The Religious Right Targets Houston Election

It really was only a matter of time. For months the Houston mayoral election focused on issues important to most working families in the city — issues like crime, transportation and economic development. Oh sure, there were occasional subtle references by far-right political activists to the fact that candidate Annise Parker, the current city controller, is a lesbian. But an organized anti-gay smear campaign didn’t develop. That is, it didn’t develop apparently until now, with Parker facing former city attorney Gene Locke in a runoff election on Dec. 12.

According to the Houston Chronicle this weekend:

A cluster of socially conservative Houstonians is planning a campaign to discourage voters from choosing City Controller Annise Parker in the December mayoral runoff because she is a lesbian, according to multiple ministers and conservatives involved in the effort.

The group is motivated by concerns about a “gay takeover” of City Hall, given that two other candidates in the five remaining City Council races are also openly gay, as well as national interest driven by the possibility that Houston could become the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay woman.

And just who are the leaders behind this coming anti-gay smear campaign? Two religious-right leaders long familiar to the Texas Freedom Network: Dave Welch and Steven Hotze.

Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, told the Chronicle that he blames Parker for making her sexual orientation an issue:

“The bottom line is that we didn’t pick the battle, she did, when she made her agenda and sexual preference a central part of her campaign. National gay and lesbian activists see this as a historic opportunity. The reality is that’s because they’re promoting an agenda which we believe to be contrary to the concerns of the community and destructive to the family.”

A Chronicle editorial this weekend bluntly countered:

That’s a lie. While Parker has never made a secret of her sexuality, the campaign debate and agenda to date have been wholly defined by the issues facing the city and the comparative qualifications and experience of the candidates.

Welch has popped up on TFN’s radar several times in recent months. In June he attacked the Houston city officials for participating in a gay pride event that Welch said “promotes and glorifies sexual deviancy that most people find immoral as well as destructive to family and marriage.” In September he absurdly accused Texas social studies curriculum writers of engaging in anti-Christian bigotry. In February he attacked Christian clergy who see no conflict between their faith and accepting the science of evolution.

Hotze, a Houston physician, is perhaps even more of an extremist than Welch. In 1982 he campaigned to make it legal to discriminate against gay men and lesbians in housing in Austin. His effort failed. Hotze then moved on to Houston, where he became a leader in the city’s virulent anti-gay politics. In 1985 he campaigned successfully to overturn a Houston ordinance protecting gay city employees from job discrimination. That same year he recruited a “Straight Slate” of eight anti-gay candidates for City Council.

All of the “Straight Slate” candidates lost, but Hotze used his money and connections to turn himself into something of a kingmaker in Harris County Republican politics. And his agenda has extended beyond anti-gay politics into Christian Reconstructionism — a movement that seeks government and society based on fundamentalist Christian principles. As the Houston Press reported a few years ago:

Hotze was able to better articulate his views in 1986, when he was one of dozens of ministers, professionals and laypersons who signed the Coalition on Revival’s Manifesto for the Christian Church. The coalition claims on its Web site to be a national network of religious leaders aligned in a mission “to help the Church rebuild civilization on the principles of the Bible so God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.” They want all aspects of life — government, science and education — to adhere to fundamental biblical beliefs. These beliefs include the following:

• A wife may work outside the home only with her husband’s consent

• “Biblical spanking” that results in “temporary or superficial bruises or welts” should not be considered a crime

• No doctor shall provide medical service on the Sabbath

• All disease and disability is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve

• Medical problems are frequently caused by personal sin

• “Increased longevity generally results from obedience to specific Biblical commands”

• Treatment of the “physical body” is not a doctor’s highest priority

• Doctors have a priestly calling

• People receiving medical treatment are not immune from divine intervention or demonic forces

• Physicians should preach to their patients because salvation is the key to their health

• “Christians need better health to have more energy, tolerate more stress, get depressed less often, and be more creative than our non-Christian counterparts for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.”

