The Rev. Raphael Warnock was back in hot water Tuesday for saying in 2011 that Americans cannot serve both God and the military, prompting Sen. Tom Cotton to suggest that the Democratic candidate should withdraw from the Georgia Senate run-off race.
Mr. Warnock, whose past leftist statements have kept his campaign on the defensive, said during the sermon that “America, nobody can serve God and the military,” as shown in a video clip posted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Mr. Cotton, Arkansas Republican, responded Tuesday by tweeting: “This is an insult to everyone who served. Raphael Warnock should withdraw.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, tweeted Wednesday that “Raphael Warnock’s radical, anti-American views are disqualifying. He should withdraw from the #GASen.”
In the sermon entitled “When Truth Meets Power,” Mr. Warnock continued: “You can’t serve God and money. You cannot serve God and mammon at the same time. America, choose ye this day whom you will serve. Choose ye this day.”
Mr. Warnock, the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has faced a steady drumbeat of condemnation on the right for a near-daily unearthing of his past leftist statements, which include criticism of Israel and the police as well as praise for the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who famously declared “God damn America.”
In a Sunday interview on CNN, Mr. Warnock dodged a question on whether he attended a 1995 speech by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro at a church in Harlem while serving as youth pastor.
Warnock communications director Terrence Clark said the 2011 sermon was “based on a biblical verse that reads ‘No man can serve two masters … Ye cannot serve God and mammon,’ a biblical term for wealth.”
Mr. Warnock is running against Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the Jan. 5 run-off election whose outcome could determine control of the Senate. A second Georgia run-off will be held the same day between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff.
“Reverend Warnock was speaking about the need to commit to moral life before pursuing other priorities,” Mr. Clark told Fox News. “As the video of the congregation’s response makes clear, this is another blatant effort by Kelly Loeffler to take Reverend Warnock’s words completely out of context. Given her own decision to spend her first days in the U.S. Senate profiting off the pandemic, perhaps she should watch the sermon more closely.”
Mr. Warnock swung back Tuesday by attempting to shift attention to health care, tweeting, “One of my favorite sermons is entitled ‘Love your neighbor’. That means you don’t get rid of your neighbor’s healthcare in the middle of a pandemic.”
Republicans pointed out that Georgia has nine military installations, prompting NRSC senior advisor Matt Whitlock to tweet, “I have a feeling suggesting you can’t be a good person of faith AND serve in the military isn’t going to play well in Georgia.”