Archive for the ‘Texas Restoration Project’ Category

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.

Religious-Right Leaders Back Santorum

January 14, 2012

Texas Gov. Rick Perry lost a key vote in his own backyard on Saturday. Prominent religious-right leaders meeting at a Texas ranch decided to back former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania over Perry, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination this year. That decision should give Santorum a boost in his efforts to rally social conservatives behind his challenge to frontrunner and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. From the Associated Press:

Surrogates for each campaign were said to have made presentations and answered questions. The goal was to determine whether conservative leaders could rally behind one alternative candidate to Romney, in hopes of ensuring one of their own wins the nomination instead of someone they consider more moderate. Many conservative leaders fear a repeat of four years ago when, in their view, a divided conservative base led the GOP to nominate McCain.

Meeting attendees said it took several ballots for 75 percent of attendees to agree on Santorum after winnowing down the field from three candidates: Santorum, Gingrich and Perry. They also said that there was some support for Romney.

The decision appears to have upset David Lane, who in recent years has been a chief organizer of efforts to mobilize conservative evangelical pastors behind selected Republican politicians. Lane helped organize Texas Restoration Project events, for example, that promoted Rick Perry in 2005. From the same AP story:

But David Lane, a California-based pastor who has set up candidate forums with ministers in Iowa, said he was frustrated with the outcome because he does not believe Santorum has an organization or fundraising capability to allow him to campaign deep into the primary season.

He said the choice to back Santorum projects political weakness.

“This country is going to hell, and the evangelical voice is meaningless,” Lane said.

Renewal Projects: Copy, Paste, Repeat

October 21, 2011

The people behind religious-right activist David Lane’s Restoration/Renewal Projects are getting plain lazy to the point where they’re just hitting “copy-paste” on old material and distributing it in support of yet another Rick Perry political campaign.

The Iowa Independent reports members of the Iowa faith community recently received invitations from the Iowa Renewal Project to attend a “pastors’ policy briefing” to be held next month in Des Moines. The date will be less than two months before the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses at which Gov. Perry will rely heavily on votes from conservative evangelicals if he is to have a viable shot at the Republican presidential nomination.

TFN has for years been documenting the activities of the Texas Restoration Project, which was also organized by Lane appears to be almost a carbon copy of what the Iowa Renewal Project is now attempting. Restoration, Renewal, potato, po-tah-to.

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About That Nonpolitical Prayer Rally, Ctd.

August 24, 2011

The American Family Association isn’t the only one playing fast and loose with election law in their almost-but-not-really-endorsement of Gov. Rick Perry. The American Renewal Project — part of a shadowy network of state-based organizations, including the Texas Restoration Project, that supported conservative candidates in previous election cycles — does them one better.

Check out the email sent by the founder of the American Renewal Project on Saturday, August 13 — just hours after Perry formally declared his candidacy for President:

American Renewal Project (more…)

Gov. Perry’s Cynical Call to Prayer

June 28, 2011

Since the day Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced that he had invited the nation’s governors to Houston to pray for America (so far only two have indicated that they will come), the signs have pointed to yet another cynical attempt to use faith as a political weapon. On Monday Gov. Perry essentially confirmed that assumption. His gubernatorial campaign office blasted out an email to supporters and other political activists, calling them to the Houston event.

“I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation,” Gov. Perry wrote. “There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.”

That’s a wonderful message for people of faith — but its delivery through an electoral campaign office by a politician apparently preparing for a presidential run reveals it as little more than a cold and calculating political tactic.

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Far-Right Clergy Front Group Reappears

October 1, 2010

Remember the Texas Restoration Project? That’s the political front group formed in 2005 to organize conservative, fundamentalist Christian clergy in support of Gov. Rick Perry. The group ended up being funded largely through a Houston-based nonprofit that itself was backed by more than $1 million from wealthy Perry campaign supporters.

We haven’t seen much from the Texas Restoration Project over the last couple of years. Then yesterday we saw an e-mail from the group asking Texas pastors to alert colleagues in Nevada about a gathering of the so-called Nevada Renewal Project Oct. 21-22 in Las Vegas:

“Will you please put a little effort in helping us get Nevada pastors to the Rediscovering God in America event? We want to do everything we can to make sure Nevada does not stand alone in the fight to restore its Judeo Christian heritage!”

The Texas Restoration Project organizers — including David Barton of WallBuilders and the Rev. Laurence White of Houston — have used their Texas contact list to promote similar groups across the country since 2005, mostly in election years. Over time, in fact, Restoration and Renewal projects have popped up in many political battleground states, from Nevada to Florida and Iowa to Colorado. The obvious goal has been to mobilize conservative pastors in support of selected Republican candidates (who often speak at the events). Pastors are then encouraged essentially to turn drag their own churches into partisan politics.

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News writes about the Nevada Renewal Project event here.

Saying No to Partisan Politics in the Pulpit

September 21, 2008

A Roman Catholic bishop is telling a prominent far-right group to look elsewhere for congregations willing to break the law by promoting partisan politics from the pulpit during this year’s general election campaign. Talk to Action has more here.

The Texas Freedom Network has been a leading voice in exposing far-right efforts to drag our houses of worship into partisan politics through groups such as the Texas Restoration Project. A TFN Education Fund report in 2006 took a close look at the Texas Restoration Project’s ties to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican Party. The Restoration Project is still active, with plans for another so-called “Pastors’ Policy Briefing” (again featuring Gov. Perry) on Oct. 9-10 in Austin. These briefings bring hundreds of conservative pastors and their spouses (free of charge) to hear Gov. Perry and a string of pooh-bahs rail against separation of church and state, gay men and lesbians, reproductive rights for women and other favorite demons of the religious right.

Birds of a Feather…

August 29, 2008
We told you earlier this week how Gov. Rick Perry has employed a disturbing mix of faith and militancy in a note to conservative evangelical pastors. Gov. Perry wrote the note in an invitation for pastors to attend a Texas Restoration Project event in Austin next month. The governor isn’t the only person linked to the Texas Restoration Project who dips into the rhetorical well of militant Christianity. Another prominent speaker at the far-right group’s events has been the Rev. Rod Parsley of Ohio, who has said the mission of a Christian United States is to destroy Islam.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain welcomed Parsley’s support earlier this year, calling him a “spiritual guide.” But Parsley’s rhetoric has been so incendiary that McCain was finally forced to distance himself from the Ohio pastor. For a taste of that red-hot rhetoric, see the video clip below. (McCain’s repudiation of Parsley came later.)

You can read more about Parsley here and here and about his connection with the Texas Restoration Project in a Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report here. Gov. Perry, who claimed in his invitation to pastors that “radical jihadists” are out to destroy “our Judeo Christian heritage,” is very familiar with Parsley, and not just through the Texas Restoration Project. In 2005, Parsley spoke at a ceremony in a Fort Worth evangelical school at which Gov. Perry signed anti-abortion legislation and a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. Birds of a feather…