Virginia GOP Gov. Candidate Glenn Youngkin, Public Officials Join Family Research Council’s Far-Right Festival

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Photo by Greg Skidmore/Flickr)

Virginia Republican candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin will speak Friday at a gathering of right-wing and far-right political activists hosted by the Family Research Council, which has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Youngkin, who spoke last Saturday at a gala hosted by the anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice Family Foundation, has been endorsed by FRC’s political affiliate.

FRC’s “Pray Vote Stand” summit—a rebranding of its annual Values Voter Summit—begins tonight and runs through Friday. Religious-right activists from across the country will gather at Cornerstone Chapel, a Northern Virginia church whose pastor promotes Christian nationalist themes and denounces the Democratic Party as evil and demonic. FRC President Tony Perkins and Alliance Defending Freedom President Mike Farris spoke at Cornerstone Chapel in February, where Farris bragged that “hundreds” of graduates of the group’s “Christian worldview training” have clerked for federal judges, and that two are now serving as federal appeals court judges while another three serve on state supreme courts. Farris is also scheduled to speak at “Pray Vote Stand.”

This week’s conference is meant to fire up and mobilize religious-right activists for more intense political engagement. Among the topics on this year’s schedule: voter suppression in the name of “election reform,” resisting “vaccine tyranny,” preparing for anti-abortion activism in a post-Roe v. Wade America, and fighting “wokeism,” “gender ideology” and “indoctrination” in public schools.

Speakers include E. W. Jackson, a right-wing pastor who calls the Democratic Party “the party of Satan,” says that “Black Lives Matter is worse than COVID,” and claims liberals would gladly kill Black conservatives if they had the courage.

Another speaker, FRC Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin, signed an open letter in May charging that under the current Congress and administration, the United States has “taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government.” It claimed that the FBI and Supreme Court ignored “irregularities” in the 2020 presidential election.

Among the current and former Republican officeholders scheduled to speak:

  • James Lankford, R-Okla.
  • Robert Marshall, R-Kan.
  • Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
  • Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
  • Bob Good, R-Va.
  • Michael Waltz, R-Fla.
  • Former Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas
  • Former Rep Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, now a dean at Pat Robertson’s Regent University
  • Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
  • Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Religious-right leaders often portray criticism of the movement’s goals and tactics as anti-Christian persecution, but FRC is willing to demean the faith of Christians who do not adopt its political agenda, including Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Christian pastor. FRC’s advocacy for “religious liberty”—often invoked as a justification for anti-LGBTQ discrimination—has been notably selective. Boykin, for example, has argued that Muslims are not protected by the First Amendment. FRC President Tony Perkins himself claimed that a ban on Muslim immigrants would not be a religious test because “only 16 percent of Islam is religion.” Perkins once argued that Christians who support marriage equality for same-sex couples don’t have the same religious liberty protections as Christians like him because “true religious freedom” applies only to those with “orthodox religious viewpoints.” He has dismissed as “supposed Christians” those who support reproductive choice.

Earlier this year, FRC launched its “Center for Biblical Worldview,” which it said will equip conservative Christians to “see the spiritual war behind the political war.” The Center’s first senior fellows are George Barna, an evangelical pollster who described the 2016 president election as “a Christians vs. non-Christians election” and called Trump’s victory a “miracle,” and Owen Strachan, a theologian known for opposing feminism and promoting traditional gender roles and who FRC says will help the Center for Biblical Worldview “expose the woke secular ideologies” that it claims have “increasingly infiltrated” Christian universities and churches.