US Vice President Kamala Harris has been criticised for a political campaign video addressing around 300 predominantly African American churches in the US state of Virginia, urging them to back the Democratic candidate.
Ahead of general elections in the state of Virginia, where locals will be casting ballots for governor among other positions, Harris starts the video by recalling her experience of singing in the church's choir growing up, where she sang about "how faith, combined with determination will see us through difficult times."
"We were taught that it was our sacred responsibility to raise our voice and lift up the voices of our community. One of the most significant ways I believe that we can each use our voice is through our vote," Harris said.
The video was broadcast in churches for the first time on 18th October and it will continue to be aired until the vote takes place on 2nd November. In the video, Harris clearly endorses Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.
"I believe that my friend Terry McAuliffe is the leader Virginia needs at this moment," Harris said. "Terry McAuliffe has a long track record of getting things done for the people of Virginia. When he was governor in the wake of the recession, you'll remember, he brought 200,000 jobs to Virginia. Incomes went up and unemployment went down in every city and county in the state," she continued.
But many people have taken to social media to criticise the video, including the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Its CEO, Rachel Laser said in a tweet: "Churches airing the @VP video urging a vote for McAuliffe are engaging in a violation of the (too little enforced) Johnson Amendment. You can urge church folks to *vote*, but not to vote for a particular candidate."
Christian author Ed Stetzer also tweeted: "This is a bad idea, @VP. It was bad when the Republicans did it, and it is bad when the Democrats do it. When you mix politics and religion, you get politics."
Kamala Harris concludes the video by saying: "So early voting has already started, and this is the first year that you can vote on Sunday. So please vote after today's service."