Needless to say, that extremists like Hotze and Welch have decided to drag Houston politics once again into the gutter isn’t surprising. The question is whether their tactics will be as successful as they have sometimes been in the past.

11 thoughts on “The Religious Right Targets Houston Election

  1. “And they asked Him ‘was it lawful to heal on the Sabbath…’

    But what did ‘He’ know. He was only — in their eyes — God.

  2. Hoo boy, I see we have yet another whacked-out Christian Taliban Christofascist lunatic here. I expect we’ll see him shooting somebody soon.

    How is homosexuality “destructive to family and marriage”?

    I wonder if this a-hole would like to be “biblically spanked,” resulting in temporary bruises and or welts?

    I’m not a wife so I need not worry about working without my husband’s consent. But how is this law different from Taliban-run Afghanistan?

    No medical services on the Sabbath?
    Er, which Sabbath – the Jewish or Christian? And pinhead, there is no Halachic law against treating a patient on the Sabbath if the patient’s life is in danger. Check the Talmud. Oh wait, you a-holes reject the Talmud. That’s because you’re ignoramuses.

    All disease and disability was caused by Adam and Eve?
    Hoo boy, there is SO much I could write in response to that. But I’ll limit it to this: I thought you guys’ Christian God Jesus took care of sin. Wasn’t he the “lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world”? So why is sin still a problem?

    Personal sin? What is personal sin? How is it differentiated from public sin – or whatever the opposite of a personal sin would be?
    And again, I thought Jesus was supposed to have cured sin 2,000 years ago.

    Health related to Biblical commands?
    Well, there’s actually a grain of truth to that statement. In Judaism, we are taught that our bodies are temples of the soul, and it is a mitzvah to take care of our temples. But he says “specific” Biblical commands. Actually, there are no “specific” commandment to exercise and not smoke or drink. So would he care to elaborate on which of the 613 mitzvot are the “specific” commands?

    If treatment of the physical body is not a doctor’s highest priority, what is?

    Doctors have a “priestly calling”?
    Says whom? I already have a rabbi, thank you very much. Physicians aren’t trained to be rabbis, and rabbis aren’t trained to be physicians – unless they are both.

    “People receiving medical treatment are not immune from divine intervention or demonic forces.”
    Could he provide some proof to this statement? Doctors, being people of science, look for proof or evidence for their diagnoses. Could he please provide a proof of cause/effect?
    I diagnose pap smears: I separate the healthy ones from the unhealthy ones. All I see is evidence for disease or evidence of health. I cannot scientifically attribute either condition to divine intervention or demonic forces. If I entered such text into the diagnosis, I’d probably be shown to the door – and be told not to let it hit me on the butt on my way out.
    And if his statement above is true, then is the reverse also true? That being, “people not receiving medical treatment are immune from divine intervention or demonic forces.”

    “Physicians should preach to their patients because salvation is the key to their health.”
    I quit a physician because she preached at me. I was highly offended. Never have I been so addressed by a physician in my life. She must be a Christian Reconstructionist like these a-holes above. I do not preach at others. Whatever they want to believe is their business. What I believe is my business.
    And now that this a-hole has reminded me of how I was mistreated, I am going to file a complaint against that physician like I should have done long ago.

    “Christians need better health to have more energy, tolerate more stress, get depressed less often, and be more creative than our non-Christian counterparts for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.”
    I don’t know about anyone else but this statement is definitely a threat. I take it to mean a new Crusade – a war against non-Christians – is in the offing.

    Yep, Islamofascism and Christofascism have so much in common I expect them to join forces soon, actually.

  3. Fruitcakes right out of the oven are probably “Hotze” fruitcakes. Bullet 3 suggests to me that Hotze has never read the New Testament. It might pay to actually read the Bible before applying it. I speak specifically of the following verses in Matthew 12:

    8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

    9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:

    10 And, behold, there was a man which had [his] hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

    11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift [it] out?

    12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

    13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched [it] forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

  4. Gay men and women do much less to disrupt family values than Christians that have extra marital affairs (within the church) or church pastors that run away with their secretaries (both married to other people).

