Speakers and attendees at a rally at Solid Rock Church in Lebanon Monday spoke about supporting conservative and Christian values in next year’s Republican primary election.
Several hundred people attended the event, featuring Jenna Ellis, a lawyer known for being part of former President Donald Trump’s legal team attempting to overturn the 2020 election; U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel; secretary of state candidate John Adams; and former state lawmaker Candice Keller, who founded a conservative advocacy group.
Ellis, who wrote a book about interpreting the U.S. Constitution through the Bible, pushed back on criticism Mandel received this week for saying, “There’s no such thing as separation of church and state.”
“We need to go back to the Judeo-Christian founding principles of our country, that recognize that eternal immutable truth that our founders recognized in the Declaration of Independence, saying that our rights come from God, our freedom, not our government,” Ellis said.
Mandel said he is running his entire campaign out of churches and if elected plans to vote with the Bible in one hand and Constitution in the other.
“We should be instilling faith in the classroom, in the workplace, and everywhere in society,” he told the crowd, proudly retelling how he was escorted by police out of a recent Lakota Local School District board meeting he attended to denounce critical race theory.
The intersection of schools and personal values have become a major part of Mandel’s campaign. Mandel Tweeted recently: “Shut down government schools and put schools in churches and synagogues.”
Asked about this in an interview with the Dayton Daily News prior to Monday’s event, Mandel said he supports measures such as the “backpack bill” that would allow parents to spend state education funding at whatever type of school they want.
“What I’m saying is give the choice to parents, allow parents to decide what school is best for their kids and have the dollars follow the child,” he said, when asked if this would extend to secular, Islamic or other non-Judeo-Christian schools.
Concerns that government measures amid the pandemic such as workplace vaccine mandates were infringing on Americans’ religious freedoms resonated with people who came to Solid Rock on Monday evening.
Don Sexton of West Carrollton said he was looking for a Conservative message, “that means anything that pertains to the Bible and what I believe, and as long as they go by those principles I’m fine with it.”
Caron Armstrong of Liberty Twp. also said she was looking for conservative values in candidates, such as having schools listening to parents and allowing religious observance in school.
Other leading GOP candidates for U.S. Senate include state Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, author and Middletown native JD Vance, and Cleveland businessmen Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons.
Democratic contenders for the seat being vacated by Republican Rob Portman are northeastern Ohio U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan and Columbus attorney Morgan Harper.