Virginia GOP ad: “Preserve our Christian heritage! VOTE REPUBLICAN”

The Augusta County (Virginia) Republican Committee ran an ad as an insert in yesterday’s Staunton News-Leader reading “Preserve our Christian heritage! VOTE REPUBLICAN,” laying out the party’s thoughts about the First Amendment heading into next week’s legislative elections.

As Larry Roller, who is on the Republican Committee, said in an interview with the News-Leader, “God is a foundation of our nation. If you read the histories of our founding fathers, (they say) you should not run for office if you are not a Christian.”

“They have taken the Ten Commandments out of public places, along with the Pledge of Allegiance and daily prayer out of the schools. They seem to forget the very first thing they did before writing the Constitution was pray for 3 1/2 hours,” he continued.

A message from North Carolina's government, via Shutterstock

A message from God, apparently, via Shutterstock

Being from Virginia, Roller should know how ridiculous this is. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison could not have been clearer about the lack of a religious test for public office. The word “God” didn’t appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, added as part of the Red Scare to help an insecure nation remind itself that it wasn’t a bunch of godless commies.

When asked by the News-Leader if he was at all uncomfortable using the word “heritage” in a flier, given that word’s association with white supremacy groups — including in the Staunton area — he dismissed the question, saying that just because other people have misused the word doesn’t mean he can’t use it in its proper context. Which, of course, he isn’t doing.

And while it would be easy enough to write Roller off as just a set-in-his-ways old guy with some views “from a different time,” his fellow Republicans aren’t exactly distancing themselves from the ad. As Tim Martin, the Republican candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney whose name appeared above the ad, said in reaction to the insert:

That’s funny. I’m Christian, so I don’t have a problem with it…As a prosecutor I will be guided by my Christian values.  Paramount in my book, is justice, mercy, fairness and the positive values enumerated in the Bible….I’m proud to be a Christian and I’m proud to have that associated with me…If I were to have invented the ad, I might have substituted ‘values’ rather than heritage. But parsing words is a dangerous game. I don’t distance myself from it.

That reaction is almost worse than the ad itself. As a prosecutor, Martin shouldn’t be guided by the Bible; he should be guided by the law. As a prosecutor and as a Christian, he should be positively freaked out at the concept of religion being used as a criteria for public office. These are the same Republicans who are sweating out the idea that maybe it won’t be okay to be a Christian in public in a few years. Shouldn’t they be fighting like hell to preserve the concept of a theologically neutral politics?

Instead, Martin is content to thumb his nose at the concept of religious neutrality so long as the affront lines up with the beliefs he already holds. That’s the last thing you want to see out of a candidate charged with upholding a set of secular laws.

As Hemant Mehta quipped, “Of course he doesn’t have a problem with it. Christians, for all their empathy talk, are unable to put themselves in the shoes of people who aren’t Christians.”


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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28 Responses to “Virginia GOP ad: “Preserve our Christian heritage! VOTE REPUBLICAN””

  1. war2040 says:

    There has been only one Christian. They caught him and crucified him–early.

    – Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898

  2. robertbubba2 says:

    Yea and religion cause the fall of Rome .

    Your post has just proved you are a liberal puppet who’s strings are being pulled by the puppet masters liberal thought and ideas there Bob

    What about Bob

    Oh he is just a liberal puppet idiot .

  3. Bob Write says:

    It was the founding Fathers of this nation who took Religion out of Government. For the very reason we now see taking place across this country with Ultra Far Right Evangelicals being elected to public office and trying to insert Christian Religion in all phases of our government against the Constitution of the United States and the separation of church and state that disallows for religion. Religion in government is what has caused great nations to fall, one just has to look at history to find the answer to what happens when religious fanatics are in control.

  4. Moderator3 says:

    You have posted this same piece on several blogs. That is spam. That is why you lost posting privileges on this blog.

