The pastor of Emanuel AME Church wants Republican congressional candidate Sheri Few to take down her gun-depicting political ad that criticizes politically correct politicians.
The Rev. Eric S.C. Manning said Few, one of several candidates in the vacant 5th Congressional District race in the Upstate, is trying to score political points in the ad that shows her holding a military-style rifle.
"This particular candidate chooses to use the events of June 17, 2015, for what some would consider as being political gain," Manning said in a press conference Thursday, referring to the date of the shooting of nine parishioners by a self-proclaimed white supremacist at the church.
"Certain topics, realistically, should never be allowed in the political landscape," he said, adding the racially motivated mass shooting at Emanuel AME falls in that category.
Few said she has no plans to alter or take down the ad.
When asked how she felt about Manning's comments, Few said it was unfortunate that the ad upset the pastor and the church.
"I would have never wanted that," she said.
Few said she condemns Emanuel church shooter Dylann Roof's actions and all incidents of hate, saying that Roof getting the death penalty is absolutely the appropriate punishment.
In the advertisement, Few appears in front of an American flag holding the weapon while complaining about lawmakers reacting to tragedies.
The ad came days after Few released another ad attacking two of her Republican opponents for voting to take down the Confederate battle flag from the S.C. Statehouse grounds in response to Roof's racially motivated murders in Charleston.
Manning said he first saw Few's latest ad Thursday morning online and was deeply concerned.
“My initial response when I received it this morning was one of just sheer, utter, immense anger,” he said.
The pastor plans to talk about the ad to his congregation on Sunday.
“We lived the events of June 17, 2015 and now somebody wants to utilize our pain for political gain?" Manning said.
"There’s just no call for that. I think it’s distasteful. ... We would have hoped that people would have understood that certain things are really out of bounds. We should not touch them. We should leave them alone. We should not disgrace the memory of those that were murdered.”
The reverend also touched on Few's attacks on GOP primary opponents current and former state representatives Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman, who voted to take down the battle flag after the church shooting.
Manning clarified that he is not endorsing any political candidate but that he wanted Pope and Norman to know that they showed courage and took a stand for what is right.
"I want to make sure that this community continues to know that Mother Emanuel will continue to speak out against injustices that we see," he said. "And also to make sure that we protect the memory, the legacy of the Emanuel 9, the survivors, the families and the church."
Few responded to Manning's comments Thursday afternoon, saying the ads were aimed at targeting political correctness that's threatening to steamroll important parts of Southern history.
She also said the ad does not directly mention Charleston.
"They bowed to political pressure and voted to remove the flag," she said. "I'm saying to the voters that we don't need a member of Congress that is going to be weak and bow to political correctness."
Few said that whenever there's a tragic event like the shooting at Emanuel AME, politicians and others are quick to react and blame objects such as the Confederate battle flag and firearms.
These objects do not kill people, she said, adding that horrendous events like the church shooting are the work of deranged individuals like Roof.
"What happened after they voted to remove the flag? All over the country they're taking down Confederate monuments, renaming streets; it's started a war on our history, Southern history and American history," Few said. "That's what communist dictators do. It's a slippery slope that we're on."