Archive for the ‘Houston Area Pastor Council’ Category

Dewhurst to ‘Brief’ Pastors on Voter ID Law

March 20, 2012

We told you earlier this month that Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst seems to be taking a page out of Rick Perry’s political handbook in his quest for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate this year. The lieutenant governor is scheduled to speak on Friday at a “private briefing” for pastors in Houston. Over the years Gov. Perry has made such “briefings” a key part of his political strategy to court the electoral support of conservative evangelical pastors. But we thought it was interesting how today’s email from the Texas Pastor Council (another name the Houston Area Pastor Council uses) highlights just one of the so-called “critical issues” pastors will hear Dewhurst discuss on Friday:

Pastors, this is your opportunity to receive a private briefing from our Lieutenant Governor on critical issues such as the controversial Voter ID law. We will also be briefed by Pastor Steve Riggle about our stand for traditional marriage and what it means to the city, state, and nation!

Riggle has been involved in an intense anti-gay attack campaign against Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. But event organizers think pastors are particularly interested in having Dewhurst “brief” them about the Texas voter ID law.

Well, maybe they are. But we wonder whether any of them will ask the lieutenant governor what he thinks Jesus would say about a law that will make ballot access harder especially for low-income minorities and the elderly, all of whom are least likely to have driver’s licenses or other state-issued photo identification.

Dewhurst Taking a Page from Perry Playbook

March 8, 2012

Does David Dewhurst see electoral gold in politicizing Texas churches? The Texas lieutenant governor is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat Kay Bailey Hutchison is leaving after this year. On March 23 he will attend “a private briefing” with conservative pastors at a megachurch in south Houston. The right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC) is promoting the event.

From the event’s website:

Join pastors and community leaders for this timely opportunity to have a private briefing on critical issues facing state and nation, and also have personal interaction with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. We will introduce other elected officials and candidates in attendance. Included in the program will be critical Primary and General election information.

This “private briefing” is a page right out of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s political playbook. Gov. Perry has made courting the support of conservative pastors a key part of building his electoral base over the years. In fact, the governor spoke before thousands of pastors and their spouses at six “Pastors Policy Briefings” sponsored by the Texas Restoration Project in 2005 and at others since then. All of the events have been closed to news reporters (except for a crew from the Christian News Network at one). But Restoration Project organizers made it clear that they wanted pastors to use their positions and their churches to push a political agenda (an agenda Gov. Perry promoted in his speeches to those pastors).

The March 23 “briefing” doesn’t appear to be a Restoration Project event, but that seems to be a distinction without much difference. Will reporters be allowed into Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s “private briefing” with pastors? We’ll see. But this isn’t a courtesy call by Dewhurst — it’s an effort by yet another politician to drag churches into partisan politics.

We also note that the event will be held at Grace Community Church. The pastor at Grace is Steve Riggle, who last month publicly released a letter demanding that Houston Mayor Annise Parker resign or stop exercising her First Amendment right to speak out in support of same-sex marriage. Texas Restoration Project events for Gov. Perry also featured numerous anti-gay speakers as well as incendiary rhetoric. One speaker, for example, suggested that God sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans and was prepared to incinerate America because of tolerance for gay people.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

(more…)

Bigotry and Politics in Houston

December 4, 2009

With Houston’s Dec. 12 mayoral runoff election just a little over a week away, the far-right Houston Area Pastor Council is intensifying its vicious anti-gay campaign against one of the candidates. The group’s leader, Dave Welch, has joined with other religious-righters in a coordinated attack on mayoral candidate Annise Parker — currently the city’s controller — because she is a lesbian. On Wednesday Welch continued his attacks in an e-mail to HAPC activists. His e-mail includes an essay he wrote for the far-right World Net Daily Web site.

(more…)