Brockhouse Applauded at Cornerstone Church; Chick-fil-A Among Talking Points

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(left) Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) speak with Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

(left) Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) speak with Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio.

Mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse received a standing ovation Sunday night at a church service that gathered about a dozen faith leaders and pastors throughout the city, and called on churchgoers to exercise their right to vote ahead of the June 8 runoff election.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg was invited to the service but had a scheduling conflict, a spokesman said. Nirenberg received about 3,000 more votes than Brockhouse on May 4 with both establishing substantial margins between themselves and their seven other opponents. But neither gained enough of the vote – more than 50 percent – to win the race outright.

The church leaders spoke in front of an audience of more than 100 at the Cornerstone Church on Stone Oak Parkway. They prayed for unity in the city and for a “revival” to come to San Antonio.

Cornerstone founder and Senior Pastor John Hagee said he has seen decades of disharmony and low voter turnout among San Antonio’s electorate since arriving in the city in 1962.

“We as a city, as a spiritual body, have been fragmented for most of those years,” he said. “This has been, if you will, a spiritual pep rally, but it amounts to nothing unless you go vote.”

When asked later about the ovation he received, Brockhouse deflected, calling it a courtesy that other candidates would have received.

“When you stand up and appear, the faith community is always open to everybody,” he said.

But Brockhouse, who practices Catholicism, was clearly on his home turf. The District 6 councilman carried the largely conservative North Side, winning a significant number of precincts in suburban San Antonio. Brockhouse also voted against a controversial Council decision in March to exclude Chick-fil-A from a new vendor agreement at the San Antonio International Airport.

The vote, a 6-4 decision, has become a lightning rod in this round of City elections – drawing national media attention and prompting proposed legislation in the Texas Legislature. The discussion, which was sparked by Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), included a rebuke of the company’s financial support for anti-LGBTQIA groups. However, members of the faith community see Chick-fil-A’s ouster as an attack on religious liberties.

Mike Sharrow, president and CEO of the C12 Group, a Christian-based business leaders organization, told the congregation on Sunday that City Council’s decision discriminated against businesses that hold deep religious convictions. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays in observance of the Christian Sabbath.

“I think the City Council has done anti-faith things, and the Chick-fil-A decision is at the top of that list,” Brockhouse said. “The faith community feels under attack from City Council. That response you see is the response I get in almost any church.”

Nirenberg has stated that his vote rejecting Chick-fil-A’s contract at the airport was not because the organization or its founder holds certain religious beliefs, but because he believes airport food vendors should be open every day. He also favored giving a contract to a local company.

Although Brockhouse appears to have the support of many religious conservatives, allegations of domestic violence have dogged his mayoral bid. The claims against Brockhouse stem from incidents in 2006 and 2009, involving his ex-wife Christine Rivera and current wife Annalisa. Brockhouse and Annalisa have denied the allegations. But several groups have called for more attention to the issue, including a group called Mētú – Women of Diversity Defeating Violence, which is holding a press conference Monday to “shine a light on this issue and begin a loud and timely conversation about domestic abuse,” according to a press release.

At one point during the service, candidates for elected office who attended the service were acknowledged, including District 6 candidate Melissa Cabello Havrda, who faces Andy Greene in the June 8 runoff, and defeated District 2 candidate Denise Gutierrez-Homer, who did not make the runoff in her race.

Havrda said she block-walked during the day and then attended the service, which she saw as an opportunity to meet with area pastors and voters.

“They were sermonizing to the congregation that it is our responsibility and our duty to vote,” she said. “It was very just generally get-out-and-vote-your-conscience kind of thing.”

A spokesman said Nirenberg, who was spotted block-walking in District 2 during the day, was at a ceremony honoring Hanna Ross, the widow of former City Councilman Bob Ross, when the service began.

Hagee estimated his church constituted about 10,000 votes, and his congregants vote in high numbers, he said. Still, Hagee and other faith leaders on Sunday warned the crowd not to let apathy set in.

“This is a special election, and nothing is going to change until you make it change at the ballot box,” Hagee said.

Kyle Ringo contributed to this story.

32 thoughts on “Brockhouse Applauded at Cornerstone Church; Chick-fil-A Among Talking Points

  1. How easily they ignore domestic violence against women and their children,
    deadbeat dads and real Christian values to jump to defend a fast food chain.

  2. “But several groups have called for more attention to the issue, including a group called Mētú – Women of Diversity Defeating Violence”

    Is this a brand-new organization? I have never heard of them.

  3. Isn’t “Pastor ” Hagee” the attention-headlines grabber? Did HE decide against allowing the Family – were they Muslims – to attend his Christian School after showcasing “his campus”?

