'11 seats': How a Christian fundamentalist company has been 'taking over' Texas school boards

'11 seats': How a Christian fundamentalist company has been 'taking over' Texas school boards

In 2022, the political divisions in the United States run so deep that some mobile/wireless companies are trumpeting their political views in order to draw customers. The San Francisco-based Credo Mobile, formerly Working Assets Wireless, specifically markets itself as a wireless provider that supports liberal and progressive causes. But the Texas-based Patriot Mobile, on the other hand, openly markets itself as “America’s only Christian conservative wireless provider” — and its conservatism isn’t libertarian right, but Christian fundamentalist/theocrat/MAGA far right.

Patriot Mobile’s brand is anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-feminist and very pro-MAGA. An article written by NBC News’ journalist Mike Hixenbaugh and published by NBC News’ website on August 25 details the company’s efforts to take over public school boards in parts of Texas.

It is the “public” part that troubles Texas resident Rachel Wall, vice president of the Texas Bipartisan Alliance — a group that has been pushing for school board candidates that don’t have an overtly partisan or Christian Right agenda. According to Wall, Patriot Mobile “bought four school boards” in Texas and is now “pulling the strings.”

READ MORE: 'American Taliban': Republican rebukes Marjorie Taylor Greene's support of Christian nationalism

Wall told NBC News, “I’m a Christian by faith, but if I wanted my son to be in a religious school, I would pay for him to go to a private school.”

Hixenbaugh notes that Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration and host of the “War Room” podcast, has been promoting Patriot Mobile and interviewed Patriot Mobile President Glenn Story at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event in Dallas on August 6. And he applauded the company and its political action committee, Patriot Mobile Action, for taking over “four school boards” and “11 seats.”

“It was a moment of celebration for an upstart company whose leaders say they are on a mission from God to restore conservative Christian values at all levels of government — especially in public schools,” Hixenbaugh reports. “To carry out that calling, the Grapevine-based company this year created a political action committee, Patriot Mobile Action, and gave it more than $600,000 to spend on nonpartisan school board races in the Fort Worth suburbs. This spring, the PAC blanketed the communities of Southlake, Keller, Grapevine and Mansfield with thousands of political mailers warning that sitting school board members were endangering students with critical race theory and other ‘woke’ ideologies. Patriot Mobile presented its candidates as patriots who would ‘keep political agendas out of the classroom.’”

Hixenbaugh continues, “Their candidates won every race, and nearly four months later, those Patriot Mobile-backed school boards have begun to deliver results. The Keller Independent School District made national headlines this month after the school board passed a new policy that led the district to abruptly pull more than 40 previously challenged library books off shelves for further review, including a graphic adaptation of Anne Frank’s ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ as well as several LGBTQ-themed novels. In the neighboring city of Southlake, Patriot Mobile donated framed posters that read ‘In God We Trust’ to the Carroll Independent School District during a special presentation before the school board. Under a new Texas law, the district is now required to display the posters prominently in each of its school buildings.”

READ MORE: Christian nationalism on full display at Texas Republican Convention

Of course, not all Christians identify with the type of far-right fundamentalist ideology that Patriot Mobile promotes. There are many non-fundamentalist Christians, Catholics and Mainline Protestants who believe that people of other faiths — from Judaism to Islam to Hinduism to Buddhism — should, according to the U.S. Constitution, be able to practice their religions as they see fit.

NBC News interviewed John Fea, a history professor at Christian Messiah University in Pennsylvania. According to Fea, the idea that Christian fundamentalists have an obligation to take over all aspects of government is known as “Seven Mountains” theology. It is also called “dominionism,” Hixenbaugh notes, and Hixenbaugh points out that Patriot Mobile has “aligned itself” with that “once-fringe strand of Christian theology.”

Fea told NBC News that Seven Mountains theology used to be “largely on the fringe,” but Donald Trump’s presidency changed that.

“It fits very well with the ‘Make America Great Again’ mantra,” according to Fea. “‘Make America Great Again’ to them means, ‘Make America Christian Again,’ restore America to its Christian roots.”

READ MORE: Religious studies professor spells out the dangers of Christian nationalism's 'unholy trinity'

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