New Report Details Religious Right Influence In Texas Politics

The Texas Freedom Network (TFN), a statewide group that supports church-state separation, has just issued a new report detailing the Religious Right’s rise to political power in the Lone Star State.

“The Anatomy of Power: Texas and the Religious Right in 2006” examines the Religious Right’s control over the Republican Party of Texas and includes chapters on well-heeled voucher advocate James Leininger, “Christian nation” propagandist David Barton and the Texas Restoration Project, an effort to lure conservative churches into partisan politics.

According to the TFN report, the Religious Right in the state “has tightened its grip on the Republican Party of Texas and now completely controls the party leadership. In fact, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between the movement and the party in leadership, political goals and tactics.”

This came about in part, the report notes, thanks to Leininger’s financial support. Leininger has spent $10 million since 1997 to solidify the GOP’s control over the state legislature. He is now, the report charges, “working to purge from office those Republicans who fail to support fully the religious right’s public policy agenda.”

Backing that push is the Texas Restoration Project, a movement ostensibly formed to promote a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That amendment has been passed, and critics say the Project’s next goal is to re-elect Gov. Rick Perry.

Observes the report’s executive summary, “The religious right is already flexing its muscle in the 2006 elections. Private school vouchers, abortion and evolution have been part of the campaign debate in races for the Legislature, the State Board of Education and for statewide office. Regardless of the outcome of this year’s elections, however, the religious right’s influence over public policy in Texas will likely be a problem for years to come.”

The report includes seven appendices: a list of key Religious Right figures in the state; a compilation of extreme quotes by Religious Right leaders in 2005; a review of the Texas Republican Party platform from 2004 and a preview of what to expect in 2006; a list of political action committees and pressure groups associated with the Religious Right that offers data on leaders, finances and other information; a “who’s who” listing speakers at Texas Restoration Project events in 2005 and a sampling of far-right Web sites aimed at Texans.

To read the full report, visit www.tfn.org.