    • Can there be a more blatant example of a non-profit “religious” organization getting into politics? Tax them now, they should’ve lost their tax exemption a long time ago!

  4. I thought Havrda supported us? As a member of the LGBTQ community District 6, I may have to rethink my vote for Melissa.

  5. I am a long retired government lawyer, who has done a little pro-bono work in assisting with set-up of 501(c) 3 charitable organizations, a status Corner Stone Church must enjoy in order for its donors to claim IRS tax deductions and the Church to be tax exempt. There may have been some recent changes to regulations that could now allow broader political participation for (c)(3) groups.
    The issue: Has Corner Stone Church so clearly crossed over the line into political activity, endorsing candidate Broadhouse, that the church compromises its 501(c) (3) standing? I am aware that on issues, there is broad IRS discretion in favor of church / religious activity. But candidate endorsement?
    I put this issue out there with respect and welcome input from those better informed than I.

    • Nirenberg was invited. You were invited. It was a prayer service for the city. Bob here, is the one who made it political.

      • No, it was a political rally, where the church express support of a political candidate. They should lose their 501c3.

  6. The frequently spouted “Vote Your Conscience” is a dog whistle to vote for a conservative or an anti-choice or a anti-LGBTQ candidate. The IRS needs to know that these churches are ENDORSING candidates, which conflicts with their tax-free status.
    I phoned Cornerstone Church at the time of the Obama-Romney election for guidance on “voting my conscience,” saying that Romney wanted to cut assistance programs and that Jesus said to help the poor so my “conscience” was leading me to vote for Obama. The woman at the church hung up on me, aka endorsing Romney.

  7. It is self-styled pseudo“Christians” like “Reverend” Hagee, VP Pence, & Trump that are causing people of sound mind & good will to flee the churches in droves. Jesus would accuse them all of being hypocrites just like the Pharisees of his time. It is high time all mega-churches & pastors thereof lose their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.

    • The religious often use “God” as a means to deflect accountability. If Hagee could remove the middle man (that is hard & scary to do for believers but doesn’t mean you do not have to believe) and directly ask his conscious, he may have a different outlook on a variety of social issues.

    • Agree! Churches need to stay in their lanes. Hagee’s
      “Church” aka Political Action Committee has long violated his tax exempt status.

  8. Nirenberg lied about his vote-he voted w council …only when there was blowback did he come up w the closed on Sunday excuse. Also-as mayor he should be well aware of the RFP process which sets the parameters for those who apply. If he wanted no companies closed on Sunday and only local companies that should have been part of the RFP—and would have eliminated CFA legally…he should have gone through the process. So much for SA being a business friendly city. So much for transparency. So much for the democratic process.

    For this and other reasons CFA is a part of this election.

    • 28 women were killed by their husband or boyfriend. 1-in-3 San Antonio women are victims or former victims of domestic violence. I pray that one day the Chick-fil-a crowd will care as much about this epidemic as they do about the fast-food contract at the airport.

      When you consider that 1/3 of all women at these churches are more likely to be impacted by domestic violence than then sandwich served to airport travelers, it begs the question: Why does the chicken sandwich debate get lots more of pastor Hagee’s attention than the other issues?

      • Because the domestic abuse issue is all about politics and not genuine concern for the problem. It’s not about the chicken sandwich and you know it…don’t deflect…they are not equivalent arguments.

        (Neglected/abused kids and spouses have not been an election matter until now.)

        It’s hard to miss the hypocrisy of the way CFA was treated for their owner’s beliefs in charity when the city gives part of $141,000 to Catholic Charities whose beliefs are similarly aligned. (CFA serves all people who enter is a great community member in times of need.)

        Never been a Hagee fan, but it would be great if people who think it’s about a sandwich would look at what really happened and why…from a governing perspective.

        • You’re right. They aren’t equivalent arguments. One the one hand, a minuscule number of San Antonians will use the airport and be denied the anointed chicken. Whereas 1/3 of local women will have one or more domestic violence incidents to remember for the rest of their lives–and some of them will be murdered. I’d say that you have to do a lot of logical gymnastics to think the the airport food contract is more important than what happens to vulnerable women and kids. Looking at both of those issues side-by-side, it boggles the mind how so much energy has been spent on the CFA issue in just a couple of months while domestic violence has received no attention from the likes of Pastor Hagee and his ilk.

          I doubt that the 28 women killed last year would agree with you that domestic violence is all about politics. I also doubt that the thousands of moms and kids that seek sanctuary at the battered women & children shelter every year give a flip about chick-fil-a at the airport. Someone should remind them that when they complain about their husbands hitting them they need to stop deflecting and focus on what’s truly important – – that people aren’t paying enough attention to what really happened to the airport’s fast food contract and why.