    I’m assuming that these people do not approve of Iran, yet that kind of state is exactly what they are promoting in the US, where (last I heard) freedom of religion was required.

  5. Charles:
    Hence my comment above. Your quote also reminds us that Jesus was, and remained throughout his life, an observant Jew, as is carefully detailed in Enslin’s CHRISTIAN BEGINNINGS, and the writings of Ehrman among many others. He ‘went into the synagogue’ because it was the Sabbath and time for services, not because he wished to confront those there.

    Some of your comments are very on target, particularly the ones dealing with medical matters and the like. One is understated and deserves a much closer look, and that is his acceptance of ‘bible-based baby beating’ which is not at all a ‘theoretical idea.’ James Dobson — who is, it should be remembered, a child psychologist, NOT a minister — recommends it in his books, and several ‘Christian child-rearing manuals’ are much worse than Dobson or Hotze, with one important one, WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT … CHILD TRAINING by J.R Fugate and R. Fugate, specifically recommending the precise size of the rods to be used on various ages of childhood, with ‘merely’ a blackboard pointer for toddlers up to fifteen months, up to a stick 1/2″ by 33″ for those 12 and up. See an article I wrote 3 years ago for more details, but warning, not for the ‘weak-stomached.’

    (This is not mere horn-tooting, since many Christianist Representatives have offered an innocuous-sounding Parental Rights Amendment that would protect parents who follow such practices, among other parental horrors.)

    On the other hand, the questions you raise about ‘sin’ come from a misunderstanding of the Christian teachings, which argue not that Jesus ‘cured’ sin, but that he provided a way to avoid the punishment that a sin — in their eyes, an infinite offense since it offends against the ‘infinite goodness of God’ — merits.

    (That last is also not ‘mere theological rambling’ because the consequence — Christians not being big on Cantorial mathematics — is that all sins are equally bad, theoretically raising masturbation to the seriousness of murder, in fact lowering murder to the seriousness of masturbation. This is why a recent Christian ‘thinker’ argued — sorry, doctor’s appointment keeps me from hunting the reference right now — argued that Christians who lied to protect Jews from the Holocaust were sinning because the lie was ‘certainly’ sinful, while telling the truth did not ‘certainly’ lead to their deaths.)

  6. Charles’ quotes from Matthew are not peculiar to Christianity. Jesus’ response to his opponents would have been the response of any rational Jew of his time. So were Jesus’ criticism of those who go around showing off their piety by displaying their very long tzitzit (the fringes on a tallit or prayer shawl). This is the same criticism any Jew of any time period would hold for “showy” piety. It would be heard in synagogues today.

    Prup, I was quoting from the New Testament: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ” John 1:29.
    I can’t help what the N.T. says.

    Judaism also has a “cure” for sin, or if you prefer, a way to avoid the punishment of sin; that being ‘teshuva,’ to repent and return. Yes, I understand Christianity rejects the Jewish “cure” as useless and obsolete so no need for us to go there.

    What is “cantorial mathematics”? Are we talking about trope and Torah chanting here?

    Yes, there is a prohibition against masturbation. “Spilling (or wasting) the seed” was seen as being equal to murder because a man who spilled his seed was not impregnating a woman, thus a baby was not produced. But you have to agree, it’s hard to believe that in the 21st century with all 6 billion of us that this prohibition is still taken with the same degree of severity as it was in ancient times when life was short and infant mortality very high. Except, perhaps within Orthodox communities. But I’m not sure how the topic of masturbation and murder relate to Dr. Hotze’s bulleted items above.

    In Judaism, almost any law can be broken to save a life. The Christian thinker may have been correct according to Christianity but not according to Judaism. According to Leviticus 25:17 : “You shall not wrong one another.” And this: Not to stand by idly when a human life is in danger (Lev. 19:16). One may lie – in fact, one must lie – to save a life. See: (Deut. 25:12): To save the pursued even at the cost of the life of the pursuer,
    and: (Deut. 25:12): Not to spare a pursuer, but he is to be slain before he reaches the pursued and slays the latter,…

    Again, another area in which Judaism and Christianity differ.

