uses faith as a political weapon to divide Americans. Is anyone surprised?

You might recall that Welch’s group hosted an event featuring Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott last year. The event came just days after Welch posted another Internet screed attacking the faith of Christians who don’t share his political beliefs, calling them “CINOs,” or “Christians in name only.” Welch has every right to publicize his odious opinions, of course. But it’s a tragedy when public officials not only fail to renounce that kind of religious bigotry, but also seek the approval of the person promoting it.

Manipulating the Faithful

October 12, 2010

You have to wonder how religious-right activists justify breaking the biblical commandment against lying so often. Dave Welch of the Houston Area Pastor Council seems to play fast and loose with the truth almost routinely. The latest example: Welch’s group is disingenuously warning Houston voters that a streets and drainage measure on the city ballot in November is really a political attack on churches. The Texas Freedom Network takes no position on the measure — it is outside our mission — but we once again note Welch’s efforts to manipulate people of faith with grossly misleading charges.

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A Shrill Voice of Bigotry

September 25, 2010

One of the shrillest voices of religious bigotry in Texas, Dave Welch of a far-right group called Texas Pastors Council, is trumpeting yesterday’s approval of a State Board of Education resolution attacking Islam (a resolution suggesting that wealthy Muslims are investing in publishing companies so they can take over the minds of American schoolchildren). In a post on the conspiracy-peddling website WorldNetDaily, Welch repeats his insulting claim during the state board debate yesterday that he speaks for “real pastors.” And he specifically attacks clergy who are standing up to bigotry in Texas:

“Once again, my guns are aimed at the pathetic preachers, pitiful pastors and compromised clergy that TFN, AU, ACLU and their ilk trot out as props for their leftist agendas. They disgust me. Their list of ‘nearly 100 religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths’ who signed a letter opposing the resolution represents a tiny cadre of liberals who have all rejected the fundamentals of their own faiths. . . . It was my joy to testify at the hearing and represent the hundreds of ‘real’ pastors around this state we speak for as well as all those who share our values but have not yet suited up for the game.”

In some ways it’s refreshing to see religious-right leaders like Welch openly embrace their bigotry rather than insult the intelligence of everyone else by denying the prejudice evident in so much of their vicious rhetoric. Welch’s inflammatory words simply make clear the religious right’s contempt for people of faith who don’t share the movement’s radical, intolerant and divisive political agenda for America.

Board Takes Up Anti-Muslim Measure

September 24, 2010

The Texas State Board of Education is about to take up a proposed resolution attacking Islam and claiming that social studies textbooks are anti-Christian. TFN Insider will keep you updated on progress.

9:53 a.m. – We notice that board members Barbara Cargill and Don McLeroy have been going through world history textbooks currently used in Texas publics schools. Cargill has them stacked at her desk. We anticipate that she and McLeroy will use examples from those books to try to prove that they reflect an anti-Christian, pro-Islamic bias. But those textbooks were approved for Texas schools by this board in 2002, and social conservatives at the time were very happy. Why? Because, as news reports from the time explain, they were able to force publishers to make numerous changes, including the addition of positive references to Christianity and the deletion of neutral or positive references to Islam. From a Houston Chronicle article dated Oct. 30, 2002 (now archived on a conservative Christian website):

The discussion of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., by Muslim extremists was closely read by many reviewers. Raborn criticized a passage in the Glencoe/McGraw-Hill book that discussed how Osama bin Laden’s instructions to his followers to kill Americans was not supported by the Quran, which tells soldiers to show civilians kindness and justice.

“This is going to great length to put a positive light on Muslim teachings considering other passages in the Quran. Either leave this material out alltogether or present more balance,” Raborn said in written comments submitted to the state board.

The publisher replaced the deleted passage with a statement that al-Qaeda’s anti-American beliefs were not shared by all Muslims. “The attacks on the United States horrified people around the world, including millions of Muslims who live in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere,” the book now reads.

Other examples are found in an Oct. 27, 2002, Fort Worth Star-Telegram article in our files (apparently archived on a subscription-only website). The article notes that publishers were forced to delete this passage from one textbooks, World Explorer: People, Places and Cultures:

“But many more other teachings in the Quran, such as the importance of honesty, honor, giving to others and having love and respect for their families, govern their daily lives.”

Another textbook, World Civilizations: The Global Experience, added this passage:

“Christianity, for example, appealed to educated people, as it adopted a complex set of ideas about God and life. Its spirituality and its promise of eternal life also appealed to many other groups.”

That article summed up the changes:

“Some new Texas textbooks no longer teach that the Quran stresses honesty and honor, that glaciers moved over the earth millions of years ago or that Communists felt their system of government offered workers more security. “

The reference to glaciers was changed in one textbook to “in the distant past” because creationists insist that these rivers of ice could not have moved over the earth millions of years ago when, they argued, earth didn’t even exist.

Conservatives quoted by the article expressed their delight with the changes they forced publishers to make throughout their textbooks. Here’s what Chris Patterson of the far-right Texas Public Policy Foundation had to say:

“For the most part, we are delighted with the changes. The publishers made very substantive changes in adding content and correcting errors.”

Today, however, the State Board of Education’s bloc of social conservatives claim that social studies textbooks the board adopted eight years ago are anti-Christian and pro-Islam.

10 a.m. – Gail Lowe, state board chair, brings up the resolution. She says this resolution is just about the balanced treatment of “divergent religious groups.” Really? Then why does the resolution specifically attack Islam and make untrue claims about coverage of Islam and Christianity in the standards?

