Virginia Republican candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin appeared at the Family Research Council’s “Pray Vote Stand” conference last Friday, joining speakers who denounced LGBTQ people as satanic and promoted Christian nationalism. Youngkin used his speech to align himself with the right-wing movement mobilizing angry crowds of activists and parents to target school board members over claims that “critical race theory” is being taught in Virginia schools.
Youngkin claimed that Gov. Terry McAuliffe “doesn’t think that parents should be telling schools what should be taught in schools,” calling it “shocking.” But in the same speech, Youngkin made it clear that as governor he would have some dictates about what schools teach, pledging that so-called critical race theory—basically acknowledging the existence and impact of systemic racism—would not be taught in Virginia schools if he were elected.
Youngkin also pre-empted future public health measures that might some day be required, promising without qualification that “Virginia schools will not be closed ever again.”
There is “such a clear distinction between the choices of Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin,” the GOP nominee declared. It is true that McAuliffe did not choose to attend a conference organized by FRC, which has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Youngkin chose to do so, just as he choose to appear a week earlier at a gala held by the anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice Family Foundation.
As governor from 2104 to 2018, McAuliffe worked hard to protect and expand voting rights. In contrast, Youngkin has chosen to promote the need for new voting restrictions in the name of “election integrity” and to campaign with hard-right state Sen. Amanda Chase, who urged former President Donald Trump to declare martial law to stay in office and defended the “Stop the Steal” insurrectionists.
“Pray Vote Stand” was held at Cornerstone Chapel church in Leesburg, Virginia, where Pastor Gary Hamrick portrays politics as “spiritual war” and has denounced the Democratic Party as evil and demonic. Conference organizers urged people to take advantage of voter registration materials and absentee ballot applications available in the church.
“Lock arms with me,” Youngkin urged attendees.