The May 16, 2005, issue of Time magazine reported that Rick Scarborough “has been the kind of dedicated activist the GOP has to thank for much of its current dominance.” For the last dozen years this former student of mine, when I taught at Houston Baptist University, has made his pulpit into a crusade to get conservative judges and politicians elected.
Vision America, an organization fundamentalist televangelist Jerry Falwell helped him get started, is in the business of recruiting thousands of pastors he calls “patriot pastors.” They are true patriots if they get the evangelical Christian vote out for the GOP (stands for Grand Old Party, not “God’s Own Party”).
When I was pastor of the University Parks Baptist Church of San Antonio I had Rick and his evangelistic team lead a youth revival. That was in the mid-1970s, when teams of young preachers traveling around from church to church was popular and sometimes even helpful to the communities.
The last time I talked with Scarborough was in 1990, when he began his pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Pearland, Texas. He was then on the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) and intent on getting all liberal missionaries off the payroll.
Since that time he has gained some national notoriety as he traveled around the country protesting the ousting of Roy Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore is the one who installed a granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the court house one dark night. It was later removed to the chagrin of ultra-conservative misguided Christians, Rick Scarborough being one of those so incensed.
Bill Berkowitz writes that Rick has been involved in the judicial “War on Faith,” and was instrumental in the three “Justice Sundays” held during regular church services.
Sad to say my former student supported the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. In all the visits I had with Rick as a student I saw leadership possibilities but was not wise enough to see the direction he would take.
I have not read his 1996 book, Enough is Enough, that was mailed free to Texas Baptist pastors. Any book with an endorsement by Paige Patterson (one of the ring leaders that eventually took the Southern Baptist Convention down the road to ruin) is not apt to be encouraging, even if it is free.
Again, according to Bill Berkowitz, of Media Transparency, Rick developed close ties to indicted U.S. Representative Tom DeLay. The congressman called Rick one of his closest friends. Last year Rick was one of those who promoted the “War on Christmas” that was supposed to be taking place. Even with Fox News promoting it, nothing came of that campaign. But much continues to come from the religious right to “bring America back to God.”
America will not come back to God through any political schemes. As long as the religious right refuses to see this Iraq war as a blight on humanity and a disgrace to our nation, they are not only spinning their wheels in the mud, but bringing dishonor to the Lord they claim to serve.
Britt Towery, a retired Baptist missionary, writes for the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.