So the conservative Republican (is there any other kind in Texas?) who is the current Speaker of the Texas House happens to be Jewish. And he’s being challenged by people who think the job ought to be held by a Christian conservative. Don’t worry, they’re not bigoted: after all, they love Jesus, and Jesus was Jewish. (No, really: I am not making this up.)
In my view, anyone who votes to put a member of today’s Palinized, tea-partied, Club-for-Growth-ruled, Chamber-of-Commerce-owned Republican party in the U.S. Senate or House is a brick shy of a load in either the brains department or the morals department. But anyone who isn’t a straight, white, theologically conservative Christian and still votes Republican has to be deficient in self-respect as well.
Groucho Marx famously remarked that he wouldn’t want to join any club that would have him as a member. If he’d found a club that wouldn’t have him as a member and paid his dues anyway, that would have prepared him for being a gay or black or brown or Jewish or Muslim or atheist – or even maintstream Protestant – Republican voter. Bigotry is in the party’s bones.
Footnote A generation ago, I would have included Catholics on the list of sucker-Republicans, but that’s no longer the case. The Republicans of 1960 were as happy to traffic in anti-Catholicism as today’s Republicans are to traffic in racism, but they’ve mostly put that particular brand of bigotry behind them. (Of course, the Golden Rule might still counsel against joining the Party of Bigotry merely because your particular group has now been deemed “real Americans,” but I’d call that a deficiency in morals rather than a lack of self-respect.)
It’s among the ironies of history that His (genuine) Holiness, Pop John XXIII, made today’s right-wing Christian political coalition possible by relaxing the traditional Catholic position that Protestantism was simply heresy and all Protestants bound for Hellfire. Doing so made Catholicism less scary to Protestants (and others). That made it possible for the political leadership of fundamentalist Protestantism to largely – though not yet completely – abandon the traditional fundamentalist Protestant view that the Church of Rome is the Whore of Babylon and that Catholics aren’t really Christians, any more than Mormons or Unitarians are.
(In this case, by “traditional” I really mean traditional. Both sides of the Reformation struggle regarded their differences as basic, and their opponents as something other than true Christians. The Wars of Religion seem incomprehensible today because we see Catholicism and Protestantism as different flavors of the same religion. That wasn’t the view of Martin Luther or John Calvin, or of the Council of Trent or Ignatius Loyola.)