At a time of increased of anti LGBTQ+ rhetoric and violence, Republican Texas state Rep. Tony Tinderholt -- who has endorsed the death penalty for Texans who undergo or perform abortions -- has hired a new legislative director, self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Jake Neidert, who once tweeted that parents who take their children to drag shows should be executed in public.
The hiring comes just before a legislative session that is "expected to focus heavily on anti-trans bills," The Texas Tribune reports.
Christian nationalists are an extreme group. "There's a long history of Christian nationalism in the United States, and it has often been the type of nationalism that tries to exclude others," Dr. David W. Scott, a Methodist historical researcher and the director of mission theology at the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, explained on the UMC blog. "American Christian nationalism has tried to define the United States as a native white Protestant nation and exclude all others: Catholics, African Americans, indigenous peoples, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, etc."
Neidert describes himself as a Christian nationalist, and he posted the following on Twitter in June: "You want to force kids to see drag shows, I want to 'drag' you to the town square to be publicly executed for grooming kids. We are not the same." His Twitter account has since been suspended.
Tinderholt, one of the most right-wing members of the Texas House, is seeking to become speaker, although he is unlikely to oust Dade Phelan from the position, the Tribune reports.
Neidert has a twin sister, Kelly Neidert, who is the founder of Protect Texas, an anti-trans group that claims doctors are transitioning "small children," as posted on her Facebook page. She has collaborated with Holocaust deniers, calls herself a Christian Fascist, and has said, "Let's start rounding up people who participate in pride events." Screen shots of various statements by both siblings were captured by Living Blue in Texas.
Neidert has also denounced the arrests of Patriot Front members who intended to commit violence at a Pride event in Idaho and has made light of the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, saying "George Floyd is two years sober today" on the second anniversary of the murder.
He shared another user's post on his Facebook page that reads, "Please understand that we're not trying to turn America into a Christian theocracy. We're going to do it," further stating that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is just the beginning.
Neidert's hiring is concerning but also typical of the Texas far right, LGBTQ+ activists and allies told the Tribune. "It is a frustrating thing to both be appalled and not surprised," said state Rep. Erin Zweiner, a Democrat and member of the House LGBTQ Caucus. "And while it's sure alarming to know that there's someone working in my building who has called for my execution, it feels just par for the course."