Raphael Warnock called Jeremiah Wright's 'God Damn America' sermon 'Christian preaching at its best'

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A newly-resurfaced video shows Rev. Raphael Warnock defending Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial "God Damn America" sermon, arguing that it was "Christian preaching at its best."

"Jeremiah Wright, whose sermon, by the way, if you haven’t read the whole thing, is a very thoughtful and insightful piece on the relationship between God and government," Warnock, a Senate candidate in Georgia's Jan. 5 runoffs, said in what appears to be a roundtable discussion.

"It's a piece that I would situation in continuum with St. Augustine’s 'City of God' and Martin Luther’s 'Temple Authority,' and to what extent it should be obeyed, the reflections of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his context – some of it situated it in the continuum of Malcom. But I think it’s Christian preaching at its best."

He added: "It talks about the rub between who we are and our claims about God's kingdom, and our challenges [with] public policy on Earth. Needless to say, the clip drew a lot of attention because Jeremiah Wright happened to be the pastor of Barack Obama, then the nation's only Black senator."

Those comments came as part of a broader talk on Black theology in the U.S. Warnock's campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.

The video clip, which was posted to YouTube by The Black Church Center for Justice and Equality in 2014, touched on a longstanding issue that continued to hang over Warnock's campaign. Earlier this month, a flyer resurfaced advertising Wright as a speaker at an event hosted by Warnock's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Warnock was, in his own words, "dispatched" to defend Wright after a tape of the 2003 sermon emerged during the 2008 campaign. Some Obama advisers worried at the time that the matter might sink his candidacy.

In a 2008 appearance on Fox News, Warnock was asked about that speech and other remarks. "We celebrate Rev. Wright in the same way that we celebrate the truth-telling tradition of the Black church, which when preachers tell the truth, very often it makes people uncomfortable," he said.

"And I think the country has been done a disservice by this constant playing over and over again of the same soundbites outside of context," he said, before noting Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "America is the greatest purveyor of violence today."

He then described Wright as a "preacher and a prophet."

As recently as March of this year, when his defense of Wright was covered by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Warnock stood by his defense of Wright as well as his own past comments.

Wright previously blamed Jews in 2009 for keeping him from talking with Obama after he won the White House. He's also made a number of other inflammatory remarks, including when he said after 9/11 that "America’s chickens are coming home to roost."

During an interview in November, Warnock pushed back on accusations that he was anti-Semitic as his opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., attempted to tie him to Wright.

"I know Rev. Wright," Warnock told MSNBC's Willie Geist. "I'm not an anti-Semite. I've never defended anti-Semitic comments from anyone and Kelly Loeffler knows better," he added, before accusing her of "division and distraction."

Warnock campaign spokesman Terrence Clark previously told Fox News that the candidate "deplores and disagrees with any kind of remark that is anti-Semitic or discriminates against anyone."

He added that the candidate "doesn't agree with all of the positions other pastors support, and has said such throughout this campaign." 

"Rev. Warnock loves this country, and he supports honoring the dignity of all people, but also finding common ground to reform our broken systems," he said. "Once again, our opponents are playing the same Washington games to try to divide and distract people instead of standing up for health care in the middle of a pandemic."

The Center did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.

Fox News' Adam Shaw and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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