- A group of over 100 pastors criticized the campaign strategy of GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, calling her out for political attacks against Democrat Raphael Warnock which they feel have devolved into “a broader attack against the Black Church.”
- “We call on you to cease and desist your false characterizations of Reverend Warnock as ‘radical’ or ‘socialist,’ when there is nothing in his background, writings or sermons that suggests those characterizations to be true, especially when taken in full context,” they wrote in an open letter, which was released on Saturday.
- In a year where racial and social justice have been at the forefront of the national debate, especially among many Black parishioners, the pastors slammed Loeffler for criticizing Warnock as he addressed those very same issues.
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A group of over 100 pastors blasted the campaign strategy of GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, calling her out on Saturday for political attacks against her Democratic opponent, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, which they feel have devolved into “a broader attack against the Black Church.”
In an open letter, signed mostly by Black clergy leaders local to Georgia while some live out of state, the group criticized the Loeffler campaign’s fervent depiction of Warnock, the senior pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, as a “radical” and “a socialist.”
The New York Times first reported the release of the letter.
“We call on you to cease and desist your false characterizations of Reverend Warnock as ‘radical’ or ‘socialist,’ when there is nothing in his background, writings or sermons that suggests those characterizations to be true, especially when taken in full context,” they wrote.
In a year where racial and social justice have been at the forefront of the national debate, especially after the May 25 death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis, the pastors slammed Loeffler for criticizing Warnock as he addressed those very same issues.
“Your most recent attacks against Warnock for sermons condemning police brutality, advocating criminal justice reform, and expressing support for measures to reduce gun-violence – all concerns of his congregation – are beyond the pale and cannot go unaddressed by members of the faith community,” they wrote. “The reprehensible falsehoods must stop!”
The pastors accused Loeffler of failing to address issues of racial justice, which are highly resonant among Black voters, saying that she showed “disdain for Black elected officials and Black Lives Matter marches against systemic racism.”
The pastors also called out Loeffler for decrying religious-based attacks against Amy Coney Barrett during the conservative jurist’s Supreme Court nomination process while employing what they feel are religious-based attacks against Warnock.
“We witnessed how Conservatives uproariously cried foul when anyone asked how Amy Coney Barrett’s faith might affect her rulings as she was under consideration for the high court,” they wrote. “We remember your tweet characterizing those perceived attacks against Barrett as ‘disgusting’ but now you characterize Warnock’s religious convictions as ‘despicable, disgusting, and wrong.’ You continue to parse and take out of context decades old utterances by Warnock from the pulpit.”
On Sunday, Warnock responded to content of the letter on Twitter.
“My faith is the foundation upon which I have built my life,” he wrote. “It guides my service to my community and my country. [Loeffler’s] attacks on our faith are not just disappointing – they are hurtful to Black churches across Georgia.”
—Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) December 20, 2020
On Sunday, Loeffler responded to Warnock on Twitter, writing that “no one attacked the Black church.”
“We simply exposed your record in your own words,” she added. “Instead of playing the victim, start answering simple questions about what you’ve said and who you’ve associated yourself with. If you can’t – you shouldn’t be running for U.S. Senate.”
—Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) December 20, 2020
In the letter, the pastors also pivoted to Black voting rights, saying that Loeffler’s endorsement of President Donald Trump’s continued legal action against the 2020 election results is an affront to Black voters.
“We witnessed your naked hypocrisy as you supported 59 attempts at the delegitimization of Black votes with meaningless lawsuits by the Trump campaign operatives,” they wrote. “What can be more radical, more seditious than supporting 59 attempts to overthrow the will of the people by tossing Black votes?”
Loeffler and Warnock are locked in a tight January 2021 runoff election in Georgia, which will determine control of the Senate and take place just weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
A separate runoff election, also set for January 5, will feature a contest between GOP Sen. David Perdue, who is running for reelection to a second term, and his Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff.