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Posts Falsely Attribute Comments on Churches to Harris


Quick Take

There is no record of Sen. Kamala Harris ever calling churches “PROPAGANDA CENTERS for intolerant homophobic, xenophobic vitriol,” as viral posts on Facebook falsely claim.


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Popular posts on Facebook are attributing harsh comments about “American churches” to Sen. Kamala Harris — but there’s no record of Harris uttering the words.

The posts quote the Democratic vice presidential candidate as calling churches “propaganda centers.”

“Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris said this morning that, ‘American churches are PROPAGANDA CENTERS for intolerant homophobic, xenophobic vitriol’ and she called american pastors, ‘knuckle-dragging disseminators of intolerance and enemies of social justice,'” the posts claim.

The posts double down, calling it a “verbatim quote,” but offer no citation. We searched news accounts and transcripts and found no trace of anything resembling such a quote from Harris.

Her Senate office also told us that “this claim is false.”

Harris herself identifies as Baptist and attends Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, according to the Associated Press. As the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Harris attended a Baptist church and a Hindu temple while growing up. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, is Jewish.

At the Democratic National Convention, during her acceptance speech for the vice presidential nomination, Harris fondly recalled her mother “helping us with homework at the kitchen table — and shuttling us to church for choir practice.”

Some of the posts erroneously quoting Harris also attribute a distorted quote to Biden.

“Biden himself monday said that, ‘those who hold to traditional views and intolerant christian beliefs are dregs of society,'” one such post claims.

That’s not what Biden, a practicing Catholic, said during a September 2018 speech at a Human Rights Campaign dinner.

Biden used the term “dregs of society” after condemning what he called “forces of intolerance” against LGBTQ rights.

Biden (at 38:15) talked about how the Trump administration “and some of its most ardent right-wing supporters from the Ku Klux Klan … and the alt-right … who are trying to undo all the progress you have made, and the little that Barack and I have made with you.”

He went on to say that “around the world, LGBTQ individuals face terror and torture.”

“Even some of our democratic allies, like Romania, appear to be giving way to some narrow-minded divisive politics that have tried to define family here at home. The same kind of people. Any person of conscience, regardless of their religious or partisan beliefs, should be able to agree that discrimination and violence against any person, in any form, is simply intolerable, illegal, wrong.” He added that “using religion or culture as a license to discriminate, demonizing the community, individuals to score political points is no more justifiable around the world than it is here at home, and our policies should reflect that.”

Then, he said (41:00):

Biden, Sept. 15, 2018: But despite losing in the courts and in the court of public opinion, these forces of intolerance remain determined to undermine and roll back the progress you all have made. This time they — not you — have an ally in the White House. This time, they have an ally. They’re a small percentage of the American people. Virulent people. Some of them the dregs of society. And instead of using the full might of the executive branch to secure justice, dignity, safety for all, the president uses the White House as a literal — literal — bully pulpit, callously, callously exerting his power over those who have little or none.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.

Sources

Human Rights Campaign Dinner, Joe Biden Remarks.” C-SPAN. 15 Sep 2018.

Khalid, Asma. “How Joe Biden’s Faith Shapes His Politics.” NPR. 20 Sep 2020.

Schor, Elana. “Harris brings Baptist, interfaith roots to Democratic ticket.” Associated Press. 12 Aug 2020.

Transcript: Kamala Harris’ DNC speech.” CNN. 20 Aug 2020.