They're at it again! The Texas GOP Declares "America is a Christian nation"
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 12:07:45 AM EST
4,500 delegates participated in the biennial gathering of the  Texas GOP this past weekend. As reported in The Dallas Morning News:
The party platform, adopted Saturday, declares "America is a Christian nation" and affirms that "God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom."
"We pledge to exert our influence ... [to] dispel the myth of the separation of church and state," it says.

The Texas GOP Platform is not merely a document of extremist ideas. The proposals provide the backbone for both Bush administration policies and many legislative initiatives coming from our Republican-controlled Congress. The platform spells out a dominionist agenda , and, as such, is worthy of our attention..
Some highlights from the  Texas GOP Platform, 2004  (I don't think the 2006 platform is available yet as I couldn't find it on the web):

A greatly diminished federal government

Dominionists believe the federal government should recede into the background while the Church assumes responsibility for welfare and education. This shift would be achieved through massive tax cuts, faith-based initiatives and school vouchers.

Tax Cuts

"The Party urges the IRS be abolished," and the following taxes eliminated:
"income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, capital gains, corporate income tax, payroll tax and property tax."

" ... gradually phase out Social Security tax for a system of "private pensions.."
"Make President Bush's tax cuts permanent."

Downsizing the Federal Government:

We support the abolition of ... the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, the position of Surgeon General, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Labor. We also call for the de-funding or abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Public Broadcasting System.
Dominionists support massive deregulation of industry. The first three agencies listed in the above paragraph are all regulatory agencies. The Texas GOP Platform calls for business to be "unencumbered by excessive government regulation."

Faith-based Initiative

President Bush's faith-based initiative might seem like a contradiction to the notion, espoused in the platform, that all government social programs are "unconstitutional," and should be "repealed." After all, the faith-based initiative is another government program -- an infusion of tax dollars into church-run social programs. But the platform deals with this apparent contradiction:

Until such time as such unconstitutional spending programs are repealed, we believe that the faith-based initiative as proposed by President George W. Bush, and currently implemented, should continue to receive federal monies.

In other words, the church should assume responsibility for welfare and education. These programs would be funded through tithing -- collecting 10% of church members' income -- and through community, and business contributions. Until the churches have taken over welfare, the government would fund these programs. The faith-based initiative, then, is not an end in itself, but serves as a temporary measure until the United States becomes truly a "Christian" nation.


We call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education and the prohibition of the transfer of any of its functions to any other federal agency.

All early childhood programs should be phased out.
Teachers should be allowed to use corporal punishment with immunity.
The platform supports school vouchers.

The Family

"The Party recognizes that the family is a sovereign sphere of authority over which the state has no right to intervene ..."
Homosexuality should be criminalized
The platform supports the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) - this is an effort to establish abortion as murder. Murder is a capital crime. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe V. Wade, abortion will not become a states' right because UVVA declares a zygote a human being. Then abortion can be declared murder and outlawed nationally.

The Environment

"We reaffirm belief in the fundamental constitutional right of an individual to use property without governmental interference."
"We oppose conservation easements on our natural resources administered by organizations unaccountable to tax payers and voters." (That means land trusts and conservation groups would be declared unconstitutional.)

"We oppose the Endangered Species Act."

"We believe that groundwater is an absolute, vested right of the landowner."

"We oppose passage of any international treaty that overrides United States sovereignty including the Kyoto agreement and Biodiversity Treaty."

The United Nations

The Party believes it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership, as well as financial and military contributions to, the United Nations... The Party urges Congress to evict the United Nations from U.S. soil."

David Barton Steps Down

No one has done more to popularize the "Christian" nation ideal than David Barton who stepped down as Vice Chair of the Texas Republican Party at the recent gathering.  Barton, identified by Time Magazine as one of "America's twenty-five most influential evangelicals," is a self-taught historian. He has dredged up hundreds of fascinating historical quotes and anecdotes in an effort to prove that the founding fathers were primarily "orthodox, evangelical Christians" who intended to create a God-fearing Christian government.

"Even though his books and videos are riddled with factual errors, half truths and distortions," according to Rob Boston in Sects, Lies and Videotape

they have become the weapons of choice for Religious Right activists in their ongoing war against separation of church and state.
Boston documents Barton's ties not only to Christian Reconstructionist groups, but also to neo-Nazi racist and anti-Semitic groups.

