Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams welcomed support from multiple progressive preachers ahead of her second unsuccessful bid against incumbent Republican Brian Kemp.
After narrowly defeating Abrams four years ago, Kemp was re-elected by a nearly 8-point margin, significantly outperforming his rival even as other swing-state Republicans across the country experienced lackluster results. As chronicled by the account Woke Preacher Clips, Abrams visited multiple churches in Georgia over the past few months as she attempted to garner grassroots support among fellow liberals, earning the endorsement of several ministers and occasionally talking from the pulpit herself.
William Watley of Saint Philip African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia, chastised men in his congregation for “not voting as we should” for Abrams. He contended that Kemp was “loyal to a demon who has been openly hostile to all minorities,” a reference to former President Donald Trump, and “stole the last election.”
“We need to do our part to make sure that Stacey Abrams is elected governor and Raphael Warnock is elected senator,” he continued. “As your pastor, I ask that you listen to me.”
The support for Abrams emerging from predominantly African-American denominations occurred even as mainstream media outlets harped about white Christian nationalism. Evangelical publications which singled out conservative-leaning ministers for purportedly mixing faith and politics by addressing abortion, transgenderism, and other matters related to public morality were comparatively silent as Abrams enjoyed explicit support from faith leaders.
Creflo Dollar of Christian World Changers Church International in College Park, Georgia, provoked applause from his congregation when noting that Abrams was in attendance. “So you already know what to do, right?” the prosperity gospel preacher added. “Make it happen.”
Multiple chapel speakers at Howard University likewise encouraged students to back Abrams in her gubernatorial campaign. One claimed that a “demon of disinformation” was causing black males to support Warnock and avoid backing Abrams, while another asserted that Abrams “rebelled” against Jim Crow in the same way that John the Baptist “rebelled” against the Pharisees and Jesus Christ “rebelled” against death.
Churches are generally established as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, which are “absolutely prohibited” from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign” in support of or opposition to any candidate running for “elective public office,” according to regulations from the Internal Revenue Service. The law includes “public statements of position,” whether verbal or written, “made on behalf of the organization,” which “clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.”
When Abrams herself took to the pulpit, she claimed that she was “running for this office in the legacy of Deborah,” the only woman to serve as a judge over Israel. Though Abrams said that Deborah was “a warrior who believed that you fight for your people,” she failed to mention that Deborah admonished male military commander Barak to wage war against the Canaanite armies rather than entering into the battle herself.
In another instance, Abrams explained her pro-abortion stance from the pulpit at another African Methodist Episcopal church. She said that women with ectopic pregnancies must “wait until they’re about to bleed out” before a doctor can assist them, even though Georgia abortion regulations explicitly include a carveout for ectopic pregnancies.
Abrams, speaking at Saint Mark United Methodist Church, where both of her parents once served as ministers, lauded the congregation for its “affirmation” of the LGBTQ movement, calling the acceptance of homosexuality “the epitome of what my faith tells me to be.”
After her campaign failed for a second time, Abrams cited the words of the apostle Paul recounting his suffering for the sake of the gospel. “I am, too, reminded of what Scripture tells us… ‘We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. We are perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken. Cast down, but not destroyed.’ I know the results are not what we hoped for tonight, and I understand that you are hurting and you are disappointed,” she told supporters. “I am, too. We may not have made it to the finish line, but we ran that race.”