TFN Calls for Investigation of Group Backing Marriage Amendment

TFN Calls for Investigation of Group Backing Marriage Amendment

Files Ethics Complaint Regarding Group’s Activities, Funding
October 12, 2005

AUSTIN The Texas Freedom Network today called for the Texas Ethics Commission to investigate whether a group supporting a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions is complying with state election laws and should reveal the sources of its funding.

In a sworn complaint, TFN President Kathy Miller charged that a principal purpose of the Texas Restoration Project appears to be organizing pastors and their congregants to support Proposition 2 on Nov 8. Yet the Texas Restoration Project has not registered with the Ethics Commission, although the state’s Election Code requires political committees to do so. As a result, voters don’t know who is providing the money for the group’s expensive campaign efforts.

“The Texas Restoration Project appears to be acting less as a faith organization than as a political committee,” Miller said. “This isn’t an issue about people of faith exercising their solemn right to participate in the political process. It’s an issue of political organizations obeying the law.”

The Texas Restoration Project has hosted at a likely cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars so-called “Pastors’ Policy Briefings” for thousands of pastors and their wives across the state, at no charge to those attending. The group’s events and other activities have featured speakers, brochures and other materials calling for the passage of Proposition 2.

Some clergy invited to the “briefings” have expressed concerns about the Restoration Project. Rev. Mel Caraway of First United Methodist Church in Lancaster said he decided not to accept an invitation after reviewing the group’s materials.

“The organizers seem to me to be confusing partisan political activity with faithful witness,” Rev. Caraway said. “Through my United Methodist lens, their materials seem to be a distortion of biblical teaching and look more like campaign rhetoric than preaching resources. It’s not clear where their funding comes from, and I can’t risk possibly tainting my own ministry by associating with them.”

Individuals who have attended the “briefings” also have reported what appear to be political activities aimed at winning support for Proposition 2.

“These events have all the trappings of expensive campaign rallies, complete with pandering politicians and speaker after speaker calling on pastors to support the amendment and to get their congregants to do the same,” Miller said. “The bottom line is that Texans have a right to know who is paying so much money to influence our elections.”