Last month, several Tea Party activists formed a right-wing coalition to oust Rep. Joe Straus (R) as Texas House Speaker. They began circulating emails with anti-Semitic messages against Straus, who is Jewish. The groups ran robo-calls and sent out e-mails demanding a “true Christian leader,” and calling Straus’ opponent, Rep. Ken Paxton (R), “a Christian Conservative who decided not to be pushed around by the Joe Straus thugs.”Thinkprogress then links back to the reporting at the Texas Observer.
So here's Abby Rapoport from the Texas Observer:
When emails first appeared calling for dumping current Speaker Joe Straus in favor of "Christian conservative" leadership, Straus' more visible opponents initially dismissed accusations of anti-Jewish/pro-Christian bias. "I've never heard any one talk about Mr. Straus' religion," said Michael Quinn Sullivan, the head of Empower Texans and a vocal leader of the anti-Straus crowd. "There is no place in the speakership race for discussions of people's religion or lack thereof." Shortly afterwards, Straus' opponents took a new approach, condemning the emails and distancing themselves from the statements. "There is absolutely no place for religious bigotry in the race for Texas Speaker, and I categorically condemn such action," said state Rep. Ken Paxton, who's challenging Straus for the position.You can see the emails here.
It seemed like things had died down, until I obtained an email exchange Tuesday between two members of the State Republican Executive Committee—Rebecca Williamson and John Cook. After Williamson sent a fact sheet to SREC members defending Straus, Cook responded by dismissing her claims and saying that "We elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it."
Rapoport goes on, quoting the very Christian Cook:
"When I got involved in politics, I told people I wanted to put Christian conservatives in leadership positions," he told me, explaining that he only supports Christian conservative candidates in Republican primary races.She continues:
"I want to make sure that a person I'm supporting is going to have my values. It's not anything about Jews and whether I think their religion is right or Muslims and whether I think their religion is right. ... I got into politics to put Christian conservatives into office. They're the people that do the best jobs over all."
Then our conversation somehow turned to history. If someone couldn't see the connection between Christianity and government then "you don't like our founding fathers," Cook said. "They were Christians.... Why would I not what to be like our founding fathers?"See? We ARE a Christian Nation! And in order to make sure our guv'ment more closely matches the Christian intent of our Christian founding fathers we have to make sure that only good Christian men are in positions of power.
I just want to be clear, here. Not all Christian Conservatives from Texas are bigoted religious zealots and not all bigoted religious zealots are Christian Conservatives from Texas. But when they are, it's a sad sad commentary on the party that once stood for something good (not that I agreed with it, but I could at least respect it - now, not so much).