Republicans in Augusta County, Virginia flouted the separation of church and state after releasing an ad suggesting that only their candidates would defend "Christian heritage" if elected.

"God is a foundation of our nation," county party commitee chair Larry Roller told the Staunton News-Leader. "If you read the histories of our founding fathers, [they say] you should not run for office if you are not a Christian."

Roller's claim is refuted by Article VI of the Constitution, which states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

The ad, which was inserted in the newspaper on Thursday, states, "Preserve our Christian heritage! Vote Republican" before listing the Nov. 3 election date. The News-Leader posted a picture of the ad on Twitter, which can be seen below:

The News-Leader also noted that white supremacist groups also boast that they are preserving the country's "Christian" roots, an idea Roller said he rejected.

"There are quite a few Ku Klux Klans trying to maintain the Christian heritage," he said. "Just because some people have misused the words does not mean there is anything wrong with using 'Christian heritage.'"

The ad has already been criticized by candidates from other parties like Will Hammer, a Libertarian running against incumbent Dickie Bell (R) for his seat in the state House of Delegates who called it "pandering" on the part of Roller's organization.

"The most important factor when electing representatives to the government is if they are principled and will represent and protect the natural rights of the people, the individual, not corporations and other special interest groups," Hammer said.

Another House of Delegates candidate, Democrat Angela Lynn, called it "propaganda" for state Republicans to say they had more Christians than any other.

"It's erroneous to believe that either party has more Christians or non-Christians," she said. "I believe it is a negative reflection of them being out of touch and not doing a good job of representing all of the people."

[h/t The Friendly Atheist]