One of the religious right’s most effective strategies in winning political power has been running “stealth” candidates for office. A Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report in 2006 explored this tactic, quoting a 1986 memo from religious-right leader Pat Robertson to supporters seeking control of the Republican Party in Iowa:
“Give the impression you are there to work for the party, not to push for an ideology; hide your strength; don’t flaunt your Christianity.”
“Stealth” candidates are not a thing of the past for the religious right, especially now that more voters are aware of the political extremism they represent. Look, for example, at the current race for governor of Virginia.
In the late 1980s, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master’s thesis to the evangelical school he was attending — Pat Robertson’s Regent University — in which he described working women and feminists as “detrimental” to the family. McDonnell also attacked “cohabitators,” “homosexuals” and “fornicators.” He even argued for allowing government to make the use of contraception by unmarried couples illegal.
Now as the Republican nominee for Virginia governor, McDonnell, 55, downplays his conservative beliefs. He says those views “have changed as I have gotten older.” His legislative record, however, doesn’t back up that claim.