When Georgia’s Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler isn’t complaining about the outcome of the 2020 election, she’s putting all her energy into approving negative ads about her opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Party’s candidate for her Senate seat.
On Nov. 24, Warnock responded by releasing a clever video in which he calls out Loeffler for her smear tactics while walking his adorable beagle. “…But I think Georgians will see her ads for what they are,” Warnock said as he dropped a bag of dog poop into the trash. “Don’t you?” To date, that video has generated more than 6 million views.
In an effort to help you stay as informed as possible, we took the time to separate fact from fiction as it’s clear that Loeffler has consistently taken Warnock’s words out of context. It’s a tired politician’s trick, but the truth will prevail.
Scroll through for the real story about Warnock and you’ll see that he’s not the person the GOP is making him out to be.
He’s a political and religious leader.
The 51-year-old Warnock isn’t new to the political and religious spheres. He’s been a strong advocate against social injustice—and unlike some campaigns—during his run, he has put his faith at the center of it all. That’s not surprising as he is senior pastor at the iconic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., served as co-pastor, and where the late Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis was a longtime parishioner.
“I’m an activist preacher,” Warnock told The Atlantic. “I don’t see how I could lift up that Gospel on Sunday, and then fight to get rid of health care in the richest country in the world in the middle of a global pandemic on the floor of the United States Senate.”
His preachings are all part of a larger message.
“Nobody can serve God and the military,” is a statement that Warnock has received major backlash for. However, he didn’t cower behind what he said. In a recent press conference, he elaborated and stood firm on his religious roots making him more respectable.
“What I was expressing was the fact that, as a person of faith, my ultimate allegiance is to God. Therefore, whatever else that I may commit myself to has to be built on a spiritual foundation,” Warnock explained. “The folks in my congregation, many of whom are veterans, weren’t confused at all about the message that day. That when you commit yourself to something larger than yourself you become better at that — whether that is serving in the military or serving in the U.S. Senate.”
He wants to unite, not divide.
Warnock being deemed as a religious radical is an all too familiar refrain and comparable to how Dr. King was seen during his lifetime. With the way history has played out, perhaps Warnock isn’t necessarily an extremist. “Martin Luther King, Jr., who is lauded and applauded right now, in his last years, was one of the most hated men in this country,” Dr. Freddie Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas said to Politico.
Upon closer examination, Warnock is actually aligned with the mainstream teachings of Black theology, which is centered on standing up for oppressed communities and combating injustice. Instead of misinforming and spreading hate, the reverend wants to bring people together. “People who lack vision traffic in division. They cannot lead us so they will seek to divide us,” Warnock said in an e-mail to USA Today. “And when I speak with Georgians on the campaign trail, they aren’t asking about the latest ad, they’re worried about their health care, the well-being of their family, and their ability to pay rent and put food on the table.”
He’s a friend to the Jewish community.
It seems digging up Warnock’s past sermons is the only strategy the GOP has. “We need a two-state solution where all of God’s children can live together,” Warnock said back in May 2018. “We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey…It is wrong to shoot down God’s children like they don’t matter at all. And it’s no more anti-Semitic for me to say that than it is anti-White for me to say that Black lives matter. Palestinian lives matter.”
Again, if you isolate certain sentences, it could appear that Warnock favors one side, but that’s not actually the case. Additionally, Warnock has the endorsement of Georgia’s only Jewish state senator, Democrat Mike Wilensky, alongside several other Jewish U.S. senators and the Jewish Democratic Council of America, a liberal pro-Israel group. “Reverend Warnock stands with the Jewish community, Jewish values, and stands with Israel; that’s why I support his candidacy to the United States Senate,” Joe Biden’s organizer Ben Kanas wrote in a tweet. “His opponent stands against Jewish values and embraces those who favor the antisemitism of QAnon.”
Finally, he didn’t host a rally for Fidel Castro.
As expected, the deceptive thread about the senate hopeful is relentless. “Raphael Warnock called police thugs and gangsters,” a male narrator said in an early ad for Loeffler. “Hosted a rally for communist dictator Fidel Castro. And praised Marxism in speeches and writings.”
Castro visited Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1995 where Warnock was the former youth pastor, but he reportedly wasn’t involved in the decision to invite the Cuban leader to address the congregation. Moreover, when Warnock was speaking out against the police, it was in response to the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Accountability for law enforcement is what Warnock wants to emphasize, not taking away their funding. “I do not believe that we should defund the police,” the candidate said in a radio interview, according to Factcheck.org. “I do believe that we should responsibly fund law enforcement. We need to reimagine policing and reimagine the relationships between law enforcement and communities. We certainly need to demilitarize the police, so that we can rebuild trust between the police and the community.”