Back in the 1850’s, religion became a large part of the national debate in all elections, state, local and national. The Know Nothings opposed immigrants in general and Roman Catholics in particular. They were called Know Nothings, because they were instructed to reply “I know nothing” when asked about their party. The party was officially known as the American party. It was a political party that often met in secret.
Today, we again see issues about religion. In one San Antonio race for the state Legislature, Jeff Judson has invoked religion. He claims to be a God- honoring, Christian conservative running against Joe Strauss, who is Jewish. He claims the state Legislature is disconnected from God, because Mr. Strauss, the Speaker of the House, killed statutes that would protect “religious liberty” and life. When asked, Mr. Judson would not explain how Mr. Strauss is not connected to God. As Cal Jillson, the SMU professor explained, candidates like Mr. Judson do not raise the religion issue directly, but they do invite voters to make the comparison. Mr. Judson wants voters to compare his religious beliefs with those of Speaker Strauss. See column by Brian Chasnoff of the San Antonio Express News.
As the Texas Gazette warned in 1859, “Should we begin to apply a religious test, how many others, besides Catholics, might we war against?” The article named a dozen or more obscure or not so obscure Protestant religious faiths. Any of these faiths could have been next in 1859. See Austin Texas Gazette, Oct. 28, 1854, p. 76. 2016 is no different. The 1859 newspaper was warning that if we attack one sect or one faith, which faith is next? Religious discrimination in any age is unattractive. In this age, in employment situations, it would also be unlawful.