Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (speaking in a recorded message) and his father Rafael warned about religious persecution, homosexual domination of pulpits, and churches forced to hire pedophiles at a gather of about 1,000 pastors and their spouses in Austin this week, according to one of the attendees of the Texas Renewal Project event.

The Texas Renewal Project — launched in 2005 as the Texas Restoration Project — provides free lodging and meals for attendees who come to listen to select politicians and religious-right leaders demand that Christians assert control over American government. (Not just any Christians, mind you. They’re talking about fundamentalist Christians with a particular right-wing political view.) The funding source is unknown, but major campaign donors to then-Gov. Rick Perry paid for the six events in 2005. All of those events featured speeches by Perry in the run-up to his re-election race the next year.

In addition to Abbott and the Cruzes, this week’s event featured former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee and Ted Cruz are both seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016. David Barton, the phony historian and head of Texas-based WallBuilders, was among the religious-right leaders who spoke.

You… Read More

The Texas Renewal Project event scheduled for later this month will have another notable speaker: Gov. Greg Abbott.

We already wrote about this event, but the addition of the state’s top elected official appears to be new, according to an email invitation that went out late last week.

Abbott will join former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, at a hotel in Austin for a “pastors briefing” designed to turn clergy into politicians.

To gain a little more insight on what these Renewal Project trainings are all about, and why you should care about the politicization of congregations, take a look at how the chief organizer of the trainings, David Lane, opened a similar training in Charleston, S.C., earlier this year:

“Fifty-five million babies dead. Red ink as far as the eye can see. Homosexuals praying at the inauguration. … Lord, have mercy.”

Yeah, heaven forbid that a gay person would have the audacity to pray. Lane added this in an interview:

“My No. 1 ask is, can you register 100 percent in your pews? No. 2, can you preach biblical values and make sure people connect the dots? They don’t… Read More

Gov. Greg Abbott today announced the appointment of Texas State Board of Education member Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as board chair. Bahorich replaces Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands. We just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is expressing disappointment in Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision, announced today, to appoint State Board of Education member Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as board chair:

“If Gov. Abbott wanted to demonstrate that he won’t continue his predecessor’s efforts to politicize and undermine our state’s public schools, this appointment falls far short. The governor has appointed as board chair an ideologue who voted to adopt new textbooks that scholars sharply criticized as distorting American history, who rejected public education for her own family and who supports shifting tax dollars from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools through vouchers. This appointment almost guarantees that the board will continue to put culture war agendas ahead of educating more than 5 million Texas kids.”

In 2013, her first year on the board, Bahorich voted against a resolution urging the Legislature to reject private school vouchers. Bahorich also homeschooled her three sons and then sent them to private and religious school. The board… Read More

Religious-right activists are now directly attacking the faith of elected city officials in Plano in an increasingly vitriolic campaign to repeal the North Texas city’s new anti-discrimination ordinance.

The ordinance, passed in December, bars discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations. Religious-right activists have been trying for weeks to frighten Plano residents by arguing that the ordinance will endanger women and children in public restrooms.

Those deceitful appeals to fear and bigotry are appalling. But the far-right Texas Pastor Council/Houston Area Pastor Council is also suggesting that God supports discrimination. In an email to activists today, the group even uses violent rhetoric in charging that Plano’s mayor and City Council members who support the ordinance have rejected God:

“Remember, it is Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and the five city council members who railroaded this ordinance through with complete disrespect to the community and good government practices who ‘threw the first punch.’ LaRosiliere and the council declared that God either doesn’t exist or His word is false and that even basic biological facts are up for grabs. They assaulted the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God – not us.”

Attacking the religious faith of those who support equality for all is repugnant. Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott, who receivedRead More

Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott is getting well-deserved criticism for his comments at a conservative forum about city ordinances that ban fracking and disposable plastic bags at stores. Claiming that such measures show that Texas is being “Californianized,” Abbott absurdly argued that they represent intolerable limits on freedom:

“That is contrary to my vision for Texas. My vision is one where individual liberties are not bound by city limits. I will insist on protecting unlimited liberty to make sure Texas will continue to grow and prosper.”

Critics are rightly pointing out the hypocrisy in those statements. Abbott — like most Texas Republicans — has for years made a big deal about defending “local control” against state and federal interference. But it turns out that when local communities pass ordinances Abbott doesn’t like, “local control” becomes just another example of government tyranny that threatens individual liberty. Political expediency, not principle, guides our incoming governor.

But there’s another way that Abbott’s statements here are deeply hypocritical. Abbott claims that he “will insist on protecting unlimited liberty,” but that conviction apparently doesn’t extend to liberty for gay people. In fact, Abbott insists on using a convoluted and pitiful defense of the state’s ban on the freedom of same-sex couples to marry in Texas.… Read More