The New York City mayoral candidate has been accused of being disrespectful for saying “s***” in a house of worship.
Mr Yang was reminiscing about moving to the city during a campaign stop at St Ann’s Church and The Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights on Saturday night.
“I moved here as a 21-year-old law student at Columbia. I didn’t know s***,” he told a couple of dozen voters at the event inside the church, adding: “You know, it’s like when you show up as a 21-year-old.”
“I have the kind of life and career that I could never have even imagined as a 21-year-old, and every single good thing that has happened to me personally and professionally was made possible by New York City.”
Despite the context, some were unimpressed with Mr Yang’s choice of words.
“[Call] me old fashioned, but regardless of your feelings about religion, don’t disrespect a church like this,” tweeted one person.
“So disrespectful the way you cussed in church. You’re definitely not mature enough to run the city,” said another.
“I don’t have to be religious to say that him cussing in a church is wrong,” read a further post.
Many though defended the tech entrepreneur and former Democratic primary candidate for president, noting that while the remark was made inside a church building, it was not made at a religious service.
“In A CHURCH, not IN CHURCH. There was no congregation and no service being held. It’s HUGELY different,” tweeted one person.
A spokesperson for the Yang campaign reiterated that the event was a campaign town hall, not a religious service.
“Andrew was having a good time with the audience at today’s town hall, laughing and sharing stories,” said Jake Sporn. “As everyone there knew, he has incredible respect for the church and this wasn’t a service.”
Others online noted the positive message the candidate was conveying about bringing the city back to life after the pandemic.
Mr Yang referred to the city that he would like to run as “the most fundamental activator and transformer of human potential in the history of the world. That is what is at stake. And that does not happen over Zoom”.
One person sarcastically pointed out that the cursing incident showed: “Dude's getting more New York by the day.”
Mr Yang is running in a particularly crowded field of two dozen candidates to secure the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York City.
With new ranked-choice voting and good name recognition off the back of his unsuccessful presidential run, Mr Yang is thought to have the edge on many of the other candidates.
He has led all polls until the most recent when he slipped behind Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams, with 18 per cent to Mr Adams’ 21 per cent in a survey of 500 likely Democratic voters.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer followed on 15 per cent. No other candidate polled in double digits in the race to replace outgoing mayor Bill de Blasio.
Competing to appear on the ballot for the Republican Party are Fernando Mateo, founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, and Curtis Silwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and a radio talk show host.
Both the Democratic and Republican primaries are scheduled for 22 June.