November 16, 2010
Contact: Dave Welch, Executive Director
Houston, TX - The Texas Pastor Council, an inter-racial, inter-denominational organization representing local pastor councils in Houston, Austin, Beaumont, El Paso and other pastors throughout the state, issued the following statement in response to reports that automated calls made to citizens were demanding a “true Christian speaker” of the state House of Representatives:
“We believe that there are legitimate reasons to oppose the election of Joe Straus as speaker based on his record and political actions compared to the conservative principles represented in the newly expanded Republican majority. A religious litmus test is not among them and we strongly condemn any calls being made that put this race on a solely-religious basis.
Any person can purchase and initiate such automated calling as an individual. However, it must be made clear that this campaign tactic does not represent one credible conservative organization or leader in the state who has expressed opposition to Speaker Straus or who signed the letter requesting a Republican caucus vote. It is reasonable to expect that a pro-life, pro-marriage, fiscal restraint oriented electorate who worked, voted and gave money to elect like-minded representatives deserves leadership who will reflect those principles. It is not reasonable or acceptable to frame the race or the issues in what could clearly be construed to be in an anti-Semitic position given that Straus is Jewish.
This race is about Straus’s record, his philosophy and his commitment to the core principles of his party, which can be legitimately questioned for many reasons. His 100% National Abortion Rights Action League rating, his actions to undermine marriage protection legislation, his support for gutting the authority of the State Board of Education, his placing of liberals of the minority party utterly opposed to his party’s principles in committee chairmanships and stacking of committees as political patronage are among many reasons for change and all fair game. With that said, it is disappointing when an individual acts irresponsibly as in the case of the sponsor of these calls, however it must be recognized very firmly that such acts in no way represent the Christian leaders and groups who are calling for a new speaker.
We will continue to insist that the conservative majority in the Texas House of Representatives be led by and govern faithful to conservative principles. Given the reality that all experienced political leaders understand that the most important vote cast by a legislator is the first vote – that for speaker – we trust that Republicans will get it right if they expect to retain the majority.