"I don't know if these people have ever heard the gospel. Not only are they in bondage to their sin but they are in bondage to religion." Phil Rizzo 2011 Video on Catholics.

MIDDLETOWN, NJ - According to the Pew Research Center, religion of all types remains a major force in New Jersey communities. Christianity dominates and Catholics are a major part of that constituency. Christian and Non-Christian Faiths comprise fully 81% of adults in the state. 78% of adults in New Jersey say religion is very or at least somewhat important in their lives. 

Phil Rizzo, a newcomer running in the 2021 Republican Primary for Governor of New Jersey, stated in a 2011 video that one of the largest faith groups in the state, Catholics, are 'not only in bondage to their sin, but they are in bondage to religion'. It's getting some unwanted attention as a negative attack on one of the larger blocks of voters in the State of New Jersey - Catholics.

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Who is 'Jersey Rizzo'?

The candidate Phil Rizzo also goes by the name 'Jersey Rizzo' - now a pastor, he was previously a real estate developer.  Rizzo, who started his campaign Facebook page a couple of months ago, is running against Republican Jack Ciattarelli. 

His campaign, which is posting about #RizzoMania of late, tried to explain the video that is making rounds in politics circles across the state.

“This video reflects Phil’s theological/doctrinal position as a protestant minister,” said Joanna Duka, a spokesperson for the Rizzo campaign on Friday to SaveJersey editor Matt Rooney (who broke the story). “It’s irrelevant to his political position or to what his disposition would be as Governor.” 

Meaning, he means what he said about Catholics. Click below to view it:

Rizzo lives with his family about 45 minutes away from his church in a home in Morris County. It's his former home which he sold to his church. The transaction is also a matter of some controversy According to a story in Politico, by switching ownership to the church, the property got the ultimate property tax cut. Rizzo now pays zero in property taxes. According to the story, since selling the house to the church, the home has undergone luxury improvements, according to the Zillow listing. In September 2020, it was put up for sale, but the listing was withdrawn in November, according to Zillow. The asking price was $2.65 million.

The Primary is June 8th.