Pastor running for Senate: Abortion rights are 'consistent' with my beliefs as a minister

 Rev. Raphael Warnock
Rev. Raphael Warnock | Courtesy of Raphael Warnock

The pastor running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia claimed in a recent podcast interview that abortion is “consistent with” his beliefs as a minister and vowed to fight to keep it legal if he wins the election.

Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat running in the special election to finish the remainder of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson’s unfinished term, made the comments during an appearance on WGAU host Tim Bryant’s “Mission: Timpossible” podcast last Thursday. 

Bryant, who interviews local and statewide leaders on his show based in Athens, asked Warnock how the Democratic Party’s support for abortion rights fits with his role as a “minister, a leader of the church, (and) a man of God.” 

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Warnock serves as the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both Martin Luther King Sr. and Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastors.

The pastor responded to Bryant’s question by declaring that he believes that health care is a “human right” and “something that the richest nation in the world provides for its citizens.”

“[A]nd for me, reproductive justice is consistent with my commitment to that,” he stated. “I believe unequivocally in a woman’s right to choose.”

Warnock argued that a woman’s decision to have an abortion as “something that we don’t want government engaged in,” adding that such a decision is “between her and her doctor and her minister.”

“I will fight for that in the United States Senate,” he promised. 

Warnock indicated that he would also work to make sure that “women can receive the kind of services that they need in order to have a healthy pregnancy and … healthy baby.”

After discussing the high infant mortality rates in the African-American community and the racial disparities among women who die during childbirth, Warnock doubled down on his support for “women’s health, women’s choice and reproductive justice.” 

The reverend told Bryant that his advocacy on behalf of those issues was “consistent with” his view as a Christian minister.

“Do you think it’s consistent with God’s view, that God endorses the millions of abortions we’ve had in this country since Roe v. Wade?” Bryant asked, referencing the 1973 Supreme Court decision that determined there is a national right for mothers to choose an abortion. 

Warnock responded: “I think that human agency and freedom is consistent with my view as a minister.”

The Christian Post reached out to Warnock’s campaign for comment on his beliefs about abortion but was told that he was not available for an interview this week.

Warnock's comment on Bryant's program drew the ire of at least one prominent African American Christian.

"I’d like to know what book the candidate uses as their foundation for truth and their guiding principles?" Tony Dungy, a hall-of-fame National Football League coach, wrote in a tweet. "It couldn’t be the Bible."

"Read Psalm 139. Here is part of it," Dungy added. "If you believe the Bible is the word of [God] you can’t read this and conclude that God doesn’t view a baby in the womb as a life.

Warnock is one of several candidates running in the special election to replace the 75-year-old Isakson, who stepped down from the Senate at the end of last year due to health issues. 

The winner of the special election will serve the remaining two years of Isakson’s term and will have to run for re-election for the full six-year term in 2022.

Incumbent Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Women’s National Basketball Association team Atlanta Dream, was appointed to Isakson’s seat in January by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. 

The special election coincides with the regularly scheduled Senate election in Georgia, where Republican Sen. David Perdue is running for re-election against Democrat Jon Ossoff. 

In the special Senate election, all candidates will run on the same ballot regardless of the party.

Should no candidate receive more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates receiving the highest share of the vote will advance to a runoff, which will take place on Jan. 5, 2021. 

Some speculate that control of the U.S. Senate may not be determined until the Georgia special election is decided. 

Along with Warnock, Loeffler will also be challenged by Democrat Matt Lieberman, son of former Connecticut senator and Democrat vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman.

Loeffler also faces a challenge from Republican Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee who has established a reputation as a staunch defender of President Donald Trump. Collins was one of the co-authors of the bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation passed in 2018. 

While Warnock hopes to represent the Democratic Party in the runoff, recent polls suggest that a Democrat might not even make it to the runoff. 

A poll taken last month by Monmouth University shows Loeffler and Collins as the two candidates with the highest level of support. A poll conducted by SurveyUSA at the beginning of August shows Loeffler in the lead with Collins and Warnock tied for second place.

The Real Clear Politics average of Georgia special election polls shows Loeffler in the lead with 25.3% support, followed by Collins with 21.0% support and Warnock with 14.7% support. Meanwhile, the RCP average shows Lieberman with 12.7% support.

While Georgia has become more competitive at the presidential level, it still leans toward the Republican Party. 

Donald Trump’s 5-point margin of victory in the state was a slight decrease from Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s 8-point margin of victory there in 2012.

In 2020, the margin could be even closer. The Real Clear Politics average of recent polls taken in Georgia shows Trump leading Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 1.1 percentage points. The Real Clear Politics average for the regularly scheduled Senate race shows Perdue leading Democrat Ossoff by 4 percentage points.

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