[image-1]The pastor of Emanuel AME Church is calling for the removal of a controversial campaign ad in which Congressional candidate Sheri Few challenges state leaders’ decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds following the church shooting in Charleston.

“Weak politicians are too quick to blame a horrible tragedy on a flag, or a gun, or even free speech. And that’s how bad laws are made,” said S.C. 5th Congressional district candidate Sheri Few in a new ad that premiered this week.

In the ad, Few is seen brandishing an assault-style rifle in front of the backdrop of a waving American flag.

After years and years of debate, it was the murders of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church by an avowed white nationalist that spurred South Carolina lawmakers to take down the Confederate flag that flew outside the Statehouse in Columbia. Prior to his attack on June 17, 2015, convicted shooter Dylann Roof posed for numerous photos alongside the Confederate flag, which he posted online along with a manifesto calling for a segregated society in which the white race was dominant. Roof now awaits execution following a federal conviction for the murders of nine members of Mother Emanuel, including the church’s pastor and South Carolina senator, Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

“Certain topics, realistically, should never be allowed in the political landscape, and the events of June 17, 2015, should never be utilized in this manner,” said Rev. Eric Manning, Emanuel AME’s current pastor. “To be very honest, the events of a racist committing murder is something that should never be utilized to advance someone’s political career.”

Manning warned that more consideration should be given to the potential harm that could be caused by the bold rhetoric that colors the current political landscape. The reverend did not endorse any political candidates, but applauded Few’s fellow candidates who voted to remove the Confederate flag following the shooting — Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman. In a previous ad, Few stated that when Pope and Norman voted for the removal of the Confederate flag in Columbia, the lawmakers “started a war on our history.”

“The ads should be removed and taken down. That would be the right thing to do,” said Manning, who recalled feeling a surge of anger upon first seeing Few’s most recent campaign ad. “We can’t force anyone to do certain things, but I feel compelled to strongly encourage that the ads be taken down and not utilized.”

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