A Disturbing Vision of the Religious Right on Display at the Texas GOP Convention

The Texas GOP held its biennial convention in San Antonio at the end of May, leaving Texans with a chilling demonstration of the growing embrace of Christian nationalism and voter suppression tactics within the Republican Party of Texas. As reported by The Texas Tribune, the convention was consumed by delegates’ efforts to further infuse their conservative Christian beliefs into our public lives and institutions while adopting rules that could enable them to manipulate elections based on those beliefs.

The new party platform reveals a radical agenda of putting biblical teachings and the Republican Party’s version of “Christianity” at the center of law, education, and even the electoral process itself.

Some of the most egregious proposals include:

  • Requiring the Bible to be taught in public schools
  • Banning candidates and judges who dissent from the party line from primary ballots for two years
  • Requiring statewide candidates to win a majority of deep-red rural counties, effectively locking Democrats out of statewide offices.
  • Opposing books, curricula, and policies around LGBTQIA+ inclusion and what they call “gender ideology”
  • Promoting the false claim that gender identity and expression threaten children and families

These moves abandon our founding principles of religious freedom, the separation of church and state, and democracy itself. They seek to privilege one narrow interpretation of Christianity over all others, stamping out the religious and philosophical diversity that has made this nation a beacon of liberty.

The convention showcased the growing sway of Christian nationalist ideology, which insists America was founded as an explicitly Christian nation and that conservative Christian values should be upheld as the source of law and public policy. This is far from the truth. The U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Laws weaponizing faith to take away a particular community’s rights are not about religious freedom. They are about control. This divisive us-vs-them mentality fuels hate and discrimination toward those perceived as outsiders who don’t conform.

Speakers and attendees of the Texas GOP convention made it abundantly clear they see themselves as Christian “warriors” fighting against nefarious “demonic” and “Satanic” forces bent on indoctrinating children and destroying America’s Christian heritage. This demonizing rhetoric dehumanizes those with different beliefs and creates a dangerous environment for escalating conflict.

Perhaps most alarmingly, these beliefs are moving from the fringes into the mainstream of the Republican Party in Texas. The puppetmasters emboldening and further entrenching this faction are West Texas oil billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks. With their deep pockets backing Christian nationalist candidates and ideology, the religious right is in a position to reshape policy and institutions based on their personal agenda if left unheeded.

But with your support, they won’t be left to turn their vision into reality through laws, curricula, courts, and election rules designed to secure permanent one-party rule. Together, with people power, we’ll put a stop to their plans. The Texas GOP held their convention in late May, and our views did not align at all, so we were absent from their hatred-filled gathering. But staff members from TFN did attend the Texas Democratic Party convention a few weeks later in June, and were also invited to present in three workshops. TFN has almost 30 years of experience being the watchdog monitoring the far-right, so it’s only fitting that we responded to the Texas GOP’s agenda by training engaged Texans on the intersection of Politics & Faith, Public Education Organizing, and Voter Suppression and the Law. TFN staff had a great time meeting with new young voters, experienced democratic advocates, and legislative champions.

The far-right’s agenda is frightening, but this pivotal moment where their extreme objectives have been laid bare, presents an opportunity for us to mount a unified resistance. The solution is simple but vital: We must all get involved and make our voices heard through civic participation. In response to this disturbing Christian nationalist agenda, all Texans who believe in preserving our founding ideals of religious freedom must:

In other words: Organize, Vote, Advocate, Repeat

We must remain united to protect the separation of church and state, equal rights for all, and the enduring truth that religious belief should never be used to discriminate or strip others of their rights. The stakes are too high to remain on the sidelines.

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