Jonathan Falwell, son of the late TV preacher Jerry Falwell, is picking up right where his father left off: He’s urging pastors in Virginia to make sure that Religious Right allies are elected to the General Assembly next month.
Virginia holds statewide elections Nov. 6. Republicans in the state are worried, noting several recent electoral successes by Democrats. All 140 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate are on the ballot.
Speaking to a gathering of pastors in Richmond Sept. 11, Falwell appealed to them to crank up their efforts to get out the vote on behalf of candidates who oppose legal abortion and gay rights. He urged the pastors to tell their congregations to back candidates who “believe the Bible is the truth.”
“We must stand up and say, ‘Right is right, wrong is wrong,’” Falwell told the pastors. “We must protect the unborn. We must protect marriage. We must protect our families. We must protect our young people.”
Falwell’s speech came before a meeting of a group called Pastors for Family Values. The organization is an offshoot of a Virginia Religious Right group called The Family Foundation, a state affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.
The Washington Post reported that Falwell and his allies see the election as critical. In recent years, moderate Republicans in Virginia have joined forces with Democrats to block legislation restricting abortion and other proposals backed by The Family Foundation.
This year, several moderate Republicans in the Senate are retiring. Religious Right activists hope to replace them with social conservatives. Democrats, meanwhile, hope to pick up enough seats to win control of the chamber.
“There is no question, this election is critical to the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Victoria Cobb, executive director of The Family Foundation. “The number of seats, the location of the seats in terms of committee chairmen, are on the line.”
Cobb also insisted, “It’s not about party. It’s where the candidates stand on values issues.” The group distributes voter guides that rank candidates on certain issues.
Falwell told The Post he will be active in national politics as well.
“I had a good teacher,” he said. “I can assure you, I am going to do what my daddy told me, and I am going to stand up and speak for the issues I care about.”
In other news about religion and politics:
• Members of the Arlington Group, a collection of Religious Right organizations that meet regularly to plot strategy, are screening Republican presidential candidates.
Gary Bauer, a longtime Religious Right activist who helps lead the group, told National Review Online, “We’ve been meeting with candidates for a year, every one of the major candidates except Giuliani. Many of us are intrigued and excited by [Fred] Thompson, but we have concerns about his advocacy of federalism in dealing with the issue of protecting the sanctity of marriage, and that is certainly an issue we want to discuss with him further.”
An anonymous member of the coalition said it’s unlikely the Arlington Group will issue an endorsement but added, “There’s been an ongoing effort by pro-family values leaders to try to come to some sort of agreement on what candidate best represents our values and, just as importantly, get the nomination and beat Hillary [Clinton].”
Bauer, meanwhile, is trying to contain the damage from the scandal surrounding U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), a social conservative who was arrested in June in a bathroom at the Minneapolis airport during an undercover police sting cracking down on lewd conduct.
Commenting on Craig’s resignation to OneNewsNow, Bauer said, “This may be the cross that Republicans have to bear because they have presented themselves as the party of values voters – and values voters tend to have, I think wisely, high standards.”