The Christian Right in American Politics: Marching to the Millennium

By John C. Green; Mark J. Rozell et al. | Go to book overview

THREE

Texas: Religion and
Politics in God's Country

James W. Lamare, Jerry L. Polinard, and Robert D. Wrinkle

IT SURPRISES NO ONE FROM A LESSER STATE WHEN THEY HEAR A Texan refer to Texas as “God's country.” It does surprise them when they realize the Texan is serious. Texas has always been fertile ground for a mixture of religion and politics. Virtually every one of the apparently limitless number of textbooks on Texas government and politics identifies Texas as falling within the individualistic and traditionalistic political cultures described by Daniel Elazar (1972). A strong commitment to religion fits comfortably in this core culture and provides an environment that is very friendly to religious movements—particularly, but not exclusively, to those associated with the religious right.

In this chapter, we comment on the general social characteristics of Texas, paying close attention to the pervasiveness of traditional, Christian religious beliefs and the extent to which these orientations have given shape and form to the state's politics and its policy commitments. Political organizations extolling the social, economic, moral, and political views of the Christian Right arose easily and quickly out of this cultural milieu. They have achieved their greatest political success in taking over the state's Republican Party, a goal that was accomplished through gaining control of the party organization at its grassroots level. They have been less successful in securing electoral victories and in influencing policy outcomes, although their adventures into these areas have almost always generated publicity and controversy. The religious left has also made its presence felt in Texas. Working mostly in Texas's predominately Hispanic communities, religious left organizations have had

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