The Georgia Republican Senate nominee has claimed to be a defender of religious freedom.
Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker is attacking Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) over a 2011 sermon in which Warnock paraphrased a Bible verse to urge followers to live moral lives.
In social media posts on Monday, Walker's campaign claimed that Warnock "doesn't believe in America" because he once "said you can't serve God and the military" and because he has spoken out against systemic racism.
On Fox News on Sunday, Walker used nearly identical language to accuse Warnock of reverse racism.
"My opponent, Raphael Warnock, wants to bring wokeness into our schools, tell white kids in school, you know what, you're — you got to apologize for your whiteness. Tell black kids you have been taken advantage of," Walker told host Maria Bartiromo. "Well, that's not right. That's not right. We need leaders in Washington that are going to do the right things for our kids, they're going to do the right thing for our men and women in blue, that are not going to tell our men in service that you can't serve God and the military at the same time."
Walker's campaign also put out a press release on Wednesday in which spokesperson Will Kiley accused Warnock of "tone-deaf comments about our military."
"Comments like these degrade the service of our men and women in the military. Just like Joe Biden, Raphael Warnock only wants to mock and demonize those who don’t see eye to eye with him," Kiley claimed. "The people of Georgia deserve a Senator who will work for all of them, and Herschel Walker is the best man for the job."
The Walker campaign's comments refer to a line from a sermon that Warnock delivered in April 2011, ten years before he became a senator.
"America, nobody can serve God and the military. You can't serve God and money," Warnock, the senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, said at the time. "You cannot serve God and mammon at the same time. America, choose ye this day who you will serve. Choose ye this day who you will serve."
This was a direct reference to a line from Matthew 6:24 that states, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."
The Walker campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
Republicans used the same smear against Warnock in 2020 when he ran against appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). Loeffler and several other Republican senators took Warnock's quote out of context to frame it as an "anti-American" attack on the U.S. military.
"Raphael Warnock's radical, anti-American views are disqualifying," Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tweeted before the January 2021 runoff. "He should withdraw from the #GASen."
At the time, a Warnock spokesperson told Fox News that the comment was "based on a biblical verse" and part of a sermon about "the need to commit to moral life before pursuing other priorities."
And Warnock told reporters that the notion that no one can serve two masters "is a spiritual lesson that is basic and foundational" in his Christian faith.
"As a person of faith, my ultimate allegiance is to God, and therefore whatever else I may commit myself to, it has to be built on a spiritual foundation," Warnock said.
In the Senate, Warnock voted to deliver tens of millions of dollars for Georgia's military facilities and servicemembers through the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate passed 88-11 last December.
Walker's latest attempt to revive the attacks on Warnock's sermon also appears to contradict Walker's claims that he will defend the freedom of religion.
The former professional football player says on his campaign site that he is "a Christian" with a "personal faith in God," who "prays every day for this country, and with God’s help will bring those values with him to Washington."
"Praise God! Religious liberty has WON!" he tweeted in June after the Supreme Court ruled that a public school football coach could pray on the field after games. "Thankful to live in a nation that recognizes our freedom of religion and that we have brave Supreme Court justices who uphold that freedom guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution."
"This morning, @HerschelWalker met with pastors and faith leaders to talk about how Raphael Warnock has done more for Joe Biden than he has done for them," his campaign tweeted in August, after an event with Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition. "In America, we have [the] freedom to exercise religion — Herschel will always fight for that."
Walker has spent much of the campaign trying to appeal to white voters by dismissing the notion that racism is still a systemic problem in America. Republicans have worked to suppress the Black vote in Georgia and blocked police reform efforts.
Polls show the November race to be a toss-up.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.