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Youngkin’s ‘almighty creator’ rhetoric in new diversity training offends some state employees

Gov. Glenn Youngkin greets lawmakers at the Capitol as he arrives to deliver his first State of...
Gov. Glenn Youngkin greets lawmakers at the Capitol as he arrives to deliver his first State of the Commonwealth address. His administration overhauled mandatory diversity training for state employees to include religious references.(Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 10:58 AM EDT
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A new diversity training Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration enacted includes two references to a “creator,” religious language that struck several workers who saw it as inappropriate for inclusion in training material that’s mandatory for new state government employees.

The Youngkin administration created the “Working Together for Virginia” video as its own attempt to comply with a 2020 law requiring the state’s human resources agency to provide an online diversity and cultural competency training course for state employees.

The “creator” lines appear to be drawn from a portion of Youngkin’s inaugural speech that was repeated in a later executive order that reshaped the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the governor’s cabinet.

“Most of all, every one of us is made in the image of our creator,” the narrator in the training course says, quoting from Youngkin’s executive order. “Since the first settlers arrived a little more than 400 years ago, we have been an imperfect people on the course to a more perfect union. At times, we’ve truly failed to live up to our ideals, but we all want to do what is right and what is morally just, even if we fall short. What is seared in our heart by a loving, almighty creator is not a desire for power or conquest, not a love of self or personal advancement, rather it’s a belief that life is worth living when we serve a greater cause than self.”

Three state employees who spoke to the Virginia Mercury on the condition of anonymity to avoid job retaliation described being shocked to find religious themes in a training they were required to take.

“It was an instant, knee-jerk, gut reaction that this is wrong on any level,” said one self-described agnostic employee. “I’m working for the state. I didn’t choose to go work for the church down the street where I expect this.”

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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