Beliefnet reported that Barton has served as a paid consultant to the Republican National Committee:

The Republican National Committee is employing the services of a Texas-based activist who believes the United States is a "Christian nation" and the separation of church and state is "a myth."

I wonder what he's going to do next.

adds some "Christian" language about healing the sick. In keeping with its new crusade against immigration from Mexico, the Texas GOP evidently believes Jesus doesn't think that brown people deserve medical care, as its 2006 platform now advocates "elimination of all laws requiring hospitals to give non-emergency medical care to illegal immigrants."

And lots of other very extreme stuff.

The only thing that keeps Texas from being worse off than Mississippi is that we still have some stand-up Democrats.

Before the Republicans' first main session, two Democratic state legislators from San Antonio stood outside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to welcome the group -- and to criticize its immigration stance.

"Don't forget to tip the immigrant who's going to clean your room and serve your meal," said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer.

You have to admire their continuing struggle for the survival of our public schools, in a legislature that's largely bought and paid for by hard-line multimillionaires who want publicly funded vouchers for private religious schools.

"There is only one reason that this issue is before us when most members don't want to vote on it, and it is because a major contributor is in the back hall."
--Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) talking about vouchers and Jim Leininger.

by moiv on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 01:11:57 AM EST

The platform supports the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) - this is an effort to establish abortion as murder. Murder is a capital crime. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe V. Wade, abortion will not become a states' right because UVVA declares a zygote a human being. Then abortion can be declared murder and outlawed nationally.

As of September 1, 2003, Texas already can impose capital punishment for the death of an embryo or fetus, except in the course of a "lawful medical procedure."  That is why a physician in this state now can be subject to the death penalty for providing an abortion to a minor without written parental consent -- which makes an abortion "unlawful."

That's our lege . . .

by moiv on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 01:25:03 AM EST

From the Dallas Morning News:

At Saturday morning's prayer meeting, party leader Tina Benkiser assured them that God was watching over the two-day confab.

"He is the chairman of this party," she said.

by Joan Bokaer on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:34:19 AM EST

Texas was in fact one of the first states explicitly targeted by dominionists (being a key electoral state):

(from The Anatomy of Power: Texas and the Religious Right in 2006, a publication by Texas Freedom Network that should be required reading regarding dominionist political movements in that state)

Across the country, the foundation of the Republican Party had begun to shift in the late 1970s. Evangelical Christian leaders at the time were becoming increasingly disenchanted with President Jimmy Carter - a Democrat as well as a "born again" Christian. When Ronald Reagan brought the Republican Party to power in 1980, he did so with the strong backing of Christian conservative leaders such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority. Over the next decade, Falwell, broadcaster Pat Robertson and other Christian evangelicals began to build a power base within the Republican Party.

Robertson took the first overt steps in creating a political machine within the party itself. In 1986, while preparing to run for president, Robertson distributed among Iowa supporters an important memo under the heading, "How to Participate in a Political Party." "Rule the world for God," the memo read. "Give the impression you are there to work for the party, not to push an ideology; hide your strength; don't flaunt your Christianity." The memo went on to explain, "Christians need to take leadership positions. Party officers control political parties and so it is very important that mature Christians have a majority of leadership positions whenever possible, God willing." 5 Two years later Robertson finished a strong second in the Iowa Republican Party caucuses. He ultimately lost the GOP presidential nomination to George H.W. Bush, but he had revealed a key strategy by which Christian conservatives would take over the party machinery itself. Indeed, from the mid-1980s, they had worked precinct-by-precinct to take over the Iowa party leadership at the local level until, eventually, they controlled the state party apparatus. One tactic was to drag out precinct meetings for hours and then take control when people decided they had had enough and left. Social conservatives who remained at the caucus meeting then appointed themselves leaders.6

The strategy worked well enough to export to other states. In Texas, journalists attending Republican Party events in the early 1990s witnessed the tipping point at which committee after committee at the precinct level fell under the sway of Christian conservatives. "The socalled Christian activists have finally gained control," read the resignation letter of the president of the Alamo City Republican Women's club in 1993. "The Grand Old Party is more religious cult than political organization." 7 The same year Steven Hotze, a conservative Christian activist, ousted the Harris County (Houston) party chair.8 Hotze eventually worked his way on to the Republican Party of Texas Executive Committee. He was also a member of the National Coordinating Council (NCC), a political arm of the Coalition on Revival (COR). The COR was an organization that openly proposed "Christianizing" America, in part by taking over government beginning with local councils and county sheriff 's offices. Over time the group also sought to abolish public schools, the Federal Reserve and the federal Internal Revenue Service.

