Evangelicals Gather In Texas For Get Out The Vote Effort, With Eternity In Mind

Today, Religious Right leaders including Rick Scarborough, David Barton, Jim Garlow and Glenn Beck are meeting with Religious Right and Tea Party activists in Dallas at a summit “bringing together leaders of conservative organizations from around the country to brainstorm and strategize on how to get out the vote for the 2014 midterm elections.”

The summit is being jointly organized by Rick Scarborough’s Tea Party Unity and United In Purpose, a voter-mobilization group funded largely by Silicon Valley venture capitalists that partnered with several dozen Religious Right and Tea Party groups in the lead-up to the 2012 elections with the goal of getting five million new evangelical Christian voters to the polls .

United In Purpose, which received national news coverage for its data-driven efforts in 2011 and 2012, has what you might call a long-term goal: it is closely tied to advocates of “Seven Mountains Dominionism,” who aim to have conservative Christians take control of every aspect of government, business and the culture in order to pave the way for the return of Christ.

United in Purpose is led by Bill Dallas, a former broadcast executive who is also on thesteering committee of Tea Party Unity. The board of its political armconsists of Barton, a pseudo-historian and “Seven Mountains” advocate, and former congressman Bob McEwan. Its education arm’s board consists of Ken Eldred – a major funder of the Seven Mountains movement -- and pollster George Barna.

United in Purpose was involved with Rick Perry’s 2011 “The Response” prayer rally, the event that meant to launch the Texas governor’s presidential campaign but ended up just highlighting his extremism because of its ties with Seven Mountains theology.

After the Response rally, the American Family Association sent an email to everyone who had registered for The Response urging them to join United In Purpose’s new project: a voter mobilization effort called “Champion The Vote.”

“The Response was just the beginning of a nationwide initiative to return America to the principles on which she was founded, with God at the center of our nation,” wrote AFA president Tim Wildmon. The goal of the new project, he announced, was to “mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.”

The project’s website says its mission is “to get unregistered Christians registered to vote, educated in the Biblical worldview, and voting accordingly on Election Day.” As part of this “worldview” education, the group distributes a guide called “Developing a Biblical Worldview,” which explains that “there are basically two worldviews: Biblical and atheistic.” The guide includes a helpful “worldview comparison chart” contrasting the two mindsets. For instance, the guide reports, the biblical worldview on marriage is “one man united with one woman” while the atheistic worldview is “lives by no real moral code – do whatever feels good, no accountability, self serving, me focused.”

As well as its get out the vote efforts, the group organized a series of conferences in the lead-up to the 2012 election, including one organized by Christian Nation and Dominionist advocate David Lane, who famously predicted that God would arrange car bombings in cities across the country in reaction to an openly gay poet’s reading at the inauguration. The group produced DVDs of Lane’s event to distribute to voter mobilization house parties.

United In Purpose has also provided steady funding to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the group run by evangelical immigration reform proponent Sam Rodriguez. In 2012, UIP granted $30,000 to Rodriguez’s group. In 2011, it provided Rodriguez’s group with $300,000, nearly one-third of its entire budget. Rodriguez’s support for immigration reform has caused him to be painted as something of a moderate in the media, but he is in fact a conservative culture warrior and a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement closely tied to Seven Mountains dominionism. Until 2011, Rodriguez was a vice president of the dominionist Oak Initiative.

The speakers at this week’s summit in Dallas include prominent advocates of Seven Mountains theology, including Garlow and Barton. Beck has also featured Seven Mountains dominionists on his program.

During the 2012 presidential primary, Scarborough urged GOP voters to reject Mitt Romney because of his Mormonism, saying, “Because of the state of the spiritual life of our country right now, I just think that’s a place I don’t want to go.” (Although in the same interview, he went out of his way to praise Beck, also a Mormon, as “most prominent spokesperson for our values in the radio field.”) Garlow also fought against Romney’s nomination, saying he was not “visceral on the issues that are cardinal to me.”

We can imagine that the leaders gathered in Dallas today are disappointed in how their efforts turned out in 2012 and are looking for a change in strategy for launching candidates with their own “biblical worldview” into office.