        • “(Neglected/abused kids and spouses have not been an election matter until now.)”

          That’s not true, and the councilmember who made the motion on Chick-fil-a spent time at the border volunteering with children and families who are dealing with extreme hardship just months ago.

          Opposing an entity receiving guaranteed revenue at our airport due to their funding conversion therapy (which is essentially child abuse and already outlawed in 14 states) and attempting to restrict the rights of folks to get married and adopt children is completely in line with those same core values. To say that this was done for political purposes is laughable.

          It was MADE political by people who either:

          a. refuse to pay attention to the actual rationale given
          b. believe that attempting to limit people’s rights to marriage and having a family is ok
          c. believe that conversion therapy is a good thing

          Love is love is love.
          We are who we are.
          Children deserve to be loved and nurtured, not told that they need to be “converted.”

          • You still don’t get it. It’s not about the sandwich—it’s about the way the city council governs and the decisions they make that go against lawful, fair processes the city has in place. They voted to deny CFA -AFTER it was vetted according the bid requirements, based on the charities the owner chose to donate his personal money to—not part of the RFP and not applied to other bidders.(Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes both Christian charities.) That is the actual rationale that was given until SA got bad press and Nirenberg came up with another excuse. ..bc CC did remove CFA based on what looks like religious views of the owner, not the way the business actually treats all people…or the revenue it generates for the city.

            It sets a bad precedent for the way the city deals with businesses.

            Don’t care who you are, what you are, what you believe…but I do care that government abides by the rules they set forth…not the whims of council.

            Domestic abuse has been brought into this race for political reasons-not genuine concern. Instead of spending time at the border maybe the councilman could take a good look at the kids in this city-a city which has a 54\55% poverty rate! I hope they will…even after the election.

  9. Pastor Hagee invites all candidates 2 attend when theres an election coming up. I attend Cornerstone as a member & he says to vote the Bible. He never has told us to vote for a particular candidate.

    • In past elections, Cornerstone’s website will quote some scripture and then “compare” Republican and Democratic platforms clearly promoting the Republian stance. That is endorsing a party which is not allowed for IRS tax-free status.

      • But, Richard McFarland, Rivard Report does not get tax-exemption status as a religious organization as Hagee’s church does. Does “separation of church and state” mean much to you? If Hagee wants to endorse candidates, either directly or by implication, then he needs to surrender his tax-exempt status and anoint his church as a PAC or something.
        Thanks for the career advice, but I’m not looking for a job at the present, which has nothing to do with any lack of courage you ascribe to me.

  10. Where are the Framers when we need them? Didn’t they add something called the Bill of Rights to the Constitution when they realized there was a need for it? Wasn’t there a First Amendment or something like that?

    • The first draft of the 1st amendment included chicken sandwiches and arms, but then the framers that it would be ridiculous and they left chicken off – – because they didn’t want to offend the bison sandwich industry.

  11. “The church leaders spoke in front of an audience of more than 100…” Doesn’t that church have capacity for more than 5,000? Sounds like a non-event.

  12. Wow! Can’t believe I see Brockhouse on his knees begging pastor Hagee to support him? He’ll do anything to get elected! Keep church out of politics!

  13. Nirenberg really is a charismatic chum but many of his decisions have bothered me but I will probably vote for him (again) because Goyo Brockhouse gives the impression of being an opportunist playing on our sympathy for the Police and Fire Depts., not to mention the domestic abuse allegations. Conversatives really messed this election up not choosing a more palatable candidate. (I’m probably wrong because I thought Ron would win by a landslide. Since more voters outside the loop vote – the Brock probably has the edge.)

  14. I agree with everything Anne said above. Our city government is broken and needs a lot of work. Niremberg’s mud-slinging campaign has turned me off entirely. He is the incumbent, he has the advantage, and he is wasting it. Just like he wasted his time in office. I don’t like Brockhouse, but I do like his populist, up-front politics. He might shake up city hall, supposedly he’s good at that.

  15. Wasn’t Mētú founded by Gina Galaviz Eisenberg? That’s notable, because she was accused of the assault of two ex-boyfriends since 2000.

  16. Brockhouse is not what he presents himself to be. I have seen him play the media and masses in protest of issues and then take the exact opposite stance when decision time arrived. Also, he has been unsuccessful in gaining consensus amongst council (could not get more than 2 votes— his and Perry— on his propositions). Finally, he wants to give the individual council person MORE power. Do you know what the qualifications are for anyone running for that position?!?!?!? Virtually NONE (mostly residency requirements and no felony convictions and must be at least 18 yrs old). I have no faith that most of our current council reps can balance their checkbook or find their way out of a turtleneck. I sure as hell have almost NO confidence in their ability to manage a $2.2 BILLION annual budget.

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