The Virginia school board that voted recently to restore the names of Confederate leaders to two schools was elected with the help of conservative Christian groups that promote parental rights and oppose Critical Race Theory.

Ever since the Shenandoah County School Board voted four years ago to remove Confederate names from two schools, conservatives have condemned the vote as “wokeness” and worked to elect like-minded board members. In 2022, a motion to restore the names tied 3-3. More conservatives were elected last year, paving the way for last week’s 5-1 vote.

The Family Foundation is a Virginia nonprofit affiliated with the Family Policy Alliance, the public policy partner of Focus on the Family that’s based on Focus’ campus in Colorado Springs and works with conservative groups in 40 states. The Family Foundation worked to elect new board members who embraced Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s emphasis on parental rights.

“We are uniquely positioned at the center of a national, state, and local coalition, which includes being associated with Focus on the Family,” says the Foundation’s website. “We believe there is no square inch in all the universe over which God has not claimed ‘Mine,’ and that includes the arenas of civil government and public policy where we spend much of our time.”

The two schools in question previously were named Ashby-Lee Elementary and Stonewall Jackson High. They were renamed as Honey Run Elementary and Mountain View High.

Ashby-Lee is named for both Gen. Robert E. Lee, a Virginia native who commanded Confederate forces, and Turner Ashby, a Confederate officer killed in battle in 1862 near Harrisonburg, Va.

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was a Confederate general from Virginia. His name commonly appeared on public schools in the South in the period of segregation.

After the vote to restore the name Stonewall Jackson High School, Tom Streett, a Christian elected to the board last year, praised Jackson: “When you read about this man — who he was, what he stood for, his character, his loyalty, his leadership, how Godly a man he was — those standards that he had were much higher than any leadership of the school system in 2020,” Streett told The New York Times.

In the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, many public buildings across the nation originally named for Confederate war heroes were renamed. This is the first known instance of such changes being reversed. Shenandoah County is 84% white. Geographically, the county is located 100 miles west of Washington, D.C., and 75 miles north of Charlottesville, Va.

The Shenandoah County School Board previously approved three “pro-family” measures based on Youngkin’s model policies and favored by the Foundation and other conservative Christian activists:

BNG reached out to the Family Foundation and the Family Policy Alliance to see if they approved or disapproved of the restoration of Confederate names on schools. Neither group responded.

In the past, the Family Foundation has praised Youngkin’s parental rights agenda (“There’s a New Sheriff in Town”) and expressed a desire to return to “the conservative principles and values that have defined the Commonwealth since its inception in 1788.”

“The fundamental right of parents to raise their children in the manner of their choosing must always be respected and protected,” said the Foundation in one article.

The Family Foundation worked with other groups, including the local group, Coalition for Better Schools, and the national group, 1776 Project PAC, which since 2021 has helped elect many conservative school board members who have worked to oppose Critical Race Theory in education.

Focus on the Family distributes a 5-part video series claiming Critical Race Theory promotes “lies perpetuated by spiritual darkness” and “wokeness.”

Focus on the Family Headquarters in Colorado Springs

This article originally appeared in Baptist News Global.