They both underscore something really interesting in El Paso politics. The overt desire to run on religion as a platform issue.
Now El Paso is a Catholic town and so its nothing new for candidates to spend time talking to church groups and organizations. That happens pretty regularly. Candidates often attend church bazaars during the kermez season and try to get to know people and be seen.
There's nothing new about that association of religion in politics. However in this go-around its much more overtly about the intersection of policy and religion. Pastor, now Bishop, Tom Brown started that four years ago when he ran a slate of religious candidates. One of which was Manny Hinojosa and many felt that it was in response to the City's decision to expand benefits to include domestic partners which was seen as a "pro-gay" move by the religious conservatives.
Here is a sign for District 1 candidate Manny Hinojosa. If you know Manny, this sign is no surprise to you at all. He's a very devout individual. Now the sign doesn't comply with state law and his opponents can complain to the ethics commission about it for a myriad of reasons, but that is beside the point. Manny is making religion a part of the campaign. He has now opened the door for that conversation. He'll say he's glad that he did, but tactically it isn't want he wanted to do.
But hey, maybe Vote Christian for Manny means lets use more of our tax dollars for social programs. After all, we are our brother's keeper, love thy neighbor, etc...
Religion in campaigning doesn't stop with Manny Hinojosa in district 1. In district 5, challenger Rosa Cabrera (Arellano) has made religion a part of politics for quite some time. Much more overtly in fact.
A reader sent me a screen shot from Cabrera's (Arellano) Facebook account that mentions an event for Concerned Women of America. You can find more information about this organization on Wikipedia or by going to their website.
In case you're wondering if CWA is some kind of progressive women's organization pushing for equal pay, childcare in the work place, etc...it isn't.
Its a conservative Christian women's activist group that was founded by the wife of the guy who wrote the Left Behind book series. If you haven't read that book series, its about the end of days and the rapture.
According to their website, Rosa Cabrera (Arellano) is actually the Area Director for the organization.
As you can see in the image she's actually pictured in what appears to be a studio for a radio program. Also pictured are the area directors for other parts of the state of Texas.
I dug through the website in order to get a better sense of what the organization does and what their goals are. They basically make no bones about it, the organization's goals are to "bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy."
Here are some screen shots from the organization's website that indicate the organization's goals. I include this information because there are a few prominent Democrats that attended her campaign events. While most of the Democratic Party organizations don't endorse in municipal elections, it is always interesting to note the Democrats that are quick to sell out the party's values because they don't like a particular candidate.
I thought it was very interesting to see that the organization wants to incorporate Biblical teachings into public policy and I think this opens the door to fascinating questions about what policies she advocates for at the municipal level that would relate to Biblical teachings.
Cabrera (Arellano) has made transparency a central platform of her campaign, so I'm sure she is more than happy to discuss that issue in detail.
As you can see from this last screen shot, she is making a real effort at reaching the religious community. Here she is making a campaign stop to speak a congregation at a local church.