How Extreme Will the Texas GOP Get?

UPDATE: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that immigration is likely to be a key point of contention in the Texas GOP’s platform debate this weekend. Other platform proposals are expected from “birthers” who don’t believe President Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen and people who want Republicans to support the Constitution against threats by “Sharia law adherents living in the United States of America and the rest of the world.”

Will Texas Republicans this weekend succeed in loosening the grip that the religious right and other extremist factions have over their state party? We’ll find out when the Texas GOP holds its 2010 convention Friday and Saturday (June 11-12) at the Dallas Convention Center, but our guess is traditional conservatives and moderates will be disappointed once again.

The 2008 state Republican platform — as with other platforms since the religious right took control of the Texas GOP in the early 1990s — was a classic exercise in political extremism. Here’s just a taste of what the 2008 platform had to say:

  • Separation of church and state is a “myth.”
  • Public schools should emphasize instruction on Judeo-Christian principles.
  • Government should repeal laws, such as Motor Voter and the Help America Vote Act, that have made voter registration easier for citizens.
  • All minimum wage laws should be repealed.
  • Public schools should teach nothing about sex education except abstinence-only-until-heterosexual-marriage.
  • The United States should withdraw from the United Nations and other international organizations.
  • Public school science classes should teach “intelligent design”/creationism alongside evolution.
  • Public tax dollars should be used to fund private and religious schools through vouchers.
  • Government should criminalize promising medical research using embryonic stem cells, research that many scientists believe offers the most hope for people suffering from serious medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injuries.
  • Congress should pass legislation (the Constitution Restoration Act of 2005)  limiting (including by threat of impeachment) the power of federal courts, including the Supreme Court, to hear challenges to actions by government or government officials that may have violated the Constitution’s establishment clause protecting religious freedom.
  • Texas should once again criminalize private and consensual sexual intimacy between people of the same sex, bar adoption by gay and lesbian parents, and restrict the freedom of a gay parent from visiting his or her own biological child.

Why are we pessimistic that Texas Republicans will move their platform closer to the political center? For one thing, the convention’s Platform Committee appears stocked with plenty of Eagle Forum activists and other religious-righters. Here are other some other key members of that committee:

  • Mark Ramsey is an anti-science fanatic and head of a far-right group that calls for teaching public school students junk science attacking evolution and supporting “intelligent design”/creationism. Ramsey’s group regularly attacks other Republicans who support teaching about evolution, suggesting that they “are plotting with well known liberals, including pro-abortionists, Darwinists, and ACLU members.”
  • Kyleen Wright is head of Texans for Life Coalition, a radical anti-abortion group that adamantly opposes teaching students anything about sex education other than abstinence-only-until-heterosexual-marriage.
  • Randy Rives is a former chairman of the Ector County (Odessa) Independent School District Board of Trustees who pushed through the adoption of a deeply flawed, religiously biased Bible course curriculum that got the district sued. (The district agreed to stop using the curriculum.) Rives also succeeded in persuading the board to adopt an abstinence-only, ignorance-based curriculum for sex education classes in a county with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation.

We will post an analysis of the new Texas Republican Party platform once it becomes available.

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23 Comments

  1. Bryan
    Posted June 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    William,

    I could only find this link to a PDF: http://static.texastribune.org/media/documents/FINAL_2010_STATE_REPUBLICAN_PARTY_PLATFORM.pdf

    Can’t vouch for its authenticity. It’s interesting that the TX GOP appears to lack interest in publicizing their platform.

  2. William
    Posted June 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    In the original post, there is a link to what I believe was a list of the Platform Committee members on the Texas GOP site. When clicking the link, I get a blank page for the Republican Party of Texas. Anyone know how to find the complete list so I can share with interested parties?

  3. JakeH
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    How extreme? Making it a FELONY to perform a RELIGIOUS CEREMONY with people they don’t approve of.

  4. Amanda
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    I grew up Southern Baptist in Central Texas in the 90s in an “old money” (not as fundamentalist) congregation. Our youth minister devoted several weeks to Mormonism because he saw it as such a dangerous cult – we also “learned” about Satanism shortly after. We also went on a mission trip to Utah/Idaho/Wyoming, mostly to support some nascent Baptist/”non-denominational” churches up there, but were not above a little door-knocking to promote the Vacation Bible School we were conducting at one of those churches.

