The topic has come up several times in the Georgia Senate race, including during the debate last week, and each time Raphael Warnock has answered in the same fashion. When accused of evicting poor people from the apartment complex operated by his church, Warnock simply declares that they “don’t evict people.” That contracts the reporting from several outlets and witnesses, but that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. Unfortunately, two days before he made that declaration last Friday, three more of his tenants received eviction notices. And these weren’t long-term delinquents trying to game the system, either. Some of the people were only behind on a single month’s rent by a couple of weeks, with one of them owing only $115 in back rent. How will Warnock square these documented facts with his very public claims? (Free Beacon)

Georgia Democratic senator Raphael Warnock forcefully denied the charge that his church is trying to evict chronically homeless tenants, telling Georgia voters on Friday that those are “false charges” and an attempt to “sully Ebenezer Baptist Church.” But just two days earlier, the apartment complex owned by his church filed eviction proceedings against three additional residents, with the goal of ousting tenants who owed as little as $115 in past-due rent.

Columbia Tower at MLK Village filed removal proceedings against three tenants on Oct. 12, one day after the Washington Free Beacon broke the news that the church-owned building had filed a dozen eviction lawsuits against residents of the building since the start of the pandemic.

Residents told the Free Beacon that Columbia Residential, the building’s administrators, has become more aggressive in its rent collection policies, and sent out a notice in September saying it would no longer accept late fees and would start removal proceedings after five days of non-payment.

That’s a fairly harsh eviction policy in my view. Landlords clearly have the right to seek eviction proceedings against repeat offenders and deadbeats, but someone who is late on a single month’s rent should be able to get a little breathing room, or perhaps agree to pay a small late fee after they are caught back up. We don’t need to address whether this is a very “Christian” attitude to take toward these people who may soon be homeless because this is a business that the church is operating and even they have a bottom line.

What’s amazing to me is that there is such an easy out for Warnock to take in this entire mess and simply refuses to do so. His church, like many others, operates a variety of charitable outlets, including food banks and emergency shelters. They also operate an apartment complex. The apartment complex is not a charitable endeavor. It’s a real estate operation, though they likely take pride in renting to less fortunate members of the community.

All Warnock had to do was say that the church’s funds were not unlimited and are needed for other worthy causes. People who can’t or won’t pay their rent need to move out and perhaps look into some other shelter situation. That’s absolutely all it would take. How many of us would argue that a landlord, be it a church or a megacorporation, should simply turn a blind eye and not bother collecting the rent?

But Warnock can’t seem to do that. He has to paint himself as flawless in such things. As I’ve said in the past, he’s running for election far more as a pastor than as a public servant with a keen eye for policy. As long as he comes off looking like a saint, he assumes that he’s earned everyone’s vote no matter how counterproductive his policies may have been. Also, when he said that his church doesn’t evict people, he was either lying or speaking from an uninformed or incompetent position. The former is not a good look for a man of the cloth. The latter speaks poorly of his suitability as a legislator.

The voters of Georgia aren’t electing a Pope. They’re electing a Senator. You can admire Warnock’s service to the church if you feel that’s appropriate without feeling as if you owe him six years in the upper chamber while the nation struggles through tumultuous times. Herschel Walker is no saint either and has made more than his share of rookie mistakes while embarking on a career in politics. But he’s at least earned a chance to show everyone what he can do.

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