10:01: Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is testifying. We’ll reproduce her testimony on here later. She’s making a sharp criticism of this inflammatory resolution: “It’s hard not to conclude that the misleading claims in this resolution are not the result of ignorance or are instead the result of fear-mongering.” She says: pass a neutral resolution that calls for on publishers to treat all religions fairly and accurately. Attacking Islam in the resolution is unnecessary and divisive.

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How the Right Wields Faith as a Weapon

July 28, 2010

Religious-right leaders often use faith as a weapon to divide people for political gain. An essay from Dave Welch, head of the far-right groups U.S. Pastor Council and Houston Area Pastor Council, offers another stark example.

In his July 17 essay for World Net Daily, a website that wallows in the dirty waters of the fringe right, Welch attacks both the faith and patriotism of pastors who don’t agree with him politically. His major targets are pastors who refuse to drag their houses of worship into political warfare. Writes Welch:

“(I)f a pastor is clearly shown that he can legally do anything in relation to influencing public policy, informing and registering voters, educating on candidates’ positions, etc. – with the only exception being directly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate as an organization (pastors may clearly do so individually) – and the pastor is doing none of the above … there must be another reason.

There is. His biblical worldview is incomplete, his theology is fragmented, he has been ‘seminarianized’ into the seeker-friendly, market-driven, church-growth mindset and/or he simply is not a leader.”

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Group’s Leader: Houston Mayor a ‘Sodomite’

June 30, 2010

The head of the fringe-right Houston Area Pastor Council has just published a new screed attacking politicians and others who support equal rights for gay people. But Dave Welch — who isn’t shy about promoting his ties to elected state officials, including the governor — reserves his most vile rhetoric for politicians and other people who are gay, and his contempt for Houston Mayor Annise Parker is especially clear.

The subject of Welch’s new diatribe was this past weekend’s Pride Parade in Houston. That annual event in cities across the country marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, which sparked the modern gay rights movement.

Welch’s hit piece includes heated criticism of candidates, elected officials and representatives of the Houston police and fire departments who participated in the city’s Pride Parade. Addressing “pastors and Christian men of greater Houston,” Welch highlights the participation of Parker, the city’s openly lesbian mayor elected by voters last fall:

“It was OUR failure to stand in the gap that allowed the election of a sodomite who has now proven (remember cross dressing men in the women’s restrooms?) that her lifestyle IS her public policy agenda. It is not OUR duty to see that we redress this grievance by assuring we choose leaders of faith, character and virtue to provide moral leadership rather than amoral depravity.”

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Far Right Smears Clergy from Press Conference

May 12, 2010

Wow. It didn’t take long for far-right pressure groups to start smearing clergy members who want the Texas State Board of Education to stop trying to undermine religious freedom in social studies classrooms. Just minutes after the Texas Faith Network’s Capitol press conference today, the far right’s lies started flying across the Internet.

Jonathan Saenz, a lawyer/lobbyist for Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family, claimed that the Christian and Jewish clergy who spoke at the press conference “personally attack(ed) the Christian faith of some State Board of Education members.” Really, Jonathan? How? When? It should be no surprise that he didn’t offer a shred of evidence for such an absurd and reckless charge. (Folks shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for Saenz to apologize to those clergy men and women.)

Saenz also had the gall to question the truthfulness of clergy speakers who want social studies classes to teach the truth about how the Founders barred government from promoting one religion over all others:

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The Right’s ‘Culture War’ Drags on in Houston

April 6, 2010

Religious-righters in Houston are still foaming at the mouth over the election last fall of an openly gay candidate, then-city controller Annise Parker, as mayor. As reported last fall, religious extremists disingenuously claimed Parker had made her sexual orientation “a central part of her campaign” and warned that her election would be “destructive to the family.”

Among those behind the anti-Parker smear campaign was Dave Welch, head of the far-right Houston Area Pastor Council. Now the Pastor Council is denouncing two executive orders Parker signed last week protecting city employees from harassment or discrimination in hiring, promotion and contracting based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They also allow transgendered city employees — but not nonemployees — to use restroom facilities in city-owned buildings for the gender with which they identify.

In a press release today, the Pastor Council’s spokespeople warned of “cross-dressing men invading” women’s restrooms as a result. And Pastor Hernan Castano, senior pastor of Iglesia Rios de Aceite, argued that the orders were too broad:

“There are currently no legal boundaries of either of these two new categories of minority status, unlike the color of a person’s skin, their biological gender or religious faith. Protecting ‘expression’ and ‘identity’ are designed to drop the bottom out of our moral foundation. This is not only morally wrong it exposes the city and therefore the taxpayers to endless litigation and expenses. It is irresponsible and indefensible.”

You can expect the culture war over Parker’s mayoral administration to continue for quite some time.

The Religious Right Targets Houston Election

November 16, 2009

It really was only a matter of time. For months the Houston mayoral election focused on issues important to most working families in the city — issues like crime, transportation and economic development. Oh sure, there were occasional subtle references by far-right political activists to the fact that candidate Annise Parker, the current city controller, is a lesbian. But an organized anti-gay smear campaign didn’t develop. That is, it didn’t develop apparently until now, with Parker facing former city attorney Gene Locke in a runoff election on Dec. 12.

According to the Houston Chronicle this weekend:

A cluster of socially conservative Houstonians is planning a campaign to discourage voters from choosing City Controller Annise Parker in the December mayoral runoff because she is a lesbian, according to multiple ministers and conservatives involved in the effort.

The group is motivated by concerns about a “gay takeover” of City Hall, given that two other candidates in the five remaining City Council races are also openly gay, as well as national interest driven by the possibility that Houston could become the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay woman.

And just who are the leaders behind this coming anti-gay smear campaign? Two religious-right leaders long familiar to the Texas Freedom Network: Dave Welch and Steven Hotze.

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