Easley Pastor Runs For Congress

Candidate for 4th District seat

February 16, 2018 - 10:31 am

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 BY MATT LONG (South Carolina Radio Network)

Mark Burns (Provided)

A South Carolina televangelist who has seen his national profile rise since becoming a religious advisor to then-candidate and eventual President Donald Trump said he will run for Congress this year.

Pastor Mark Burns leads the Harvest Praise and Worship Center in Easley and also broadcasts sermons each week on the NOW Network which he helped create. Burns was relatively unknown outside the area until he became involved in Trump’s 2016 campaign. He acted as a national surrogate for Trump, appearing in numerous television interviews on the candidate’s behalf.

He hopes to replace U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, who announced last month he will not seek another term.

“I use the word of God to inspire people to become prosperous,” Burns told South Carolina Radio Network. “But now I want to use the law of man to also inspire people to become prosperous. It’s the same thing, ultimately helping people have a better life.”

He plans to file his camapign paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Friday. His campaign posted an announcement video Thursday.

Burns has attracted his share of controversy, however. He apologized in September 2016 after CNN revealed he had exaggerated his resume. The news network reported Burns had only attended North Greenville University for a single semester despite claiming he had graduated from there. The report also confronted him for claiming six years of service in the Army Reserves when he actually served in the South Carolina Army National Guard.

The pastor admitted to the inconsistencies a day before the CNN interview aired. “As a young man starting my church… I overstated several details of my biography because I was worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a new pastor,” he said at the time. “This was wrong. I wasn’t truthful then and I have to take full responsibility for my actions.”

Burns said he was not involved in politics until recent years — he says he voted for Barack Obama in 2008 — but gradually found himself moving to the Republican Party. “In the beginning, I really didn’t know of the challenge it was being a black Republican,” he said. “Because, for me, I couldn’t support anyone that supports same-sex marriage because I believe in the sanctity of marriage between man and woman. I couldn’t support anyone or any party that believes in the abortion of babies, the murder of the unborn.”

So far, State Sen. William Timmons, R-Greenville, State Rep. Dan Hamilton, R-Greenville, and Spartanburg County GOP chairman Josh Kimbrell are other Republicans who have expressed interest in running for the seat.

Despite being relatively new to politics, Burns insists he is better equipped for the job due to his national role and believes the other potential candidates have focused on the Statehouse.

Burns, who received national attention for repeating during the 2016 campaign that “All lives matter,” to counter “Black Lives Matter” protests, said he wants to increase jobs and self-reliance through significant changes to welfare programs. He said SNAP and other assistance should be temporary to avoid abuse or fraud. Burns also believes drug testing should be mandatory for unemployment benefits. “I’m passionate about helping people. I want to raise them up from the ashes,” he said. “We are the modern-day abolitionists. We’re helping set people free, even when they don’t believe their slaves to a system.”

Veteran South Carolina political pollster Robert Cahaly will be the campaign’s senior strategist for Trafalgar Group. Fundraiser Teresa Dailey will work as its finance director.

Comments ()