The largest religious bodies in Texas are the Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and the Tarrant Interchurch Organization. In the early 1950s, three Fort Worth churches saw the need for an organization that would bring together congregations from all denominations to serve the community. This organization, originally known as the Fort Worth Council of Churches, expanded its reach during the 1980s and became the Tarrant Area Community of Churches. This year, as part of its 60th anniversary, the organization changed its name to Tarrant Churches Together and launched a new logo and website.
Tarrant Churches Together partnered with Thrive PR to create and launch its rebranding campaign. The non-profit organization addresses issues such as educational inequality, poverty, and homelessness on an ongoing basis. In the 1960s, the IRS investigated allegations that some churches had abused their tax-exempt status by distributing literature hostile to the election of John F. Kennedy. Texas is home to a large evangelical population and has a history of activism in black churches.
This makes it a focal point for debates about political activity. According to Matthew Wilson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas is in the top half of states as a percentage of population that belongs to a denomination. In Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, Brandon Burden toured the stage of KingdomLife Church six days before the second round of local elections last year. Robert Morris, who runs the Gateway megachurch in Southlake and was a member of Trump's evangelical advisory board, said “We just thought that, since they're members of God's family, you'd want to know if anyone from the family and this family of churches are running”.The IRS created the Political Activities Enforcement Initiative in 2004 to accelerate investigations into reports of ecclesiastical political activity before the presidential elections between President Bush and Kerry. The only publicly known example in which the IRS has revoked a church's tax exemption due to its political activity in nearly 70 years is still under investigation. Donations to churches are tax-deductible and because churches don't have to file financial statements with the IRS, without that rule, donors seeking to influence elections could go unnoticed.
Andrew Seidel, vice president of strategic communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State said this could be dangerous. Mercy Culture supported Tim O'Hare this year, a Republican who ran for judge in Tarrant County after he spoke out against closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. As can be seen in the graphic above, many of the larger churches have a smaller share of the population than they did in 2000. North Texas is still home to influential pastors such as Robert Jeffress who heads the First Baptist Megachurch in Dallas. As such, it is clear that many denominations are represented in churches throughout Tarrant County.