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“Nehemiah Project” Could Affect Us All
by Dr. Don Wilkey, Jr.
Pastor, FBC Onalaska

Shockwaves have rumbled out of Houston, Texas, concerning the possible loss of 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by Houston Second Baptist Church. Pastor Ed Young denies accusations that his church is involved in partisan politics but, American United leader Barry Lynn isn’t buying it. Americans United filed the complaint with the Internal Revenue Service. The Houston media has been abuzz with the stories and accusations. Lynn claims to have an arsenal of evidence. Lynn was quoted in the Houston Chronicle saying, “I have heard every excuse except aliens dropping it from a flying saucer to explain what’s going on at this church. I cannot believe the number of excuses, explanation, backpedaling.”

The focus of the investigation is Second church’s “Nehemiah Project.” This program teaches people how to take over a political precinct. Christian Coalition newsletters claim the information was handed out in Sunday School and in the worship services at Young’s church. This is a sensitive subject in the Houston area since theocracy-advocate, Dr. Steven Hotze, took over the Harris County Republican Party. Hotze’s film, showing how to take over a political precinct by Christian activists, was shown in Houston churches before the 1992 elections. Hotze’s successful election to be the head of the Harris County Republican Party proved to be a divisive factor in the Houston area that led to a lawsuit. It is noteworthy that Richard Land bragged about the Houston churches’s political activity in the July-August 1994 issue of Light. It also is interesting that fundamentalist newspaper editor, Walter Carpenter, is a member of Ed Young’s church and claims to have Young’s backing. Carpenter wrote the rebuttal to an article in the Houston Post about the Southern Baptist Convention and the Republican Party. Defending partisan activity by Southern Baptist leaders, Carpenter said, “The degrees of political endorsement for Bush, (or more accurately, against Clinton) by these leaders has never been greater. And it is likely to increase.”

Young has allowed his name to be used in promoting Christian Coalition voter guides. At the 1994 Coalition meeting which I attended, a Southern Baptist attorney taught members how to have preferred candidates in your church to give their testimonies. Opposing candidates were not to be extended the same invitation.

Harris County tax appraisals must be looking with interest at Second’s multi-million dollar facility. Is it possible that if Richard Land’s influence continues to be spread across the convention, Southern Baptist agencies could face a similar assault by the IRS?

April 1996