When Life Meets Dogma

By: ewhite422

Apr 28 2014

Category: Uncategorized


I helped the Religious Right take over the Republican Party in the 1990s.  I was the County Chairman of the Christian Coalition in Austin, Texas, co-host of a daily radio talk show on Christian radio, and the lobbyist for the Christian Coalition in Texas.

We recruited and organized precinct chairmen.  We plotted strategy with other Christian groups to turn out the vote.  I walked around with a walkie/talkie at the state convention, reporting to our state chairman as votes were cast.  During the primaries, when Senator Phil Graham ran for president,  I was on the platform in Washington DC when he and Ralph Reed, Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, announced “The Contract with the American Family.” (It was a dangerous place to be…between Senator Graham and a camera). And I was part of the Texas Republican delegation to the national convention in San Diego when Bob Dole won the nomination.

So, I have had my share of politics.  I even had my office broken into, like Watergate, by moderate Republicans who wanted the list of our precinct chairmen.

Bob Dole did not win, but we did have many victories over the years.  I personally worked in George W. Bush’s campaign for governor of Texas, as well as Rick Perry’s campaign for lieutenant governor…as you know, he later became governor.

Our 2 main issues were “family values,” exclusively heterosexual stable marriages and a pro-life/anti-choice stance toward abortion.  We really dreamed of reversing Roe vs. Wade.  I lobbied hard for these issues.

And then life met dogma.

  • My marriage of 24 years fell apart, ending in divorce.
  • My cousin, whose very life was in jeopardy, had to end her pregnancy and asked me to accompany her for the procedure.  She cried all the way to the clinic and all the way home.
  • Another cousin announced that he was homosexual, studied for the priesthood, and is now an Episcopal priest in upstate New York.

I seem to have signed up for the intensive course of how messy life can be.

Later, I had coffee with a new friend.  Louise said, “You have such great energy!  I can’t wait for you to meet my friend, Sarah Weddington, (she is the lawyer who argued Roe vs. Wade).

I left that meeting and called Jim Rigby, pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church and someone I had debated on public television. “Just what else was I obnoxious about???, I demanded. 

He laughed and said, “You weren’t obnoxious.  You thought you were right, and now life is teaching you about love and relationship over dogma.”

God help me!





19 comments on “When Life Meets Dogma”

  1. I am a straight Evangelical Christian and am just about to publish a book. It deals with the lenses that have been created to form the discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The horror of the religious right marrying eh New Right was destructive to the GOP, the public face of the conservative faith, the LGBT community and women’s rights.

    I was part of the conservative circles too. BUT THEN, I got gay friends. Relationship, and , as you say, life, got in the way of dogma. I guess Jesus was right — it is tied up intrinsically with how we treat people. Not how we THINK or INTEND to treat them — what they think about what we are doing to them.

    We each have failed. May we guide others to clarity.

  2. It’s always interesting to be reminded that the two main points of effort for the American right-wing are anti-gay and anti-women. I’d offer that the third is super-pro-military, but the right-wing doesn’t currently have opposition on that point.

  3. Wow, what an inspiring read. It is incredible to discover others’ paths to enlightenment, and I’m super happy for you. You asked Pastor Rigby if you were obnoxious, and he’s right that it was a strong word for standing for what you thought you believed in. But I think you’re in a spectacularly unique position, coming from the background you do, to make up for any indiscretions you imagine you’ve committed, that might keep you up at night. This post was a great step in letting the community know that there’s more than one way to live a religious life in America, and you’ve discovered it first hand. Well done!

    • Thank you so much, Mark! Having been raised in West Texas in a very conservative religious environment and serving 12 years in Mexico as a missionary, I had it fairly engrained in me.

      I guess it took the suffering from life’s lessons to get my attention.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this! Life has a way of teaching us but not all people are open to the lessons. You are an inspiration and I hope your sharing will open the hearts and minds of many others.

  5. Glad to see your blog. I enjoyed when you came to speak to our Sunday school group at St. Andrew’s. You’ve got a new follower here.

  6. Thank you for a wonderful read. I agree with other commenters that you are an inspiration and I hope you open lots of hearts and minds.

  7. […] Elaine White helped the Religious Right take over the Republican Party in the 1990s, and lived to tell about it. […]

  8. […] Elaine White helped the Religious Right take over the Republican Party in the 1990s, and lived to tell about it. […]

  9. This is a great perspective! I hope you write more about this journey for bigger and bigger audiences! I love the idea of life getting in the way of dogma! I think you have a lot to say and a lot to teach, and I hope America is ready to listen… xo Cindy Chupack (www.cindychupack.com, http://www.facebook.com/CindyChupack)

    • Thanks, Cindy! Many people, particularly young people, are turning away from the “church” as it has been done in our lifetime. That is why people are leaving the church in droves. I hope to live and write about a faith that meets people where they are and shows love without judgment.

  10. God help you? Do you have any idea how much suffering people like you have inflicted on decent people?

  11. […] Elaine White helped the Religious Right take over the Republican Party in the 1990s, and lived to tell about it. […]

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