Christopher stone

Christopher Stone

A Manassas area Air Force veteran and former Trump Administration appointee is challenging Democratic Del. Danica Roem in November’s election.

Christopher Stone, 40, is running as a Republican for the 13th District seat in the House of Delegates. 

The district covers Manassas Park and nearby parts of Prince William County, including Gainesville and Haymarket.

Stone, who grew up in Springfield, Mo., moved to the area in 2009. He has a bachelors in history from the University of Missouri and masters degrees in theology from Baptist Bible Theological Seminary, defense and strategic studies from Missouri State University, operational art and science from the Air Command and Staff College and philosophy in military strategy from the Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.

Stone teaches in the defense and strategic studies department at Missouri State’s Washington, D.C., campus.

He worked on the staff of former Republican U.S. Sens. Jim Talent and Kit Bond and was appointed by the Trump Administration as special assistant to the deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy. Stone was active duty in the Air Force for two years before entering the reserves. He has served in the National Guard since 2008 and is a lieutenant colonel space operations officer.

Stone said he was inspired to run after “government overreach” during the coronavirus pandemic and racial unrest over the past year. He expressed concern about the integrity of elections and said any questions about the way the 2020 election was handled have been tossed aside.

“If the citizens are concerned about a topic, their elected representatives are there to help them look into these things and not make them feel stupid or that they're conspiracy people,” he said. “And if they find there’s nothing wrong, then great. At least they did their due diligence.”

Stone said his campaign will focus on making Virginia a state “again that is safe, prosperous and free.”

He said law enforcement needs to be fully equipped and “empowered,” rather than restrained by recently enacted legislation. Legislatures across the country have been advancing criminal justice reforms after the deaths of Black people at the hands of police officers. Stone said he wants to see a more balanced approach to reform “instead of allowing violent criminals to get misdemeanors instead of felonies” and removing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.

On the economy, Stone railed against energy plans that don’t focus on natural gas. He said windmills off the Virginia coast will also kill birds.

“If these people were really green, think about it. You’re going to deforest land which is less green space and you’re going to create lots of bird deaths,” he said. “If you really are about the environment and you want to have green, why not use clean natural gas.”

Stone said he wants to combat the “assault on our constitutional liberties.” He cited recent legislation allowing localities to ban firearms on government property and said restrictions on religious services during the pandemic have been overreaching.

“There are safety measures that are understandable, but what goes on inside the church is not the business of the governor,” he said.

Roem was first elected in 2017, unseating longtime incumbent Robert Marshall. She won re-election in 2019 with 55.9% of the vote.

Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at nstout@insidenova.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.

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(5) comments

Allen Muchnick

“If you really are about the environment and you want to have green, why not use clean natural gas.”

Here's one compelling reason; the continued burning of fossil fuels, including natural gas, will soon render our planet unsuitable for human habitation for CENTURIES: [ https://www.npr.org/2021/04/14/981333730/carbon-emissions-could-plummet-the-atmosphere-will-lag-behind ].

Evidently, this "expert" on space warfare is ignorant of atmospheric science.

Brad London

He's right and he's a much better candidate than Roem.

Ben Smith

'“There are safety measures that are understandable, but what goes on inside the church is not the business of the governor,” he said.'

What an incredibly stupid comment. Half a dozen people I know contracted COVID from attending church. What goes on in church is absolutely the business of the governor if he or she is trying to stop the spread of a pandemic.

Paul Benedict

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

The governor doesn't have the authority to regulate what goes on inside a church, or how they exercise their 1st Amendment right. She may make recommendations for safety or health, but she can't control it. I doubt the people you claim contracted COVID from attending church actually did get it from attending a service. They probably engaged in unsafe activity like shaking hands or being in close proximity to others. Most of the people who got the virus in the past year were wearing masks, and the places with the strictest rules continue to be the hardest affected. I laugh when I see people walking along Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge wearing a mask on a windy day. Liberals have beat the common sense out of most of their clan. No critical thinking skills are allowed.

