Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell moves to step four of his plan to alienate everyone who didn’t vote for him:

Gov. Bob McDonnell praised State Police Superintendent W. Stephen Flaherty today for reinstating a policy that allows State Police chaplains to invoke Jesus.

Flaherty rescinded the policy two years ago, after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prayers delivered on behalf of the government must not favor one religion over another.

McDonnell said the state should not tell chaplains how to pray, but they should be allowed to pray according to the dictates of their consciences.
Several faith-based groups, including the Family Foundation, had asked McDonnell to reinstate the policy.

When Bob McDonnell ran for governor of Virginia, he insisted — emphatically at times — that he was no culture warrior. Yes, he served in the state legislature for fourteen years as a noted right-wing culture warrior, but throughout his campaign, he stressed that his top priorities were jobs and economic growth. When the Deeds campaign hammered him for his 1989 thesis for Regent University — where he outlined a 15 point right-wing agenda for the Commonwealth — McDonnell shot back with a pledge to lay social issues on the way side, focus his administration on jobs. McDonnell sold himself as a “jobs governor,” won the election, and then promptly took to showing Virginians that he was full of shit.

In the four months since he was sworn in as governor, McDonnell has rescinded protections for gay and lesbian state employers, declared a “Christian Heritage Week” (devoted to perpetuating the myth that the Founders created a distinctly “Christian nation”), declared a “Confederate History Month” (with no mention of slavery), and has now reinstated a policy giving free license to State Police chaplains to be sectarian. And this is to say nothing of his attacks on abortion rights or his enthusiasm for felon disenfranchisement.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing Virginians can do about McDonnell’s sharp veer to the right. Since Virginia doesn’t allow governors to serve consecutive terms, McDonnell is free of the electoral pressures that most other governors would face. And assuming he isn’t terribly invested in a future statewide career, this leaves him effectively immune to political pressure. Which means, in essence, that Virginians still have three-plus years of right-wing nonsense to endure from Governor McDonnell.

Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie