Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (pictured) is a Republican, but he is also Jewish, and that is why members of his own party want him out of office (via Think Progress). Several tea party activists in the groups Americans for Prosperity, the Austin Tea Party Patriots, the Texas Pastor Council, and Texas Eagle Forum have organized to oust him because he is not a Christian. Ugly emails have surfaced underscoring this point.
“Straus is going down in Jesus’ name,” said one e-mail, whose origins were unclear.
Straus “clearly lacks the moral compass to be speaker,” said another, written by Southeast Texas conservative activist Peter Morrison. A Morrison e-mail said that Straus’ rabbi sits on a Planned Parenthood board and then pointed out that Straus’ opponents in the Speaker’s race “are Christians and true conservatives.” Morrison is a contributor to the white supremacy website VDARE.
The Tea Party-backed groups are now running anti-Straus robo-calls and e-mails demanding a “true Christian speaker,” reports News 8 Austin.
The Quorum Report, an online newsletter, reported extensively late Monday on e-mails that mentioned Straus’ Judaism, his rabbi and the Christian faith of his House critics, who include Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola.
An email exchange between Rebecca Williamson and John Cook of the State Republican Executive Committee, where Williamson seems to be defending Straus, is met with Cook’s response, claiming, “We elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it.” Cook spoke to Abby Rapoport of the Texas Observer, who writes, quoting Cook:
“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 he asked me if I was a Christian. “I just need to know who I’m talking to so I can understand,” he explained. “The Bible is true to me. God exists, Christ is his son and the holy spirit is in the people who are Christian.” As a general rule, I don’t disclose my religion, but I explained I would do my best to understand his point of view.
Cook insisted he’s not a bigot:
“They’re some of my best friends,” he said of Jews, naming two friends of his. “I’m not bigoted at all; I’m not racist.”
But during the primary season, Cook said, “I try to select every time a Christian conservative to help.” In a general election, however, he’ll support the Republican even if the candidate is not a Christian—so long as the candidate shares his values. “Christian isn’t even the most important thing when it comes to leadership,” he allowed. “I want somebody in office that has moral values.”
“If that offends you, I’m sorry that offends you,” he said.