If I lived in the 13th District I would vote for Stone over Roem. It is time to bring back science and reality to Richmond. Maybe I will donate a few bucks to his campaign later this year. Roem's donations from nutjobs and radicals outside the district really helped her get elected and re-elected. Check the records.

John Dutko

https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10450

Here is a snippet that addresses your concerns:

Legal Background: Free Exercise Clause

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars federal and state governments from “prohibiting the

free exercise” of religion. (The First Amendment applies to state governments through the Fourteenth

Amendment.) Governments may not regulate religious beliefs, for example, by compelling people to

affirm certain views or punishing the expression of specific beliefs. Governments also may not punish

religiously motivated actions if the government is motivated by a purpose to disapprove of a specific

religion or religion in general. Thus, the Supreme Court has said that a law specifically prohibiting casting

statues for worship or “bowing down before a golden calf” “would doubtless be unconstitutional.”

However, governments can regulate religious actions through laws of general applicability that do not

specifically target religious activity. In Employment Division v. Smith, the Supreme Court held that a state

could, without violating the Free Exercise Clause, deny unemployment benefits to two members of a

Native American church who had used peyote for sacramental purposes. The church members’ peyote use

violated state drug laws: criminal laws that generally prohibited the use of certain drugs and were “not

specifically directed at their religious practice.” The Supreme Court said that “the right of free exercise

does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a ‘valid and neutral law of general

applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or

proscribes).’”Accordingly, under Smith, if a law is generally applicable and neutral with respect to

religion—that is, if it does not “target” specific types of religious exercise or reflect hostility towards

religion, but prohibits specific activities regardless of whether they are religiously motivated—the

government can apply that law to religiously motivated activities without violating the First Amendment’s

Free Exercise Clause, even if the law “would interfere significantly with private persons’ ability to pursue

spiritual fulfillment according to their own religious beliefs.”

On the other hand, the Court has said that if a law does “infringe upon or restrict practices because of

their religious motivation,” it will be subject to strict scrutiny and ruled “invalid unless it is justified by a

compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest.” The Supreme Court has struck down

laws that were “gerrymandered” to prohibit only religious activities and laws that, on their face,

“expressly discriminate[d] against” individuals because they are religious. The Supreme Court has also

ruled that governments may violate the Free Exercise Clause if they apply laws in a way that

demonstrates hostility to religion. For example, in a 1953 decision, the Supreme Court held that a city

acted unconstitutionally when it applied a local law prohibiting people from “address[ing] any political or

religious meeting in any public park” to a minister who addressed a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Observing that other religious groups had been allowed to hold church services in local parks, the Court

concluded that, by treating the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ service differently, the city was unconstitutionally

“preferring some religious groups over this one.”

It is possible, however, that courts might apply different standards of review to free exercise challenges in

emergency situations. As discussed in more detail in this Sidebar, some intermediate federal courts of

appeal have held that in limited emergency circumstances, courts may apply a more lenient standard of

review to analyze the constitutionality of measures responding to the emergency. The U.S. Court of

Appeals for the Fifth Circuit outlined one such standard on April 7, 2020, in a case considering the

constitutionality of a Texas order affecting the availability of abortions. The Fifth Circuit said that in an

emergency, the government may “curtail constitutional rights so long as the measures have at least some

‘real or substantial relation’ to the public health crisis and are not ‘beyond all question, a plain, palpable

invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law.’” The court was quoting from a 1905 Supreme Court

Congressional Research Service decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, in which the Court rejected a constitutional challenge to a law requiring smallpox vaccinations. Other federal appellate courts have applied an emergency-circumstances standard that asks whether the government acted in “good faith” and “whether there is some factual basis” to conclude that the acts “were necessary to maintain order.” There is, however, relatively little judicial precedent specifically testing how free exercise challenges should be adjudicated in an emergency.

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