    I have since become an Episcopalian, as well as generally voting Democratic – upon going to the East Coast for college, where I met and became friends with actual Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists and yes, even a Mormon, I couldn’t maintain the belief that our way was the only way. Becoming fully aware of my equality as a woman and getting to know some middle-aged gay people with very normal lives also contributed :)

    Part of me feels that I should have stayed and fought from within for the faith and party I grew up in, but on the whole, they both seem to be too far gone for one young woman to make any difference. They’re not exactly groups that value the dissenting opinions of young women…

  5. Charles
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Grace:

    With the exception of some recent political pats on the back from people like Mike Huckaby, I have never seen the Southern Baptists give the Mormons a welcome embrace. When I was in graduate school, I did a resarch paper on the Mormons, one my professor actually wanted me to publish, but I never bothered. The references I read made it quite clear that conservative churches (which include the Southern Baptists) regard the Mormon faith as a nonChristian cult.

    Since 1979, when the Southern Baptist Convention was taken over by the Religious Right, I would find it hard to believe that they have a much more than distant and very feigned affection for the Mormons. Think about it this way. If Southern Baptists treated their own fellow baptists and many of their missionaries as enemies of Christ and treated them abysmally (in a manner approximately synonymous with hatred in terms of the end results and how the victimized people felt), why then should I or anyone else believe that they would treat the Mormons any differently, had they the power to do so.

    Bottomline: NonCBF Southern Baptists today are Christian fundamentalists. Christian fundamentalists believe that anyone who diagrees with their theology or understanding of the Bible is an enemy of Christ in one way or another. They proved that by the mean-spirited way they have treated many of their own people since 1979. They do not cuddle up to people they define as enemies of Christ. They may say that they love them, but talk is cheap. Like I said, I have not seen the Southern Baptists welcoming the mormons or embracing them as fellow believers. When I see that, I might back off more on the word “hate.”

  6. Bryan
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Grace,
    I completely believe you when you say that you do not know a Southern Baptist that hates Mormons. For educational (and, somewhat, entertainment) purposes, I read the threads posted on Mormonism on a very popular right-wing website that shall remain nameless. Virtually all of the posts make the same claim. They don’t hate Mormons, and I believe them. But they ___ (use your own adjective of derision) MORMONISM. And I believe them, too.

    Warren Jeffs is the posterboy for fundamentalist LDS, which many of the Christian posters on that particular website lump together LDS conventional variety. So, I think Charles is on the money pointing out that the potential exists for Christian fundamentalists to go extra-medieval on Mr. Jeffs.

    To support that position, I would ask: How do you feel about Mormonism? Do you believe that Mormons (fundamentalist or “conventional”, for lack of a better term) are Christians? Do you know any SBs that consider Mormonism not just un-Christian, but anti-Christian?

    With respect to the “loss of individual freedoms”, how do you square that with the TX GOP platform that wants to the ability enact sodomy laws. How personal and individual can you get?

  7. Ben
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Grace, like David said, you sound reasonable (and even normal!) to me. Not that I agree with all your statements, but such is life. I can handle that. You are nothing like McLeroy, Dunbar, and the rest of their merry band.

  8. David Xavier
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    Charles, if Jeff Warren decides to continue his self harm and die in prison…great! Here’s some pictures of Jeff and his “alleged” 12 , 14 yr old brides. The pictures are why the investigation in Texas was started….sometimes even Christian fundamentalists and Southern Baptists , do things for reasons other than spite and hatred of the ‘other’. A trait you dont share perhaps?

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0527081flds1.html

    Let us pray for Texas and its hanging judges.

  9. John C
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I take no pride in my ignorance, Grace. I am still open to other ways of seeing the world. However I do draw the line at teaching ID in the science curriculm.
    Taxes rise and fall.At the moment the US is still pulling through the Global Financial Crisis.
    The Bush and Obama administrations believed that big corporations had to be bailed out and to avoid a recession the economy had to be stimulated. It seems like a strategy that is working. Taxes may have to rise but
    taxes are the price you pay for civilization.

  10. David
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    John , the further to the nazi right wing fringe these people get, the less support they’ll get from rational people and responsible adults.
    Grace, you sound mostly reasonable. Even the atheists here don’t want to “remove God from schools”, they just want to maintain the secular principles our nation was founded on, and under which, by the way, Christianity has flourished.

  11. Charles
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Only people who have an element of “humble little children” within them can be moved by shame, ridicule, argument, or satire. And just like Pharoah, the Religious Right in Texas hardened its heart.

