Senate Runoff: Faith Leaders Call on Kelly Loeffler to End Attacks on Raphael Warnock, Black Church

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More than 100 Black faith leaders in Georgia released an open letter on Dec. 19 criticizing Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) for her attacks on her runoff opponent, the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock. Faith leaders condemned Loeffler’s characterizations of Warnock’s faith as “reprehensible falsehoods” that need to end.

The letter, first reported on by The New York Times, said faith leaders viewed Loeffler’s actions as an attack on the Black church.

“We see your attacks against Warnock as a broader attack against the Black Church and faith traditions for which we stand. We stand with Raphael Warnock! We stand for truth,” the letter said. “We stand for right and we call on you and your campaign to [cease] your coordinated attacks on the prophetic imagination of Reverend Raphael Warnock today!”

Warnock, a senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has come under fire by Loeffler’s campaign for his criticism of police officers and police brutality. In a televised debate, the Republican senator referred to her opponent as a “radical liberal” 13 times, according to The New York Times.

Warnock and Loeffler are facing off in a highly contested Senate runoff election on January 5, 2021. Another race between Sen. David Perdue (R) and Democrat Jon Ossoff will also occur that day. The two races will determine which political party controls the Senate.

The letter also criticized the unelected Republican senator for her support of the Trump campaign’s “feckless lawsuits” and disdain for Black elected officials and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“As the Georgia Senate race heats up and early voting begins, so does your naked hypocrisy and your blatant contradictions. We witnessed your naked hypocrisy as you supported 59 attempts at the delegitimization of Black voters with meaningless lawsuits by the Trump campaign operatives,” faith leaders wrote. “What can be more radical, more seditious than supporting 59 attempts to overthrow the will of the people by tossing Black votes?”

The letter noted that Loeffler characterized the BLM marches “as mobs and lawlessness” but remained silent when neo-fascist groups, the Proud Boys and the Wolverine Watchmen, engaged in political violence.

Warnock supported the open letter in a tweet posted on Dec. 20. “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.”

Loeffler, who was appointed to fill a Senate seat for Georgia in 2019, argues that she is not engaging in racist attacks but is instead criticizing Warnock’s beliefs. According to The New York Times, she said at the debate, “There is not a racist bone in my body.”

She responded to Warnock with a tweet of her own, claiming that no one has attacked the Black church, The Washington Post reported.

A campaign spokesperson for Loeffler also responded to the letter, asking The New York Times if it would be reporting on a letter by more than two dozen Black ministers condemning Warnock for his support of abortion rights. The letter claimed his support for abortion “represent grave errors in judgment and a lapse in pastoral responsibility.”

Early Voting Underway

Early voting for the two runoff elections has been underway for over a week. More than 1.6 million votes have already been cast in the runoff, according to data collected by Georgia Votes. Early voting turnout rates are just slightly lower than during the general election.

Data also reveals that 49,118 of runoff early voters did not vote in the 2020 general election. Almost 16,000 of those new voters identified as Black, while around 17,500 of them identified as white. Nearly 95 percent of early voters during the runoff also voted early during the general election.

Important Dates

December 14-31: Early voting period for runoff election.

January 5, 2021: Runoff election for two U.S. Senate seats.

Action Steps

Vote: Early voting is open across the state. Check where your polling station is here. Voters have through Dec. 31 to cast their early ballots. If voters have requested a mail-in ballot, they are encouraged to drop those ballots off as they may not arrive in time if they are mailed back. Voters who miss early voting can head to the polls on Election Day, which is on January 5, 2021.

Learn More: Head to Warnock For Georgia and Elect Jon to learn more about Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Volunteer and Donate: Several dedicated voting rights organizations are doing crucial work to get voters to the polls. Check out volunteering and donation opportunities for New Georgia Project, Rideshare2Vote, The Georgia Muslim Voter Project and Fair Fight.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.