I have now received two copies of a letter reportedly sent by the pastor of First Baptist to his congregation telling them to vote for specific candidates in the school board elections. If this letter turns out to be authentic, the pastor has clearly violated the church’s tax exempt status. Luckily for him, our state has an Attorney General who will not enforce that law.
This is an excerpt from the letter:
Dear First Baptist Pflugerville Family,
If you live in the Pflugerville Independent School District, I want to call your attention to something of great importance that needs your personal and immediate attention.
Our School Board election is going on RIGHT NOW. Early voting started yesterday and will go through next Tuesday, May 7. Actual Election Day is on Saturday, May 11th. Times and voting locations can be found on the attachment.
EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US NEEDS TO VOTE IN THIS ELECTION! (Preferably during
this early voting period.) We need to vote in two races: Place #3 and Place #5.
In any election, there is only one question we need to answer: “For which candidates does GOD want me to vote?” As followers of Jesus, we vote for HIS priorities, not our priorities. That means we are always, first and foremost – “Christian Moral Values Voters.” We vote for the candidates who
best represent and defend the Lord’s moral values as He reveals them in Scripture.
Later in the letter he names the actual candidates:
Candidates for Place #3: Mario Acosta vs Tony Hanson
Candidates for Place #5: Carol Fletcher vs Lance Sandlin
While he does not say the words “vote for my candidate” he says so by direct implication- that a Godly person will only vote one way in this election. I’m sure it is hard to stay civil when you believe you speak for God, but it seems to me the good pastor has violated the church’s tax exempt status, as well as any understanding of church and state boundaries, as well as simply being a good neighbor to the GLBT community.
And where does such a campaign end? The Bible also says that those who divorce and remarry are committing adultery. Will that be the next campaign for First Baptist, to purge remarried divorcees from office? Will it be to stone them as the Bible clearly commands? And if they do not launch such a campaign, why are they taking the Bible literally for gays, but not for straights?
Speaking of the church’s earlier campaign to oppose domestic partner benefits, David Welch wrote:
We gathered information from the Attorney General’s office, legislators and national organizations such as Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation to help prepare Pastor Steve and team for October 18 PISD Board of Trustees meeting. We worked with State Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) who was author of the legislation that became the definition of marriage amendment to the Texas Constitution to prepare a letter (see below also) that Steve read on record to the board (see below) confirming legislative intent to protect marriage from other counterfeits such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.
In his conclusion we read the troubling words:
We have a strong case because we VOTED in a godly Attorney General who is like a rock on defending life, marriage and religious liberty.
In other words, Mr. Welch seems to be saying that our state now has an attorney general who does not represent secular law, but who has a theocratic understanding of government. By “religious liberty,” he certainly does not mean the liberty of religious liberals. We will be grouped with the ungodly, the homosexuals and the heathen only to be rolled over by the good folks at First Baptist, Pflugerville.
If the letter I have seen turns out to be inauthentic I will issue a public apology to the pastor of First Baptist Church. If the letter turns out to be real, he owes the rest of us an apology for using our school board to try to cram his religion down our throats. He can defend heterosexual families without taking insurance coverage from the families who aren’t.