A campaign ad for Stacey Evans, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Georgia governor, has drawn the ire of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the ad was filmed without, according to the church, its permission.
Evans, a former state representative, is seeking the nomination along with another ex-lawmaker, Stacey Abrams.
Portions of the ad were filmed inside the church over the annual Martin Luther King Jr. ecumenical service.
“This was done without our knowledge, authorization or consent,” the church said Thursday night. “When we became aware of the ad, upon its release on various social media platforms, we immediately contacted the campaign and asked that it be removed.
“While it appears that the campaign did comply with our request, the ad has since gone viral and has created considerable conversation and questions on social media and in other public spaces,” the statement continued. “Ebenezer Baptist Church, in accordance with its 501 c(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service, cannot and does not endorse political candidates.”
Evans’ campaign blamed Abrams for the controversy.
“The Abrams campaign has decided to distort a video made by the campaign’s digital company,” the campaign said. “As is usual in modern campaigns, they accompany Stacey to events so that the campaign can share our activities with the public. The digital company’s camera was one of many cameras recording the service. All images and sounds come from what happened during the service, including the music and the speakers.”
Evans’ campaign also said the candidate “has publicly celebrated the King holiday every year of her public life, including at the Cobb County NAACP’s annual event and with service projects.”
“Additionally, our church leadership and administration does not condone such use of the church’s iconography or worship space,” the church said. “Any official videography and photography should be approved by the church office in advance.”
The race between Evans, who is white, and Abrams is turning out to be racially divisive. Abrams is seeking to become the nation's first black female governor in a state where Republicans hold every statewide elected office.
This past August, Evans was shouted down at a Netroots Nation event in Atlanta by protestors who shouted "Trust black women. Trust black women."