When hundreds of pastors and their spouses descended on Austin on April 3-4 for a Texas Renewal Project event, it was clear that the effort to drag houses of worship into partisan politics was kicking into high gear for the 2014 elections. But we were stunned by the sheer audacity of speakers who told the gathered pastors one mistruth after another — all designed to rile up pastors and encourage them to turn their congregations into political machines.

Some of the most outrageous comments came from David Barton, the religious right’s favorite phony historian and founder of WallBuilders, the Texas-based organization that argues separation of church and state is a myth. Laurence White, a Houston pastor who headed up the Texas Renewal Project’s predecessor organization, the Texas Restoration Project, introduced Barton:

“He knows more about the Founding Fathers than George Washington does. He is the most articulated, informed, knowledgeable defender of America’s Christian heritage and the values and the truths and the convictions that shaped and brought this country into being. I’m proud to call him my friend and the greatest historian of the Founding Fathers I’ve ever known.”

“Greatest historian”? Oh please.… Read More

Remember the Texas Restoration Project? That’s the political front group formed in 2005 to organize conservative, fundamentalist Christian clergy in support of Gov. Rick Perry. The group ended up being funded largely through a Houston-based nonprofit that itself was backed by more than $1 million from wealthy Perry campaign supporters.

We haven’t seen much from the Texas Restoration Project over the last couple of years. Then yesterday we saw an e-mail from the group asking Texas pastors to alert colleagues in Nevada about a gathering of the so-called Nevada Renewal Project Oct. 21-22 in Las Vegas:

“Will you please put a little effort in helping us get Nevada pastors to the Rediscovering God in America event? We want to do everything we can to make sure Nevada does not stand alone in the fight to restore its Judeo Christian heritage!”

The Texas Restoration Project organizers — including David Barton of WallBuilders and the Rev. Laurence White of Houston — have used their Texas contact list to promote similar groups across the country since 2005, mostly in election years. Over time, in fact, Restoration and Renewal projects have popped up in many political battleground states, from Nevada… Read More