Rev. Joe Ellison Jr. was tapped as the Republican Party of Virginia's state director of African American engagement Tuesday, but, as seems to be the recent status quo in Commonwealth politics, the pick is not without its controversy.
Ellison, the director of Pastoral Relations and Church Ministries for the Virginia Pastors Coalition, is a social conservative that has called for the shuttering of Planned Parenthood and publicly supported an idea that the devastating 2009 earthquake in Haiti was linked to a pact Hatians made with the devil 200 years ago.
"Today, this African American pastor is declaring war against Planned Parenthood," he said in 2010, according to CBN News. "We're asking pastors to pray them out and we're asking Planned Parenthood to leave our children alone."
Also in 2010, Ellison said he agreed with Rev. Pat Robertson's controversial claim that the 2009 earthquake in Haiti was caused by a "pact with the Devil" that was sealed in a voodoo ceremony on the eve of Haiti's successful slave rebellion.
"I know his comments angered a lot of the so-called, in my opinion, liberals," said Ellison, who said he was speaking as an emissary of the black community, according to the Washington Post. "From a spiritual standpoint, we think the Dr. Robertson was on target about Haiti, in the past, with voodoo. And we believe in the Bible that the practice of voodoo is a sin, and what caused the nation to suffer. Those who read the Bible and study the history know that what Dr. Robertson said was the truth."
In his new role, Ellison will work to establish positive working relationships between African-American organizations and community leaders and members of the Republican Party.
"African Americans generally share far more values with the Republican Party than they realize - a belief in strong families, hard work, and the desire to build a better future for our children," he said in a press release. "I'm excited to be a part of this effort, and look forward to working with my fellow Republicans toward victory in November."
"The Rev. Dr. Joe Ellison, Jr. brings years of experience in political grassroots organization and community engagement and will be a great asset to our efforts to reach out and connect in communities across the state to share why Ken Cuccinelli should be our next Governor," RPV Chairman Pat Mullins said in the release.