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.
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." (You can see both emails here.) Since the SREC governs state Republican Party affairs, this marked the first time an elected party leader had semi-openly called for a "Christian conservative" Speaker.
There is no mistaking the message being sent here. If you're not a Christian conservative, there's no place for you in the Republican leadership. They want a Christian conservative leadership...and a country to match. Anyone who doesn't live up to that, well enjoy being a second-class citizen.
That's how they roll.
Some are more equal than others.