How Steve Stockman Is Challenging John Cornyn Without Religion

Today’s big political news is that Rep. Steve Stockman, the Texas Republican who might someday win a contest for having the most listicles devoted to his crazytalk, is launching a primary challenge Sen. John Cornyn, a longtime conservative favorite. In Texas you must now out-Cruz Ted Cruz.

On his campaign website, Stockman lays out the reasons why “I am running against liberal John Cornyn,” which has spawned the hashtag #liberaljohncornyn, with some entertaining results.

Stockman addresses his fundraising announcement to “patriots,” proclaiming:

You are in a foxhole fighting to save our constitutional Republic…

…and the last thing you need is a Republican bayonet in your back.

But that’s what liberal John Cornyn has been doing to you every day.

And we have less than 90 days to stop him. 

Stockman is known as a Tea Party Republican, one for whom the rigid conservatism of all those RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) is not pure enough. (Even WorldNetDaily, hardly one to shirk its duty to play the religion card, identifies him as a “Tea Party Favorite.”)

But Stockman is a born-again Christian, too, something he doesn’t tout—overtly, at least—in the fundraising letter. Instead, he buries his religious views in other Tea Party bogeymen. But none of it obscures the religious right-Tea Party overlap. 

A few highlights from Stockman’s announcement, with my own observations in bold:

  • “I am leading the fight for our values.” (Need I say more?)
  • “Liberal John Cornyn betrayed Ted Cruz by abandoning Republicans during the Obamacare filibuster.” (Judas.)
  • “Liberal John Cornyn betrayed Ted Cruz, and you, by voting to fund Obamacare.” (Ibid.)
  • “But liberal John Cornyn is now doing what he always does, spending four years voting like a Democrat, then spending the two years before an election pretending to be Republican.” (Wolf in sheep’s clothing.)
  • “Well, I’m sick and tired of being bayoneted in the back by someone in my own foxhole.” (As we all know, there are no—or there shouldn’t be—atheists in foxholes.)
  • “I have a 100% lifetime pro-life rating.” (Translation: I have a biblical worldview.)
  • “I was the original sponsor of the Sanctity of Life Act and will block any federal judge who is not 100% pro-life.” (I.e., those black-robed tyrants who are legislating anti-Christian law from the bench.)
  • “I am sponsoring the Sanctity of Life Act again, H.R. 2764.  It would automatically overturn Roe v. Wade, protecting human life between conception and birth.” (Fertilized eggs are persons, with God-given constitutional rights. Unlike women.)
  • “I have a 100% lifetime pro-gun rating.” (Actually a sterling A+ from Gun Owners of America, which believes that the Second Amendment is divinely inspired and that citizens need guns to protect themselves from a tyrannical government which has overstepped its God-given authority.)
  • “I worked with Senator Rand Paul to introduce legislation blocking Obama’s gun-grabbing executive orders.” (See?) 
  • “When freedom is threatened Texans have always mounted up and ridden to the sound of the guns. I’m not asking you to take a bullet or face actual bayonets.” (Of course not; we all know it’s a spiritual war.) 

While Stockman is now selling himself as the Tea Party purist, take a look at his 1994 campaign for Congress:

Religion has been an important factor in his career. During his 1994 campaign, Stockman, a born-again Christian, created Mobilizing Morality in America conferences across his district with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and other conservative and Christian leaders. He also established “Citizen Sundays,” which promoted early voting after church.

Stockman won his first term by defeating Democrat Jack Brooks, a protégé of President Lyndon Johnson. As a freshman, he won enactment of a measure authorizing the use of the Capitol grounds for the Washington for Jesus 1996 prayer rally.

Maybe it’s more beneficial for him to play the ideological purity card rather than touting his religious purity for the Christian right. He’s a known quantity, after all. Or maybe he knows where the cash is coming from right now. Or maybe touting one’s Christian credentials has become passé, and he knows that is all implied in his liberty-loving, anti-government-tyranny talk. Which would of course make the Tea Party-religious right merger complete.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email