    As for Christian child-rearing, I don’t know if you are saying you approve of applying the rod or not. But, apparently, the rod is correct Christian parenting. Well, that is Christianity’s business although use of the rod isn’t peculiar to Christianity. Many parents of other faiths use the rod, and some use it liberally. If I understand correctly, rod use is found among traditional Muslim families. And not just on children but on adults too, especially women.

    So again, we find a parallel agreement among Christians and Muslims. Coincidental perhaps, but still there.

  7. Cytocop:
    I’m an ex-Catholic atheist — but religion fascinates me and I always want to try to understand both what particular variants believe and why. Of course Jesus, who died a believing — if eschatological Jew, and who seems likely to have studied at the school of Hillel, responded in many ways as just that. Even the “You have heard it said … but I say unto you” sequence in the Sermon on the Mount seems very siumilar to modern Talmud study and not the ‘claim of authority’ that later Christians — by then totally ignorant of Judaism ‘as she was spoke — thought it was.

    But when I hear a phrase used by any group, I don’t assume it means what it sounds like (see ‘theory’ as used by Creationists compared to how it is used by scientists. Thus my objection to your misreading of ‘who taketh away the sins of the world.’

    Actually, teshuva is very close to the Catholic — but not the Protestant idea. Which makes another point. I happen to live in a wonderfully mixed area of Brooklyn, but one which is probably slightly over 50% Jewish — of various groups and shades, from Jewish Atheists like my wife’s family to the very Orthodox rabbi next door to flat-hatted Hasidim. Were I to take ideas of the ultra-Orthodox, of the Hasidim or the Lubavitchers and impute them to Jews as a whole, you’d rightly scream at me.

    But to a certain extent you are doing the same for the ideas of the fundies, the Rapturists (and the Rapture was unheard of in 99.9% of even Fundamentalist Christianity a few years ago and was the invention of a very strange early 19th Century preacher named Darby — I don’t think any non-American Christians do anything but scratch their heads at it.), the bible-based baby beaters and the like. These are not “Christian” ideas — not sure anything quite deserves that phrase if we get too technical — but ideas of one loud and growing minority even among American Christians.

    Did I speak that unclearly about ‘bible-based baby beating’ that you did not realize how horrible i thought it was? If so, my apologies. And that more than the rest is not “Christian” but representative of one small part of Christianity.

    And ‘Cantorial mathematics’ — it was a passing joke, btw referring to the previous clause and discussion of ‘the infinity of sin’ — refers to the mathematician Georg Cantor and his treatment of infinities, not to a religious singer.

    I’ve got to watch my — terminally long-winded and parenthetical — writing if it was that unclear to someone whose comments have usually been so knowing.

  8. Thank you very much, Prup. Now I understand “where you’re coming from.” OK, I understand that you were telling me that Dr. Hotze was basing his child-rearing philosophy on a book or books written by certain Christians; that Dr. Hotze hadn’t developed his ideas on his own. Not that you were endorsing what Dr. Hotze says.

    I don’t have time to look it up right now but isn’t there another scripture that mentions Jesus “washing” away sins? In fact, isn’t that the purpose of baptism – to wash away the sin of Adam and Eve that children are born with? I don’t know of any verse in the N.T. that says Jesus takes away (or washes away) the punishment for sins but rather he takes away sins. But maybe I’ve forgotten.

    OK about cantorial mathematics. (*grin*). I misunderstood.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I was raised in a mainstream Protestant denomination in a family that would now be considered very liberal by today’s Protestants. I converted to Judaism as an adult but I am so liberal I’m bordering on agnostic. When I point out what the Jewish Bible says or what Judaism says it’s because that’s what the Jewish Bible says and what I’ve been taught; not necessarily because I always believe it literally; I am so NOT a Bible literalist – except to point out what it actually says – rather than means. (If that makes any sense.)

