After spending his adult life preaching about politics from the church pulpit, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, 51, has decided to enter the political arena in a more direct route. For more than 15 years, he has spoken from one of the world’s most famous pulpits, Ebenezer Baptist Church, once the home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Republicans have tried to portray Mr. Warnock as a dangerous radical, though he says his role is one of a moral compass. He has said some of his sermons are designed to make people uncomfortable, urging Black churches to be more accepting of gay people and criticizing them for being “shamefully slow” to focus on gender inequality. In his book, he criticized white churches for being participants “in slavery, segregation and other manifestations of white supremacy.”
Mr. Warnock grew up in a housing project in Savannah, Ga., where he was the 11th of 12 siblings. Both his father and mother were pastors. He gave his own first sermon at the age of 11 and, after graduating from Morehouse College, went on to Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he also worked as a youth minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where another preacher-turned-politician, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., once led.
Mr. Warnock ran as one of 20 candidates in the November election. He was the anointed Democrat, with the support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and received the most votes of any candidate in the race. But he did not reach the 50 percent threshold required to avoid a runoff election between him and the Republican incumbent, Senator Kelly Loeffler.