Joe Straus is speaker of the House in the Texas legislature. He is a moderate Republican from San Antonio. He is a friend of public schools. He happens to be Jewish.


Now his Tea Party opponent is challenging him because he doesn’t represent “Christian values” or even “Judaeo-Christian values.”


This is plain, old-fashioned bigotry.


Jeff Judson, a local tea party activist challenging Straus’ re-election, is sounding the same dog whistle himself, warning voters of “the disconnect between conservative, Christian voters and Joe Straus” in a rambling treatise titled “The Biblical Basis for Jeff Judson’s Candidacy for Texas House District 121 in the Republican Primary on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.”


Judson is known locally as an anti-streetcar crusader, not an actual crusader for Christ — until now.


“As Christians, we are citizens of two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Heaven and the political kingdom here on earth where we reside,” he began in the political ad. “We have obligations to both … As a Bible-believing Christian who attends Grace Northridge, an Evangelical church, I know that God created the institution of government to reward good and punish evil (Romans 13:1-4).”


Judson, the pious punisher, is casting Straus, a moderate Republican, in the role of evil.


“The Texas Senate passes God-honoring, conservative legislation which is often killed by Joe Straus, my opponent who is House Speaker,” he continued in the letter, before listing issues that Straus has tried to “stab … in the heart,” including “religious liberty” and “protecting life.”


“These are only a few examples of the disconnect between conservative, Christian voters and Joe Straus,” he continued. “If Christians do not speak out publicly about the moral and ethical issues facing a nation, who will?”


And then another Republican leader jumped into the fray, spewing his own bigotry:


On Sunday, the leader of Conservative Republicans of Texas sent an email blast announcing rallies in Houston to “take back our party.”


“Speaker Joe Straus and his RINO lieutenants, members of the Homosexual Political Movement (LGBT and Log Cabin Republicans), their corporate business donors and pro-Muslim sympathizers are organizing and spending millions of dollars to drive Christian conservatives and their values out of the Texas Republican Party,” he wrote. “I am not going to tell you that if this liberal, secular cabal has its way, then the will be the order of the day.”criminalization of Christianity will be the order of the day.”


I grew up in Texas. I am Jewish. I have strong Judaeo-Christian values. These expressions of hatred are not “Christian values.” They are the values of people who despise anyone who does not agree with them. It is a free country, and the bigots can say and believe what they want. But it would be tragic if the people of Joe Straus’s district allow these zealots to come to power and impose their views on everyone else.


I thank the Pastors for Texas Children for forwarding this disturbing article to me. They and their tireless leader, Pastor Charles Foster Johnson, remind me that there are many good people in Texas who don’t share the extremist views expressed by Joe Strauss’s political opponents.