At a voter outreach event on Saturday, Georgia Democratic senator Raphael Warnock’s church featured a fiery sermon from a reverend who denounced evangelical Christianity as the "ideological basis" for slavery and white supremacy.
The Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Warnock serves as senior pastor, hosted a "Super Voter Saturday" panel discussion last weekend and aired a pre-taped 2020 sermon by Rev. Billy Honor. The event took place just a few days before voters will head to the polls in Georgia, which has one of the largest evangelical Christian populations in the United States.
"There is nothing about evangelical white Christianity that would make you think it values black lives," said Honor in the sermon. "The fact is that this is a tradition that devalues black bodies, so much so that the devaluing of black bodies is about as American as apple pie."
While Warnock did not speak at the event, his name was at the top of a welcome message to attendees that played at the beginning of the program. The sermon could reignite concerns about Warnock’s own controversial statements and promotion of extremist rhetoric, including a sermon in which he said Americans need to repent for their "whiteness" and his defense of anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Honor added that "evangelical Christianity" was the "ideological basis for the enslavement of Africans, the expansion of white supremacy, the resistance to reconstruction, the acceptance of racial segregation laws, and the recent dismissal of the Black Lives Matter movement to end murders of black bodies by police."
Warnock’s opponent, Republican Herschel Walker, said the sermon promoted "division and hate" and slammed Warnock for hosting it at his church.
"Raphael Warnock and his allies believe America is a bad country full of hateful people," Walker told the Washington Free Beacon. "They even smear evangelicals who love Jesus as racist. They should be ashamed."
"Their politics of division and hate has gone too far, and I won’t let them get away with it," Walker added. "I’m going to fight for our state and our country. Love is stronger than hate, and with God’s help we will defeat them and prove that grace and hope is more powerful than their lies and division."
Warnock did not respond to a request for comment.
White evangelicals make up over a quarter of registered voters in Georgia, according to a Marist poll conducted in September.
Tiffany Roberts, the social justice chair at Ebenezer, introduced the video and told the audience on Saturday that Honor "delivered [this] sermon for us at Ebenezer two years ago about Jesus’ legacy as a social justice warrior and the importance of the vote" and called it "one of my favorite sermons in life." The replayed speech was followed by a live, in-person panel discussion about voter outreach that included organizers from liberal groups Care in Action and When We All Vote.
Warnock argued in late 2016 that Americans needed to "repent" for their "worship of whiteness," the Washington Free Beacon reported in 2020. He also defended a speech by anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright—which compared U.S. leaders to al Qaeda and claimed the government invented HIV to kill black people—as a "very fine sermon."
Warnock signed a letter in 2019 comparing Israel’s actions in the West Bank with "the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa." In 2013, he also defended the Nation of Islam, a radical group led by anti-Semitic preacher Louis Farrakhan, for keeping black churches "honest."
"We've needed the witness of the Nation of Islam, in a real sense, to put a fire under us and keep us honest," said Warnock.
Honor, who delivered the sermon, is also an organizing director with the New Georgia Project, a left-leaning voter advocacy group founded by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and previously led by Warnock. Prior to the airing of his speech at Ebenezer, Honor described Wright as an "honorable freedom fighting American." He also called the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement "one of this country’s biggest enforcers of state sponsored white supremacy."