Texas Restoration/Renewal Project
The Texas Restoration Project has become a model the right’s recruitment of conservative, evangelical pastors into political campaigns across the country. Similar groups in other states often go by the name “Renewal Project,” as in the American Renewal Project, Iowa Renewal Project and Florida Renewal Project. In nearly all cases thus far, these groups have served to mobilize socially conservative pastors in support of Republican candidates for public office.
The Texas Restoration Project debuted in 2005 with six so-called “Pastors Policy Briefings” in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth. Thousands of pastors and their spouses attended the events, with their lodging and food covered by the Restoration Project.
The Austin events stretched over two days, while the others were half-day affairs. Republican officeholders and politicians especially Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke at the events along with prominent and lesser religious-right leaders such as David Barton of WallBuilders and the Rev. Rod Parsley of Ohio. Research by the Texas Freedom Network revealed that major donors to Gov. Perry’s political campaigns bankrolled the Restoration Project events through the private Houston-based Niemoller Foundation.
Since 2005, so-called “Renewal Projects” have hosted similar pastor events featuring selected Republican politicians in presidential battleground states across the country. The chief organizer for these Renewal Project and Texas Restoration Project events has been David Lane, a longtime political organizer tied to the religious right.