Pflugerville Pastor Tells Congregants How God Wants Them to Vote in School Board Race

Who is behind efforts to toss out of office two Pflugerville Independent School District board members who support giving the domestic partners of district employees access to health insurance? Pflugerville is located in Travis County, and the school district includes parts of north Austin. Various religious-right groups and activists have criticized Pflugerville school board members for supporting the domestic partners policy last year, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on April 29 issued a formal opinion charging that the policy violates the state Constitution. The new board could decide whether and how to revise the district’s policy to meet any constitutional objections.

The day after the attorney general released his opinion, the Texas Pastor Council circulated by email a Pflugerville pastor’s letter to members of his congregation. You can read the full letter below. In his letter, Senior Pastor Dr. Steve Washburn tells members of Pflugerville’s First Baptist Church that God wants them to “vote for the candidates who best represent and defend the Lord’s moral values as He reveals them in Scripture.” His letter goes on to demand that “we are to vote for the candidates who oppose” giving “immoral sexual partners” access to the district’s health insurance benefits. Washburn then identifies the four candidates for the two contested seats in the May 11 election and tells readers to do their own research on where the candidates stand on the issue. Of course, it’s no secret in Pflugerville that incumbents Mario Acosta (Place 3) and Carol Fletcher (Place 5) voted for the policy.

As we’ve already said, the Pflugerville election has become a referendum on equality. And the election is important not just for Pflugerville ISD. Its results could influence how other school districts and local governments approach the issue of benefits for employees and their families. The Texas Freedom Network has proudly endorsed Acosta and Fletcher for courageously choosing to treat all of the district’s employees with equality and dignity. Washburn’s letter, on the other hand, is yet another disturbing example of the religious right using faith as a political weapon to divide our communities.

The election is this Saturday, May 11. Click here for information on polling locations.

Following is Washburn’s letter (as circulated by the Texas Pastor Council):

Dear First Baptist Pflugerville Family,

If you live in the Pflugerville Independent School District, I want to call your attention to something of great importance that needs your personal and immediate attention.

Our School Board election is going on RIGHT NOW. Early voting started yesterday and will go through next Tuesday, May 7. Actual Election Day is on Saturday, May 11th. Times and voting locations can be found on the attachment.

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US NEEDS TO VOTE IN THIS ELECTION! (Preferably during this early voting period.) We need to vote in two races: Place #3 and Place #5.

In any election, there is only one question we need to answer: “For which candidates does GOD want me to vote?” As followers of Jesus, we vote for HIS priorities, not our priorities. That means we are always, first and foremost – “Christian Moral Values Voters.” We vote for the candidates who best represent and defend the Lord’s moral values as He reveals them in Scripture.

Although there are a number of issues being discussed by all candidates, our primary concern revolves around the previous decision of the PISD School Board to extend health insurance benefits to “domestic partners.” This provision allows employees of PISD to include immoral sexual partners (heterosexual and homosexual) in their medical insurance benefit plan as though they were legal spouses. We are to vote for the candidates in Place #3 and Place #5 who will oppose this decision. If you are unclear where the various candidates stand on this issue, please call a friend who may be more familiar, or research your decision on-line.

Candidates for Place #3: Mario Acosta vs Tony Hanson
Candidates for Place #5: Carol Fletcher vs Lance Sandlin

For followers of Jesus, not voting is NOT an option. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth [salt prevents decay]. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world [light guides in darkness]. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden… Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16).

As your pastor, let me again tell you how proud I am to serve a group of individuals so determined to glorify our Lord! Our collective voice will be heard across Texas and throughout the Kingdom of God!

Dr. Steve Washburn
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Pflugerville

13 thoughts on “Pflugerville Pastor Tells Congregants How God Wants Them to Vote in School Board Race

  1. When I was a young man, just out of the amy and enrolled in college, I wanted to serve people in the best way I could. I would be a preacher. At West Texas State University I could not major in Bible studies but took enough semester hours in it for a minor while I majored in history. While an undergraduate I preached in various small Churches of Christ in the Panhandle area. Eventually my understanding of history overtook my faith in fundamentalist religion, and I decided my service was to be in teaching history. I no longer attend church, but I know that many rational people do. Long ago I learned not to judge a church by its worst members, and I hope that the people in this pastor’s congregation will not vote his convictions.

  2. “For followers of Jesus, not voting is NOT an option.”

    ‘Cause the Apostles always cast their vote for Tetrarchs and Emporors and stuff…….

    Can PFBC’s tax-free status be revoked for that? Or is his clever “if you are unclear” something that falls far enough short of endorsing a candidate?

  3. I have been involved in many religious organizations that have encouraged political involvement. We should all be involved in one way or another. But there is a fine line between encouraging religious people to follow their convictions and telling them how to vote.

    This guy has crossed the line. Taking him to court to remove his church’s tax exempt status would not be unreasonable.

  4. Funny. God told me that this pastor’s church should pay taxes like any other politician endorsing group. Surely he heard that, too.

  5. Funny. God told me that this pastor’s church should pay taxes like any other politician endorsing group. Surely he heard that, too.

  6. @Swinedance

    “This guy has crossed the line. Taking him to court to remove his church’s tax exempt status would not be unreasonable.”

    No it certainly would not be unreasonable. But just out of curiosity, does anyone know if this has ever happened? The right has been getting more and more aggressive in using the pulpit to press its objectives.

  7. The IRS no longer has the guts to enforce this law, and everyone knows it. Americans United has been pestering them to do so for years and has hardly seen even an inch of movement. The bottom line is fear. The IRS and the politicians that finally gained control over the IRS in the late 1980s are afraid that any sort of enforcement will be viwed by the public as a return to the ist century government persecution of Christians. No politician or government agency manager wants to be known coast to coast as the nouveau Nero of the 21st century.

    Basically, I think it has all moved to the point where 50,000 churches could start politicking right now, and no one would dare touch even one hair on their scalps for violating the law. One of the problems of being the first black American President is that he and his cabinet members must be very careful to avoid making public moves and actions that would make him look like the dark-skinned demon that all the old white guy racists in these churches have always expected and hoped that he would be. It kind of ties your hands on matters like this. You know:

    Persecution!!! Persecution!!! Look what the n-words are doing to our little white churches. Oh woe is me. Is there no salvation in this world. Oh woe is me.”

  8. When you posters mount up to remove the tax exempt status of the PFBC, just keep on riding south. In east Austin, you will find numerous pastors telling their members how to vote. It’s been going on for years, but no one has the guts to demand those pastors keep politics out of the Sunday sermons. You folks obviously have the passion and the guts, so why don’t you go for it?

    1. Frank: It’s troubling when any church wades into partisan politics. They shouldn’t do it, regardless of the party or the candidates they are supporting. But it’s even more disturbing when a pastor tells his congregants that they must vote a certain way or they are otherwise rejecting what God wants them to do. Using God and religion as political weapons should offend all people of faith.

  9. How can so may get so confused. The founding fathers of this country came here to be free to say what they felt was right. Free from government intervention. Not the other way around. If you don’t agree with what he says that’s one thing but to take away his right to say so is another.