  12. Grace
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    OK, guys & gals… maybe you should take a look at your own ignorance and be ashamed. I do not know one single Southern Baptist that hates Mormons and I was raised Southern Baptist. In fact one of my fishing buddies is Mormon and I think she is a wonderful person. So, maybe YOU should not be so fast to judge others. Furthermore, I see myself as very conservative and have always voted Republican in Presidential races, but that certainly does not mean that I agree with this entire list of things you think make up the GOP platform or with the candidates that ran for office. Teaching abstinence is ideological, but it does NOT work. The strength of hormones outweigh anything they have been taught when they reach puberty, so someone needs to teach our kids about the birds and the bees. Personally, I do not agree with gay lifestyles; however, I strongly feel this is gay people’s business, not mine. As long as it is not shoved into my face or pressured upon my children, I really do not care how they chose to live or what they want to do. Also, I do NOT support Shari law, and neither do many Muslims for the reason that it is cruel and I don’t particularly care for Islam, but as long as they do not threaten me, my family, or my way of life, I could care less what they do. Finally, I do not think religion needs to be taught in school, BUT I also do not think God should be kicked out of schools. People should be, and are allowed to pray at the flagpole, etc… and to use the word God when pledging to the US flag, just as I did as a kid. Even if you want to throw Him out of the schools, it is not going to work. He is everywhere… Finally, what I AM very concerned about and what makes me continue to support the GOP is the Democrat’s lack of concern over the government’s spending, the increase in government control, and loss of individual freedoms.. which ultimately will be supported by an increase in my tax dollars. As far as I am concerned, I already give the government more than their share of the money I earn. Oh, Hell… I guess none of this really matters anyway because I am just an insane Texan.

  13. John C
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about that David.
    These people are proud 0f their ignorance. They cannot be shamed and are unmoved by argument, ridicule or satire.
    And supported by Fox.

  14. David
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    The more extreme they get, the better.

  15. Doc Bill
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to see the morons use the phrase “Christian-Judeic” instead. At least that would explain why we have fruitcake instead of pickled herring.

  16. Charles
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    It might pay TFN to watch this court case closely. The article below notes that all sexual misconduct charges were dismissed against Warren Jeffs in Arizona. However, he is up on a whole ‘nother set of charges in Texas. Now, I know that no one at TFN, including myself, believes that anyone should be able to get away with the alleged sexual misconduct with minors that are at the center of the charges against Jeffs. You will recall that Jeffs was the leader of the reclusive band of Mormon polygamists who were allegedly taking “child brides.”

    Why this? Well, Christian fundamentalists and Southern Baptists have always had a very special hatred—ugh—dislike for Mormons of any kind. They will quickly tell you that all forms of Mormonism are unGodly cults. However, in their minds, the alleged activities of the Warren Jeffs Mormon colony probably ranks several 1000 miles higher up the scale of sin than sodomy with a constipated possum. Therefore, given the current Republican regime in Texas and its Christian fundamentalist core, it will be interesting to see how the Texas court system treats Jeffs. Will they try his case with a “hanging judge” to make a strong religious statement of disapproval? I bet they do. Moreover, I bet Warren Jeffs will die in a Texas prison. He is apparently quite sick now in Arizona—probably sick with fear because he knows his next stop is Texas and a Southern Baptist lynch mob.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_polygamist_leader

    Notice the “Oh Please. Not Texas” look on his face.

  17. Charles
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Well, after that article and the subsequent exchange of posts, I am speechless.

  18. Bryan
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    You left something off the list. It’s not just consensual sexual intimacy between people of the same sex that the GOP platform opposed, they want the ability to enact laws against sodomy:

    “Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”

    Granted, the wingnuts are targeting homosexuals, but sodomy laws aren’t sexuality-specific.

  19. Gary Cooper, McAllen, Texas
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    The stuff that Jews and Christians have in common is mostly stuff we also have in common with Muslims, but America’s fundamentalist theocrats don’t like to dwell on that.

  20. Doc Bill
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I would just like to point out that whenever I see morons, to be blunt, use the phrase “Judeo-Christian” I visualize the following:

    judeo- C H R I S T I A N ! ! !

    And if I could make the “Judeo” part smaller, like, 0.001 point font, that would be about it.

    I’d be willing to bet a years salary that a random poll of self-proclaimed “Christians” couldn’t tell you what the “Judeo” part meant. Srsly.

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Doc,
      At the Texas State Board of Education meeting in March, state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, insisted that it was very important for students to learn about what he called the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States. He then proceeded to butcher — multiple times — the pronunciation of Rosh Hashanah, which marks the Jewish New Year.

  21. James Allen
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Where are the sane Texans?

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