According to Instagram, Landon Schott, the lead pastor at Mercy Culture Church, has no problem outing himself as a conspiracy nut in public or jeopardizing the tax-exempt status of his evangelical Northside place of worship. The IRS has long prohibited churches from supporting political candidates for obvious reasons. That still hasn’t stopped millions of “houses of God” from preaching politics, including, apparently, Mercy.
“Elections matter!” Schott recently wrote on his Instagram page. “Our tyrannical leaders have stolen our freedom and indoctrinated our children in schools.”
Tagged in his message is an Instagram handle that leads to vapid conspiracy peddlers Steve Penate, who was trounced in the recent Fort Worth mayor’s race, and Erik Richerson, who took in an abysmal 7.8% of District 9 city councilmember votes last year. One IGTV video shows Penate and Richerson excitedly preparing to protest against Critical Race Theory (CRT) at a Fort Worth school board meeting earlier this year.
“Look for @nagefortexas on March 1,” Schott wrote on another post, referring to a local Republican candidate for state rep.
Based on his numerous comments, Schott apparently loves our news magazine’s Instagram page (@FortWorthWeekly), and we love hearing the voice of right-wing nuts like him who think their work has anything to do with the life and teachings of Jesus.
Last week, our editorial board took aim at DA Sharen Wilson’s public endorsement of Tarrant County judge candidate Tim O’Hare (“50 Shades of Public Corruption,” Feb 9). Her decision should be seen for what it is — a conceit that our local criminal justice system puts the interests of white supremacy over those of Tarrant County residents.
“Another biased, disappointing, and misleading article,” Schott commented.
The expressed aims of O’Hare’s supporters and the Political Action Committee (PAC) that he allegedly founded, Southlake Families, convey a perverse desire to turn back the clock on racial and LGBTQ+ equity. Schott’s reaction caught our attention because a new PAC, Tarrant County Conservatives, was recently formed for the sole purpose of targeting county commissioner candidate Betsy Price and because the PAC’s treasurer is an admitted member of Mercy Culture Church.
“I lead worship at Mercy Culture Church,” Richerson wrote on his Facebook page last year.
According to the PAC’s first and only campaign finance report, Richerson is the treasurer for Tarrant County Conservatives. The campaign disclosure is devoid of any information beyond listing Richerson and disclosing the PAC’s opposition to former Fort Worth mayor Price. No contributions or loans are disclosed.
The PAC somehow had the resources to fund a newish website that attacks Price and portrays the Republican as a liberal. We are not sharing the website’s address because doing so would support a concerted effort by powerful Republicans to perpetuate this country’s sordid history of racism and discrimination. Content from the website suggests coordination between O’Hare and Tarrant County Conservatives. The misleading and often baseless language used on the website mirrors press releases that we frequently receive from O’Hare’s campaign.
The Tarrant County Conservatives-funded website blasts Price for supporting LBGTQ+ youths. One website image shows Price supporting FWISD’s superintendent several years ago as the school leader pushed back on Republican state leaders’ efforts to force children to use bathrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates. Price’s political opponents appear to be pandering to transphobic bigots. The website’s information is misleading at best and outright fabricated at worst.
For her part, Price has shown that she is also willing to target minorities when it is politically expedient. Last month, she falsely stated that she “stood against Black Lives Matter.” She was never an ally of the effort, but nothing about her documented actions as mayor at the time showed her to be actively standing against the movement that seeks to end racial injustice and police violence toward unarmed Black men, women, and children (“ Primary Reasons to Worry,” Jan 26).
Though a huge political and moral misstep, Price’s campaign has largely refrained from appealing to Tarrant County’s baser instincts while O’Hare has not hidden his fundamentalist worldview that works against egalitarian notions of democracy.
Speaking at the home of a former Republican candidate on Friday, O’Hare, according to multiple sources, told the gathering that he does not manage the new PAC but does approve content for the anti-Price website. Organizationally, O’Hare may have intentionally distanced himself from this PAC, but the website bears all the hallmarks of a county judge candidate who remains hellbent on gaining Tarrant County’s top elected position by any means possible to spread misinformation and evil like the kind Jesus battled. l
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. Columns will be gently edited for factuality and clarity.