Important Update 11:28 CDT! Nelson said no such thing. Rosenthal was hearing things!
Update 2013.09.24 12:05 CDT: Read my read of the smokescreen of fabric and fabrication Rosenthal and company are trying to blow for Mike Rounds.
Joel Rosenthal's opinion means something. And the ex-exec of the South Dakota Republican Party doesn't have a very high opinion of Rep. Stace Nelson. Among other things, Rosenthal blasts Nelson for an error on which Republicans don't get called enough: exclusivity:
Stace Nelson whom I have never met and only know through his reputation at the highlight of his speech unequivocally said,
“I am a Christian, Conservative, and a Republican. You can’t be the third unless you are the first two” [Joel Rosenthal, "Political Speeches," South Dakota Straight Talk, 2013.09.22]
Rosenthal, who is Jewish, takes proper umbrage:
Such xenophobic logic has no place in our political debate. Taken on its face, since Christ was a Jew, would he not meet the Nelson Republican Litmus Test? – And be denied to be a Republican? [Rosenthal, 2013.09.22]
—not that Jesus would have been signing up with any political party, but you can see where Joel is heading—
Further I do believe there are elements of Judeo Christian thought that are shared by Republican philosophy. I.e., the Republican Party was founded in part on wanting to eliminate Slavery. Clearly the GOP and true Christians share values. Christians (if I understand correctly) like Jews believe in clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted. Many Democrats share these values as well. The difference lie between the parties and yes factions within our political parties as to whether churches, charities, or the government should be responsible [Rosenthal, 2013.09.22].
Is Nelson's Christian requirement for Republicanism just a rookie mistake? You don't get rookie mistakes while running for U.S. Senate. But I don't think this is a rookie mistake. Nelson's statement belies the litmus test that I fear many South Dakota Republicans apply. They assume Christianity is a norm. They assume everyone in their room is Christian, and they assume that everyone who is not Christian is an enemy who should be excluded from the party if not from the United States of Blessed America. They assume that they can mingle their politics, patriotism, and piety without offending anyone on their side.
Nelson will never get Rosenthal back on his side. Rosenthal won't forget Nelson's declaration that Joel Rosenthal can't be a Republican. Rosenthal going to tell every Republican he knows not to support Nelson. And Rosenthal knows a lot of Republicans.