Hotze kept close ties to another COR/NCC activist, Gary DeMar, follower of a religious philosophy known by various names, including "Dominionism," "Christian Reconstructionism" and "Restorationism." Dominionist doctrine holds that men must legislate God's kingdom into existence, with society based on biblical law. Hotze sponsored DeMar as a speaker at Republican Party functions, and he used DeMar's books in seminars he taught.9 Hotze's desire to use his position within the party to advance the ideas of Dominionism marks him as a political forerunner of the current Texas Republican Party vice chair, David Barton. (See Chapter 4 for a full report on Barton.)

Purges of non-dominionists from the Republican Party in Texas began as early as 1994:
When a preliminary vote at the Texas GOP convention in 1994 gave Pauken a commanding lead in the race for party chair, his main rivals - U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis and Dolly Madison McKenna of Houston - withdrew well ahead of a formal vote, avoiding a potentially bitter floor fight at the convention. Taking advantage of their momentum, social conservatives altered the party's rules to delete a statement that expressed acceptance of all religious views. Colleen Parro, executive director of the Republican National Coalition for Life, particularly objected to Reed's statement that "the Republican Party is not a church," a phrase the more moderate McKenna had used in a speech to delegates. "I might remind you that [McKenna] was not elected chairman of this party," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Parro said to cheers from the convention floor. She continued, "Are you Republicans or are you Democrats?" 18

The Purge Begins

That same year religious-right activists began to redefine the terms of Parro's question: to be a Republican in Texas meant that one was not only a social conservative, but also a particular kind of Christian conservative. Tom Pauken may not have seen himself as part of the religious right, but under his leadership the GOP convention adopted a stridently anti-abortion, anti-gay platform that found its justifications in literalist and selective interpretations of the Old and New Testament. The document detailed a sweeping vision of an America in which only the private sector provides healthcare, English is the only official language, the state sponsors prayer in schools, sex education is banned in schools, abortion is illegal and immigration and federal funding for the arts are halted.19 In fact, party platforms more and more read much like religious tracts. The 2004 Texas Republican Party platform, for example, declares that "the United States of America is a Christian nation" and attacks as "myth" any idea that the U.S. Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. The platform also calls for tax-funded vouchers to subsidize tuition at religious and private schools and for public schools to emphasize "Judeo-Christian principles." (See Appendix C for a summary of the 2004 Texas Republican Party platform.)

The overwhelming approval by convention delegates of these increasingly religious party platforms has masked underlying tensions between longtime traditional Republicans and ascendant Christian conservatives. Indeed, the party's new rulers in the 1990s viewed even Gov. George W. Bush with suspicion in the early years of his administration, in part because of his relatively cozy relationships with Democrats who still held state offices. In 1996, just two years after Gov. Bush won election to office, Christian conservatives moved to block him from leading the Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention. They also tried, unsuccessfully, to deny U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison - a Republican who supports abortion rights - from being part of the Texas convention delegation at all.

5 Theocracy Watch, "Taking Over the Republican Party"
6 Ibid.
7 Conason, Joe. "With God As Their Co-Pilot," Playboy, March, 1993.
8 "The Great Right Hope" by Frederick Clarkson, Institute for First Amendment Studies, 1993.
9 Ibid.
18 "Republicans choose Tom Pauken over Joe Barton and Dolly Madison McKenna as the new party chairman." Ron Hutcheson, Star-Telegram
19 "GOP Religious Right Flexes Muscle in Texas" by Scott Pendleton, The Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 1994

by dogemperor on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 08:49:20 AM EST

That one's a doozy.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 12:15:54 PM EST

to sue the Texas GOP under the establishment clause?

I would think that this crosses some sort of line in the sand that makes the GOP a religious group more than a political party...


by EmilyWynn8 on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 06:30:51 PM EST

Or something like that. He seems kind of tight with this Texas theocrastic GOP in my opinion.

by nonlinear on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:43:12 PM EST

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