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No evidence Kamala Harris called churches ‘propaganda centers’

October 11, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris this morning said that “American churches are PROPAGANDA CENTERS for intolerant homophobic, xenophobic vitriol.” She also called American pastors “knuckle-dragging disseminators of intolerance and enemies of social justice.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There is no evidence Harris made either of these statements on Sunday morning, nor is there a record of her ever saying them. A spokesman for her office in the Senate confirmed the quotes are fake.

THE FACTS: Social media posts circulating widely on Sunday painted Democratic vice presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris as a hostile critic of America’s Christian community.

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Dozens of posts on Facebook and Twitter, some shared thousands of times, used identical language, with many users claiming that they were copying and sharing posts from others.

“Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris this morning said 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’ Think about that ... “ the posts read. “That was a verbatim quote from Biden’s running mate, who, God forbid, would become President if Biden won the election and if he passed/became incapacitated.”

Several of the posts go on to call Harris an “enemy of the cross” and claim she “isn’t even bothering to hide her utter disdain & contempt for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Those aren’t real quotes from Harris, a spokesperson for her Senate office confirmed to The Associated Press.

An internet search of television news archives, public statements and tweets from Harris also revealed nothing resembling the quotes in the viral posts.

The claim that Harris attacked churches and pastors “this morning” is also suspect, since the posts have appeared on social media across several different days in October.

Some of the posts with fake quotes from Harris also present a quote from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden out of context, claiming he said on Monday that “those who hold to traditional views and intolerant christian beliefs are dregs of society.”

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Biden’s actual quote occurred in 2018 during a speech at a dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights organization.

Biden didn’t call traditional Christians the dregs of society — instead, he used that term to refer to “forces of intolerance,” including the alt-right and the Ku Klux Klan. His full comments on the topic begin around the 38-minute mark in a C-SPAN recording of the event.

“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,” Biden said. “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.”

Harris describes herself as a religious person, and attends a progressive Black Baptist church, according to AP reporting. Biden is a practicing Catholic.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536