  5. Daniel Pose says:

    People should stand for nor chant the Pledge of Allegiance because it was the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior (that is one of the many amazing discoveries of the historian Dr. Rex Curry, as described in the many books on Amazon and elsewhere about Dr. Curry’s work). The early pledge began with a military salute that was then extended outward to point at the flag (thus the stiff-arm gesture came from the pledge and from the military salute). The pledge was written in 1892 for kindergartners to be forced to recite under the flag at government schools (socialist schools). The pledge was written by an American socialist who influenced other socialists worldwide, including German socialists, who used the gesture under their flag’s notorious symbol (their symbol was used to represent crossed “S” letters for their “socialist” dogma -another of Dr. Curry’s discoveries). The pledge continues to be the origin of similar bullying attitudes even though the gesture was changed to hide the pledge’s putrid past. The pledge is central to the US’s police state and its constant expansion.

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  7. Quilla says:

    I live in this commonwealth and it embarrasses me daily.

  8. Indigo says:

    And then the True Believe explained, “And that’s how God came to assemble the Internet.”

  9. Nicholas A Kocal says:

    NOT one policy that republicans support follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. They actually are completely opposite of what Jesus taught.

  10. mf_roe says:

    We have already
    compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian
    governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many,
    palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men,
    reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and
    skins — they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones. The day of Science
    dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of to-day.
    Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and
    elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But
    above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of
    value in the brain of an average man of to-day — of a master-mechanic,
    of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the
    brain of the world four hundred years ago.
    These blessings did
    not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the
    outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or
    behind altars — neither were they searched for with holy candles. They
    were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in
    answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom,
    the gifts of reason, observation and experience — and for them all, man
    is indebted to man.

    — Robert Green Ingersoll, “God In The Constitution”

  11. Indigo says:

    What an odd and hopeless gambit that ad is. The Republicans who contrive that kind of message are entirely lost to the Constitution and to the reality of the American Way of Life. They’re living in a daydream of Mayberry RFD that never was anything other than a foolish little sitcom about ignorant folks living in moral isolation.

  12. mf_roe says:

    EVERY Brick in a wall of propaganda counts.

  13. mf_roe says:

    If your familiar with the providence of that quote Fascism is exactly the object. The appeal to authority of both religion and nationalism make them natural allies. “My superstition is superior to your imperfect facts” works for both self-serving systems.

  14. BeccaM says:

    “Wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

    That ad positively reeks of fascist propaganda.

  15. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    The ad is sickening, but I don’t believe it will sway anyone.

  16. mf_roe says:

    If you really look into their famous stories of how Religion has changed their life it boils down to “Once I learned how to spin this shit I have made out like a bandit”

  17. mf_roe says:

    Isn’t that passage from his letter to the Anabaptists?

  18. JaneE says:

    How can these people call themselves Christians? Have they ever obeyed any of Jesus’ teachings? Last time I checked, Jesus expected honesty from his followers. Maybe they should read John 14 23-24.

  19. nicho says:

    Garfield, as we all know, was assassinated. You attack Christians at your own peril.

  20. The_Fixer says:

    It simply amazes me that so many self-proclaimed “Good Christians” are such prolific liars on this subject. You’d think that if they were so Christian, and truly wanted to be held up as examples to be emulated, they’d stop trying to revise history with outright lies.

    Well, maybe I shouldn’t be amazed. I’ve seen it all of my life, it’s nothing new.

  21. Baal says:

    From another Virginian, George Washington, in a letter in 1790 to the country’s first Jewish congregation, the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island:

    “Allowing rights and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that
    toleration is spoken of, as if it were by the indulgence of one class
    of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural
    rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to
    bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that
    they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good
    citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

  22. Baal says:

    The Flushing Remonstrance
    shows support for separation of church and state as early as the
    mid-17th century, stating their opposition to religious persecution of
    any sort: “The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to
    Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which
    is the glory of the outward state of Holland, so love, peace and
    liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and
    bondage.” The document was signed December 27, 1657 by a group of
    English citizens in America

  23. Baal says:

    “If you read the histories of our founding fathers, (they say) you should not run for office if you are not a Christian”.

    From his fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or
    his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions
    only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that
    act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature
    should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of
    separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of
    the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I
    shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments
    which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no
    natural right in opposition to his social duties.

  24. Doug105 says:

    ,,,,,,,,,

  25. Doug105 says:

    Ok, let’s tax church properties and if they run any businesses out of them taxes them too, the way it should be. And if they keep sticking their noses in politics, let them pay corporate taxes also.

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