Dewhurst Taking a Page from Perry Playbook

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.

4 thoughts on “Dewhurst Taking a Page from Perry Playbook

  1. These preachers should have their tax exemption rescinded.
    Any person who lets their pastor tell them how to vote is pathetic. Stand up on your hind legs like a man or a woman and make your own decisions.

  2. Last night I receive a call from a Dewhurst campaingner. She said she knew I wanted a conservative candidate. I told her I’m tired of conservatives and all their anti-woman, anti-gay, no contraceptive stands.

    Only 30% of Republicans are of the far-right, no tolerance variety. I suggested she change her sales pitch or Dewhurst will lose this moderate Republican and all the Independents in his run for U.S. Senate, just as Perry did in his bid for the presidency.

    1. Irene,
      We know there are plenty of frustrated Republicans like you out there — we meet them as we travel around the state. Like you, they’re appalled that their party’s candidates continue to focus their appeals on the hard-right wing. And they want to change that.

  3. Sounds like you folks haven’t read the Bible. John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said “there has not risen anyone greater than,” (Matt. 11:11) was “right” enough to speak out against the king who transgressed the Word of God. HIs “right wing” stand cost his life, but it didn’t reduce his integrity with God. Not only pastors, but every Christian is obligated to stand for truth and against evil.