Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) faced a loud and repeated chorus of screams and boos during a town hall with constituents Tuesday night when he stood for religious freedom.
One of the questions posed to the congressman at the event, which was held at at Clover Hill Assembly of God in Midlothian, Virginia, CNN reported, wondered if Brat, “as a seminary graduate,” believes in the separation of church and state and whether it would be “acceptable” for churches to support specific political candidates.
“Now that’s a loaded question,” Brat said. “All right, so it’s in the Constitution. They [the Founding Fathers] got it pretty good. That politics should not establish any religion, right? Everyone good with that one?”
Brat’s response drew some applause from the audience.
“But, you should all, under the First Amendment, have the free expression thereof,” Brat continued. “Right? So the founders nailed this pretty good. And now, going one step deeper: Do you want a total separation of church and state?”
Audience members — the “vast majority” of which said they supported either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders for president in 2016, according to CNN — then shouted, “Yes!”
Brat challenged those who said they agreed with a “total separation of church and state.”
“I don’t think you do,” Brat said. “Some of you believe health care is a right. In the Western tradition, rights come from God.”
The audience responded to Brat’s statement with loud boos and shouting as the congressman continued to explain his position.
“The role of government is to protect those rights. The job of the government is to protect those God-given rights,” Brat said.
Brat’s office responded to the audience’s stunning reaction in a statement to the Resurgent:
I have never seen such rudeness displayed in public as what I experienced at my town hall this week.
A sizable group of people in the audience mocked the pastor’s invocation prayer, mocked the mention of church, and mocked the idea that in the Western tradition our rights come from God.
This is not the classical liberal tradition of the Democratic Party we all grew up knowing. Something new and toxic is brewing. I don’t think many of my Democratic friends are happy about this new debasement of their tradition. Even Democrats left my town hall early because they were upset and wanted nothing to do with the behavior they witnessed firsthand. It will be very interesting to see who emerges as the next spokesperson for the Democratic Party.
Following the event, Brat cited the “post-President Trump effect” as the reason for why voters booed and claimed that those who disagree with Donald Trump politically were taking out their anger on him instead of the president, CNN reported.
Brat said that the sharp division in the country today can be solved “with love.”
“That’s all that matters,” Brat said.
In 2012, members of the Democratic Party famously booed as the party voted at the Democratic National Convention to reinsert language about people’s “God-given potential” and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital back into its official platform.