The Texas State Board of Education is about to take up a proposed resolution attacking Islam and claiming that social studies textbooks are anti-Christian. TFN Insider will keep you updated on progress. 9:53 a.m. - We notice that board members Barbara Cargill and Don McLeroy have been going through world history textbooks currently used in Texas publics schools. Cargill has them stacked at her desk. We anticipate that she and McLeroy will use examples from those books to try to prove that they reflect an anti-Christian, pro-Islamic bias. But those textbooks were approved for Texas schools by this board in 2002, and social conservatives at the time were very happy. Why? Because, as news reports from the time explain, they were able to force publishers to make numerous changes, including the addition of positive references to Christianity and the deletion of neutral or positive references to Islam. From a Houston Chronicle article dated Oct. 30, 2002 (now archived on a conservative Christian website): The discussion of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., by Muslim extremists was closely read by many reviewers. Raborn criticized a passage in the Glencoe/McGraw-Hill book that…… Read More

Religious-right leaders often use faith as a weapon to divide people for political gain. An essay from Dave Welch, head of the far-right groups U.S. Pastor Council and Houston Area Pastor Council, offers another stark example. In his July 17 essay for World Net Daily, a website that wallows in the dirty waters of the fringe right, Welch attacks both the faith and patriotism of pastors who don't agree with him politically. His major targets are pastors who refuse to drag their houses of worship into political warfare. Writes Welch: "(I)f a pastor is clearly shown that he can legally do anything in relation to influencing public policy, informing and registering voters, educating on candidates' positions, etc. – with the only exception being directly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate as an organization (pastors may clearly do so individually) – and the pastor is doing none of the above … there must be another reason. There is. His biblical worldview is incomplete, his theology is fragmented, he has been 'seminarianized' into the seeker-friendly, market-driven, church-growth mindset and/or he simply is not a leader."…… Read More

The head of the fringe-right Houston Area Pastor Council has just published a new screed attacking politicians and others who support equal rights for gay people. But Dave Welch -- who isn't shy about promoting his ties to elected state officials, including the governor -- reserves his most vile rhetoric for politicians and other people who are gay, and his contempt for Houston Mayor Annise Parker is especially clear. The subject of Welch's new diatribe was this past weekend's Pride Parade in Houston. That annual event in cities across the country marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, which sparked the modern gay rights movement. Welch's hit piece includes heated criticism of candidates, elected officials and representatives of the Houston police and fire departments who participated in the city's Pride Parade. Addressing "pastors and Christian men of greater Houston," Welch highlights the participation of Parker, the city's openly lesbian mayor elected by voters last fall: "It was OUR failure to stand in the gap that allowed the election of a sodomite who has now proven (remember cross dressing men in the women’s restrooms?) that her lifestyle IS her public policy agenda. It is…… Read More

Wow. It didn't take long for far-right pressure groups to start smearing clergy members who want the Texas State Board of Education to stop trying to undermine religious freedom in social studies classrooms. Just minutes after the Texas Faith Network's Capitol press conference today, the far right's lies started flying across the Internet. Jonathan Saenz, a lawyer/lobbyist for Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family, claimed that the Christian and Jewish clergy who spoke at the press conference "personally attack(ed) the Christian faith of some State Board of Education members." Really, Jonathan? How? When? It should be no surprise that he didn't offer a shred of evidence for such an absurd and reckless charge. (Folks shouldn't hold their breath waiting for Saenz to apologize to those clergy men and women.) Saenz also had the gall to question the truthfulness of clergy speakers who want social studies classes to teach the truth about how the Founders barred government from promoting one religion over all others:…… Read More

Religious-righters in Houston are still foaming at the mouth over the election last fall of an openly gay candidate, then-city controller Annise Parker, as mayor. As reported last fall, religious extremists disingenuously claimed Parker had made her sexual orientation “a central part of her campaign” and warned that her election would be “destructive to the family.”

Among those behind the anti-Parker smear campaign was Dave Welch, head of the far-right Houston Area Pastor Council. Now the Pastor Council is denouncing two executive orders Parker signed last week protecting city employees from harassment or discrimination in hiring, promotion and contracting based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They also allow transgendered city employees — but not nonemployees — to use restroom facilities in city-owned buildings for the gender with which they identify.

In a press release today, the Pastor Council’s spokespeople warned of “cross-dressing men invading” women’s restrooms as a result. And Pastor Hernan Castano, senior pastor of Iglesia Rios de Aceite, argued that the orders were too broad:

“There are currently no legal boundaries of either of these two new categories of minority status, unlike the color of a person’s skin, their biological gender or religious… Read More