To win over conservative voters, Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker has teamed up with an athlete who has become the symbol of opposition to transgender participation in sports.
During a campaign stop in Calhoun on Tuesday, Walker said transgender kids would not be able to access heaven, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
In a rally alongside Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who became famous for her fight against NCAA policies that allow transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity, Walker said, “Jesus may not recognize you because he made you a boy. He made you a girl.”
“When I get to heaven, I want the Lord to recognize me,” Walker quipped. “Because I can tell you right now, they’re telling the young kids in school, you can be a boy tomorrow even if you’re a girl.”
Sen. Raphael Warnock, Walker’s opponent and the incumbent senator in the race, knows a thing or two about heaven. The Georgia senator has been senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — Martin Luther King Jr.’s former congregation — since 2005.
Warnock, like many Democrats, opposes efforts to ban transgender students from sports. He voted against a Senate measure in 2021 that would have banned trans athletes from competing under their gender identity.
In 2020, Warnock expressed his support for the LGBTQ+ community because of and not despite his religious position.
In a piece for The Advocate, Warnock wrote, “For 15 years as senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, I have championed the fight for equality in our state, standing firm from my pulpit against so-called religious freedom bills to support the dignity of all people. But to ensure equality for all, we need comprehensive legislation passed in Congress to enshrine equal rights for all against the whims of bad bills or the changing tides of our nation’s highest court.”
It’s unclear whether Walker believes that all sexual minorities are barred from his version of heaven.
Walker, who has recently been revealed to be the father of several secret children, has his flamboyant son’s support. Christian Walker does not identify as gay but says he’s attracted to men.
In June, the younger Walker posted a video screed on Twitter with the caption, “Pride month makes no sense. You have all your rights, now SHUT UP. Your sexuality is not an accomplishment. Leave everyone alone and stop projecting your insecurity.”