Religion becomes issue in Texas fight

Nov. 17, 2010 at 1:30 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The Republican speaker of the Texas House, a Jew, is being attacked by conservatives citing religion, their e-mails show.

Speaker Joe Straus "clearly lacks the moral compass to be speaker," said conservative activist Peter Morrison.

"Both Rep. Warren Chisum and Rep. Ken Paxton, who are Christians and true conservatives, have risen to the occasion to challenge Joe Straus for leadership," Morrison wrote in his newsletter last Thursday, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Asked if he meant to say Straus is unfit because he is Jewish, Morrison replied, "I was simply making factual statements about Rep. Chisum and Rep. Paxton."

He said his opposition to Straus is driven by issues, not religion.

Straus said religious freedom and "the Judeo-Christian values of the dignity and worth of every individual" are key American principles.

The Quorum Report, an online newsletter, reported Monday on e-mails that mentioned Straus' Judaism, his rabbi and the Christian faith of his House critics.

Kaufman County Tea Party Chairman Ray Myers said "it never crossed my mind" that Straus is Jewish, and many Tea Party members consider Straus a "Republican in name only."

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