Sunday, January 02, 2011

Deep in the heart of Texas...

It's one thing to go after a a politician for where they are on the political spectrum but to go after their religion? That's a major no in my book. This is one of the reasons why I have a major problem with the tea party movement. Some of their rhetoric alone is bordering on religious discrimination.
Deeply conservative forces in the Lone Star State firmly repudiated the effort by evangelical Christians to unseat the powerful Jewish speaker of the Texas House of Representatives because he wasn’t a “true Christian conservative.”

Speaker Joe Straus still faces opposition from his right flank because of his relatively moderate views, but his opponents have made clear that Straus’ Judaism is not a factor in the Jan. 11 race to be speaker.

“There is absolutely no place for religious bigotry in the race for Texas speaker, and I categorically condemn such action,” Rep. Ken Paxton, one of Straus' two challengers in the race, said in a statement to the Houston-area Jewish Herald Voice. “Furthermore, it is just as shameful for anyone to imply that I would ever condone this type of behavior.”[...]

The controversy in Texas was important because Jews nationally had been watching it as a test case to see whether the Tea Party’s deeply conservative base was receptive to anti-Jewish ferment. The considerable Christian rhetoric in the Tea Party movement has stoked some concern among Jews, particularly as candidates from the movement cited Scripture in explaining their opposition to abortion, church-state separation and the teaching of evolution.

As it turned out, the strong response against statements singling out Straus for being Jewish were a relief, said Fred Zeidman, the most prominent Jewish Republican in Texas after Straus. Straus had turned to Zeidman to manage the crisis as soon as it emerged in e-mails from a small cadre of grass-roots conservatives. Straus' office did not respond to interview requests for this story.

“The big fear was, what are the elected guys going to do knowing this is their base,” Zeidman told JTA. “But they didn’t take the bait -- everybody either spoke up or stood down. Nobody followed the lead of this guy in Lumberton.”[...]

“Our country was founded on the rock of religious freedom and the Judeo-Christian values of the dignity and worth of every individual,” he told the Jewish Herald-Voice. “At its core, America believes in the freedom of every individual to worship as his or her conscience dictates, and it would be most unfortunate for anyone to suggest someone is more or less qualified for public office based on his or her faith.”
I said it before and I'll say it again. Religious bigotry has no place in the American political spectrum.

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