Texas Theocracy Watch is a service of Secular Texas,Â an ad hoc group of citizens advocating for the concerns of the secular community of Texas. We seek a rational state government that enacts policy based on scientific realities. Secular Texas also addresses any attempt to use State or Local government resources or power to endorse religion, or provide privilege to religious institutions in Texas.
With researchers and observers in Austin, Texas Theocracy Watch reports and comments on religion creeping into our state and local governments and the State Board of Education. It is our goal to keep the secular community up to date on news related to secular government in Texas and around the nation, as other states are often used as testing grounds for religious legislation.Â In addition, Texas Theocracy Watch attemptes to bring context and a rational, sober analysis to the current events of Texas politics, as relate to our goals.
We strive for rational and reason based analysis, and to provide accurate facts and context. Our writers and editors are always open to factual corrections, learning more about matters of public policy and considering reasoned and evidence based arguments. If you have anything to add to the discussion, please feel free to contact us with your thoughts or concerns.
Theocracy in Texas
Theocracy is an authoritarian form of government meant to enforce âGod's Lawâ, typically as interpreted through a religious establishment. This may seem extreme and far from reality in the United States, and it mostly is. However, a re-shaping of our laws into accordance with the Bible is actually the stated goal of some powerful conservative Christians and even some successful Texas politicians. Texas Theocracy Watch is meant to keep an eye on these attempts, to ensure liberty for all belief and non-belief systems. We report on religious incursions into our state and local governments in Texas, as well as celebrating secular government with equal access to and treatment by the government for all.
It is no secret that the influence of the Tea Party is strong in the state of Texas, with our top state politicians tripping over themselves to be more conservative than the rest, in order to better appeal to Tea Party voters. According to aÂ poll conducted by the New York Times, the second strongest factor in predicting if somebody will align themselves with the Tea Party, after being Republican, is a desire âto see religion play a prominent role in politics.â We have seen exactly this in Texas, with the rise of politicians such as Ted Cruz and Dan Patrick, and with long-term statewide politicians such as Gov. Rick Perry and AG Greg Abbott realigning their rhetoric to better fit the biblical views of Tea Party supporters.
In speaking about the need for greater Christian influence in government, Gov. Rick Perry said, âSomebodyâs values are going to decide what the Congress votes on or what the president of the United States is going to deal with. And the question is: Whose values? And let me tell you, it needs to beÂ ourÂ valuesâvalues and virtues that this country was based upon in Judeo-Christian founding fathers.â It is completely understandable to want your core values to be represented in your government. However, the very basis of our government is the individual rights of all people. When religious convictions begin to be implemented through laws that deny personal liberties and impose those beliefs on others, this is when we begin to border on Theocracy.
In justifications of his attempts to impose his religious beliefs through laws Dan Patrick has stated, â[O]ur Founding Fathers understood we were a nation founded on the Word of God of the Old & New Testament.â In fact, Dan Patrick sees no reason to not implement his religion as law. He has said, âThere is no separation of church and state.â Patrick regularly speaks of the need to align our government with his god.
Greg Abbott, when speaking against marriage equality has said, in complete disregard for our legal system, âMarriage is Godâs lawâ¦ man cannot rewrite Godâs law.â This seems a bit too close to the mark of Christian Nationalist Gary Northâs proclamation that âtrue religious liberty is exclusively for people to obey the social laws of the Bible.â Abbott has demonstrated that he is not concerned with good law or equal treatment by the law, but only in upholding the law of his god.
Theocracy is not only a problem in its outright form, attempting to inject biblical law into our state law, but in its more subtle influences as well. In 2011, faced with our worst drought in almost 100 years, Gov. Rick Perry did not lead Texas in building an infrastructure for potable and agricultural water supplies, but instead he gave up. âI think itâs time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, âGod: Youâre going to have to fix this.ââ He then wasted his time, and our stateâs leadership, in religious gatherings to pray for rain. Gov. Perry did not do this as a matter of personal religious action, but as official state business. He issued an official press release as governor of Texas, âNow, therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.â The success of Gov. Perryâs attempt to âgive this problem over to godâ left much to be desired. Perryâs prayers were not followed by rain, but by a worsening of the drought and one of the most destructive wild fires in the history of Texas.
While Theocracy is dangerous in its attempts to impose the religious convictions of a portion of the population on the entire population, destroying individual freedom, it is even more dangerous in what it allows our politicians not to do: namely, planning for the future of our stateâs infrastructure, environment and economy. After all, if âGod is in controlâ, then why do we need to plan for the future?
The most popular refrain heard from Texas citizens defending the incursions of religion on government, such as prayer at school board and city council meetings, is âThis is a Christian [city / community / state]. Most of us are Christians, so what is the harm if we want to bring our religion into government?â This statement, while understandable, completely misses the guarantees of our constitution. While it is true that a democracy is run by majority rule, our constitutional government also protects the rights of minorities. If a city of 99% Christians wants to hold a prayer at their city council meeting, the majority may be in agreement, but that prayer isolates the 1% who are not Christians, and sends the message that this government is not their government. Our governments are exactly that, our governments. They are not the governments of the majority, they are shared institutions.
It is for this reason that TTW has dedicated itself to report on the state of our State and Local governments in Texas, seeking equal access to and equal treatment by the government of all Texans.