Fascinating Journey: How a Former Texas Conservative Operative Left the Religious Right
Describing the internal factionalism that pitted the Christian Coalition stalwarts against such establishment figures as then-U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and (yes) then-Governor George W. Bush, Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka called 1996 “the year the Republican Party of Texas turned hard right.” In his 2012 article, Burka writes that following the 1996 state party convention, “social conservatives had seized control of the party, and they continue to control it to this day.” No one, he added, “understood the significance of this development better than Rick Perry. He had never been much of a social conservative before the convention, but he could read the tea leaves and has been one ever since.”
Perry’s 2011 prayer rally, in a departure from the kind of religious-right gatherings seen in White’s Christian Coalition days, had a distinctly charismatic bent, with “gifts of the spirit” on display, including prophesy and divine revelations declared from the stage, and audience members speaking in tongues and falling out, evidencing the rapturous peak to which the speakers brought the crowd.