Here they go again — another effort to drag churches into partisan politics.
This fall Vision America, a religious-right group based in Texas, is sponsoring “40 Days to Save America” — which calls on Americans to pray, fast and repent for “our national and and personal sins against the God of Heaven.” Rick Scarborough, Vision America’s president, says of the event:
“While we are deeply troubled by the direction in which our nation is headed this is not a political effort. The political problems which beset us are symptoms of a deeper spiritual malaise. In times of national tribulation, our people have often been urged to humbly turn to God in prayer.”
It’s not a political effort? So then why have those 40 days stretch from September 28 to November 6 — election day? And the official list of supporters includes right-wing Republican congressmen and a virtual “who’s who” of religious-right groups that typically back GOP candidates, such as the American Family Association, Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America. Of course this is “a political effort.”
“Our national survival is at stake,” the organizers declare on the “40 Days” website. And in what has become a typical political organizing tool, the website calls on pastors to sign up to participate in the 40-day project:
“On the weekend of November 3-4, Clergymen will stand before their congregations and call them to vote their values on November 6th, asking God to give us men and women who will lead us once again into being a light to the world.”
The Texas Freedom Network supports the right of all Americans — including clergy — to engage in the political process. But we draw the line when it comes to dragging churches and other houses of worship into partisan politics.
We’ve heard the “it’s not about politics” line too many times from the religious right. We were told that the Texas Restoration Project wasn’t about politics in 2005 — but major donors to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s election campaigns were secretly funneling nearly $1.3 million into that organization’s efforts to get pastors to politicize their churches. Last summer we were told that Gov. Perry’s prayer extravaganza in Houston wasn’t about politics — but it was, as subsequent events showed.
Now we’re told that “40 Days” isn’t “a political effort” — even though the project is set to the election calendar and involves, once again, persuading pastors to politicize their congregations. Don’t believe it.