I think many journalists would assume — if they thought about religion angles in the Virginia race — that the members of the victorious GOP team probably came from White megachurches. But that’s not what veteran editor Tony Carnes found when he looked for the ties that bind, in this case. Here is his overture:
Most of the media attention in the Virginia elections has been on Trump and his influence. The Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe tried unsuccessfully to tag his opponent Glenn Youngkin as a Trumper.
However, under the surface of politics, there was a deeper spiritual culture and social network that connected the top three candidates in Virginia. This characteristic made the GOP effort in Virginia more winsome (indeed, that is the first name of Winsome Sears, the next Lieutenant Governor.)
When one looks at the facts, wrote Carnes, it’s possible to see “why Youngkin appears to have done a lot better among Latinos, African Americans, and women.” The question is whether any of these religion and culture connects will be seen in future contests across the nation.
Here is the information that I found so fascinating and, Carnes is suggesting, these facts are quite different from those connected to Trump the man, a former liberal Mainline Protestant who grew up to become an intensely secular candidate, in terms of his own style and lack of commitment to a worshipping community.
Youngkin goes to an evangelical Episcopal church Holy Trinity Church and provides a retreat center for FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities & Schools), an evangelical outreach to prep school students. In UK Youngkin served on the executive committee of Holy Trinity Brompton (the home church of the Alpha course).
The “Alpha course” — a program promoting personal evangelism — is a global phenomenon among traditional Anglicans worldwide, in Africa and Asia as well as England and America. It’s hard-core, face-to-face Christian basics.
The GOP Lt Governor-elect Winsome Sears is an African American who headed a homeless ministry for the Salvation Army (as well as being vice president of the Board of Education for Virginia, an elected official, and a Marine).
Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares is a Latino Christian, a member of Galilee Episcopal Church, an evangelical leaning Episcopal church.
Carnes asked a logical question: While the press focused on Trump, Critical Race Theory, Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s foot-in-mouth moments and other obvious topics:
… Underneath, I wonder. did the deep connections to the people in the pews and the balance and gentleness of the Spirit play a role?
Or as Youngkin put it with a bit of hyperbole and spiritualized metaphor in his speech last night: “A campaign that came from nowhere. But we were joined by neighbors and friends of all races, of all religions, of all ages, of all political ideologies, and it turned into a movement. This stopped being a campaign long ago. This is the spirit of Virginia coming together like never before.”
That’s a pretty big jump, methinks, but I think the facts points to connections in this trio, in terms of style and faith commitments.
Here’s one other strange bit of news from last night, care of USA Today. Sometimes, it’s hard to see stories that should be right in front of your editor’s eyes.