Sunday, May 08, 2005

Pearland's Scarborough making hay in judicial fight

Rick Scarborough: from Pearland pulpit to national bully pulpit

When he was running First Baptist Church in Pearland, Rick Scarborough was a player in local city and school politics, but these days he's become a major figure on the national stage, an evangelical/political wunderkind whose name is spoken in the same breath as Jerry Falwell.

Scarborough website,, received 850,000 hits last month and the country's national newspapers are eager to learn more about the guy.

Scarborough is best friends with Tom DeLay and talks frequently to conservative Catholic U.S. Sens. Brownback of Kansas and Santorum of Pennsylvania.

After garnering a reputation in Pearland for helping formulate candidate slates for City Council and the school board, Scarborough today is rallying pastors around the country to persuade Congress to change its long-standing rules to remove the filibuster as a parliamentariy tactic for opponents of President Bush's more suspect judicial nominees.

The Washington Post reports:

He settled in Pearland in 1990 and became pastor of First Baptist Church.

His first foray into politics came two years later, when he attended a local high school assembly on AIDS awareness, and was appalled at the frank talk about condoms and "various sex acts." He read the transcript from the pulpit one Sunday morning and took his complaints -- and at least 400 parishioners -- to the school board. Eventually, the high-school principal was replaced by a supporter of abstinence-based sex education.

The experience taught Scarborough the power of the pulpit in stirring action, and he became a prominent force on the local political scene. Within a few years, members of his church had been elected to the Pearland city council and school board, and were hired for top local government jobs, including city manager and police chief.

But Scarborough encountered some bumps in the road. Several of his church members who won local school board and city council seats proved inept or uninspiring as public officials. In 1996, Scarborough tried to win control of the Texas Baptist General Convention to "take the state for Jesus," but lost to a moderate candidate by a 2-to-1 margin. In 2002, he resigned as pastor and founded Vision America to mobilize fellow church leaders "to promote active citizenship."

Tom Kirkendall at Houston's Clear Thinkers notices the Post's profile of Scarborough and notes that college law school deans are fairly aghast at the recent right-wing attacks on the judiciary.
[Houston Clear Thinkers]

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