    Oh, and your typing is fine. Hey, I used to be a medical transcriptionist and even my typing isn’t perfect!

  9. [Here’s dessert. Found it on the worldwide net. Tim]


    To see the long hidden side of the 179-year-old, British-invented-and-American-merchandised, apocalyptic “rapture” mania, Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers)” (the sloppy copyist “genius” that Lindsey, LaHaye and other “rapture” tycoons lean on!), “LaHaye’s Temperament,” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Thieves’ Marketing,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “The Newest Pretrib Calendar,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” for starters. The author of these items plus the bestselling nonfiction book “The Rapture Plot” (available online) is journalist/historian Dave MacPherson who has uniquely focused for 40 years on the bizarre history of this endtime craze which is anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic and anti- just about everyone else! MacPherson is the one who has researched throughout Britain and aired so much rapturesque “dirty linen” he’s found behind the scenes (clever revisionism of early 19th century documents, rampant plagiarism, phony doctorates, Swaggart-type scandals etc.) that he is now No. 1 on the hate lists of the leading “rapture” money-changers! As everyone’s black, dust-covered book says, “There is nothing hidden that won’t be revealed….”

  10. (saw this just now while I was using my computer – really different! Bobette)


    Many are still unaware of the eccentric, 180-year-old British theory underlying the politics of American evangelicals and Christian Zionists.
    Journalist and historian Dave MacPherson has spent more than 40 years focusing on the origin and spread of what is known as the apocalyptic “pretribulation rapture” – the inspiration behind Hal Lindsey’s bestsellers of the 1970s and Tim LaHaye’s today.
    Although promoters of this endtime evacuation from earth constantly repeat their slogan that “it’s imminent and always has been” (which critics view more as a sales pitch than a scriptural statement), it was unknown in all official theology and organized religion before 1830.
    And MacPherson’s research also reveals how hostile the pretrib rapture view has been to other faiths:
    It is anti-Islam. TV preacher John Hagee has been advocating “a pre-emptive military strike against Iran.” (Google “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism.”)
    It is anti-Jewish. MacPherson’s book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books etc.) exposes hypocritical anti-Jewishness in even the theory’s foundation.
    It is anti-Catholic. Lindsey and C. I. Scofield are two of many leaders who claim that the final Antichrist will be a Roman Catholic. (Google “Pretrib Hypocrisy.”)
    It is anti-Protestant. For this reason no major Protestant denomination has ever adopted this escapist view.
    It even has some anti-evangelical aspects. The first publication promoting this novel endtime view spoke degradingly of “the name by which the mixed multitude of modern Moabites love to be distinguished, – the Evangelical World.” (MacPherson’s “Plot,” p. 85)
    Despite the above, MacPherson proves that the “glue” that holds constantly in-fighting evangelicals together long enough to be victorious voting blocs in elections is the same “fly away” view. He notes that Jerry Falwell, when giving political speeches just before an election, would unfailingly state: “We believe in the pretribulational rapture!”
    In addition to “The Rapture Plot,” MacPherson’s many internet articles include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” (massive plagiarism, phony doctorates, changing of early “rapture” documents in order to falsely credit John Darby with this view, etc.!).
    Because of his devastating discoveries, MacPherson is now No. 1 on the “hate” list of pretrib rapture leaders!
    There’s no question that the leading promoters of this bizarre 19th century end-of-the-world doctrine are solidly pro-Israel and necessarily anti-Palestinian. In light of recently uncovered facts about this fringe-British-invented belief which has always been riddled with dishonesty, many are wondering why it should ever have any influence on Middle East affairs.
    This Johnny-come-lately view raises millions of dollars for political agendas. Only when scholars of all faiths begin to look deeply at it and widely air its “dirty linen” will it cease to be a power. It is the one theological view no one needs!
    With apologies to Winston Churchill – never has so much deception been foisted on so many by so few!

    [Also Google “David Letterman’s Hate, Etc.”]