RR Organizers Plan Texas Event Designed to Politicize Churches for Elections

by Dan Quinn

Religious-right organizers are gearing up for another major effort to politicize churches in support of Republican candidates for office. This month they’re targeting Texas pastors.

United in Purpose, founded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists in 2011, will host a “Voter Mobilization Strategy Summit” on March 25-26 at a DFW Airport hotel. The event will feature speakers such as phony historian David Barton of Texas-based WallBuilders, Rick Scarborough of Texas-based Vision America and right-wing fire-breather Glenn Beck.

According to the United in Purpose website, the organization’s mission is “to unite and equip like-minded conservative organizations to increase their reach, impact, and influence through the latest technology, research and marketing strategies for the purpose of bringing about a culture change in America based on Judeo-Christian principles.”

Groups like the Texas Pastor Council headed by gay-hater Dave Welch are helping recruit pastors to a “Special Strategy Session for Church Leaders” at the two-day event. A Texas Pastor Council email on Thursday says the session’s purpose is to “help pastors think through effective strategies for getting out the vote in their congregations in 2014.”

Inviting pastors to closed-door gatherings where they’re encouraged by prominent religious-right leaders to politicize their churches is hardly a new strategy. The Texas Restoration Projection spent more than $1 million to host thousands of pastors and their spouses for a series of “Pastors Policy Briefings” at hotels across state in 2005. The “briefings” were part of a thinly disguised effort to build support for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election campaign the following year. In fact, wealthy Perry campaign donors footed the bill for the events.

But these pastor-mobilization efforts have become increasingly sophisticated and extensive. “Renewal Projects,” modeled after the Texas Restoration Project, have continued to host similar pastor gatherings in major presidential election battleground states around the country. Now United in Purpose organizers are harnessing the power of new technology and communications tools to mobilize pastors. And their efforts could be particularly effective in midterm elections, when overall voter turnout is lower than in presidential election years.