Farewell To Forbes: Va. Congressman Allied With The Religious Right Loses Primary

A staunch Religious Right ally will soon be leaving Congress after he suffered a primary defeat on Tuesday.

After 15 years in office, U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) was defeated 53 percent to 41 percent by a Republican challenger despite outspending his opponent almost 10-1. Forbes is partly the victim of redistricting; he switched to a new district this year after the makeup of his old one changed in favor of Democrats.

We won’t exactly be sorry to see Forbes go. While in office, he regularly did the Religious Right’s bidding.

Rep. Forbes regularly mixed faith and politics.

In 2009, Forbes backed a resolution that outlined “73 milestones of spirituality and faith in the United States.” The measure also recognized what he claimed were “the religious foundations of faith” that “form the inseparable foundation for America’s representative processes, legal systems and societal structures.”

At Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., in 2010 Forbes peddled bad history. He claimed America was intended to be an officially “Christian nation” as evidenced by instances when our government eroded the church-state wall, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1892 decision in Holy Trinity v. United States. Of course he failed to mention that the Holy Trinity decision is a legal anomaly. It has rarely been cited by other courts, and the “Christian nation” declaration made in the opinion for that case appeared in dicta, which is a legal term meaning writing that reflects a judge’s personal opinion, not a mandate of the law.

In 2011, Forbes sponsored a resolution that reaffirmed “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and encouraged its display in public spaces. 

A year later, Forbes and his allies wrote to then-Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz in protest of the removal of “God” from the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) logo.

In their letter, Forbes and his allies said, “The action taken by the RCO suggests that all references to God, regardless of their context, must be removed from the military. We ask that you reverse this perplexing decision.”

Forbes is also heavily involved with the Congressional Prayer Caucus.

It’s no wonder, then, that Forbes was endorsed by the anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC) right before his defeat.

“In his years of service in the United States House, Rep. Forbes has been an outstanding advocate for conservative values,” said FRC Executive Vice President William G. “Jerry” Boykin in a statement. “He has consistently received a 100% record on our annual Scorecard, and earned our True Blue Award.”

After his loss, Forbes gave no indication of what he plans to do next.

“Tomorrow the sun is going to come up for me and I’ll have a whole lot less burden to carry on my shoulder than I’ve had to carry for the last 16 years, so I’m excited about that,” he said.

Meanwhile, state Del. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) will face Democrat Shaun Brown, a businesswoman who has not previously held elected office, in the November election. We don’t know what the outcome of that race will be, but the winner would have to work really hard to top Forbes’ record on mixing church and state.