Jamal Bryant, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church located in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, told actress Rashan Ali that he suggested to his deacons that they begin legally raising cannabis in an attempt to attract young Black men to the church.
The interview took place on Ali’s “Cool Soror Podcast” in an episode titled “Holy Smoke” earlier this month (Dec. 7). During the interview, Bryant suggested that megachurches would soon die if churches don’t start reinventing themselves.
Bryant became the church’s pastor in 2018 after longtime controversial pastor Bishop Eddie L. Longdied in 2017. Long at one time had grown the church to an estimated 25,000 members, but those numbers dwindled after four men who attended the church accused Long of coercing them into sexual relationships.
Since Bryant’s installation, the church has grown despite their new pastor’s infidelity, which led to his divorce in 2009.
The outspoken pastor, who recently slammed U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker during a sermon, reminded Ali that he told his congregation after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling in June that he and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church “are pro-choice, because Jesus is,” going on to give the example of Adam and Eve being given the choice to eat of the trees in the garden to paint God as “pro-choice.”
Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “I Didn’t Survive: Emerging Whole After Deception, Persecution, and Hidden Abuse” by Naghmeh Abedini Panahi. To donate, click here.
“Christianity, in and unto itself is pro choice, but we don’t say anything, because a lot of Black churches are white evangelicals in drag, and they don’t know who it is that they are, because their politics are thrown off and [they] don’t really speak to what’s happening in the culture,” Bryant stated.
After being asked how he is leading the “effort to try to change the narrative [and] making sure that more people think like this,” Bryant said, “I’m mindful that I’m not after Christians.” He went on to say that he is “after people who don’t go to church.”
So many churches are just recycling people that come from other churches, he said. “That’s not who I’m after. I’m looking for people that smell like weed. New Birth is the largest land owning Black church in America. And so my position to my deacons is why aren’t we not raising cannabis?”
Bryant, who led the memorial services for rappers Tupac Shakur and Christopher George Latore Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.), believes that if their church began growing cannabis, he would “be able to bring in Black males. They’re able to do it legally. Teaching them farming, helping them to enhance the ecosystem.”
Predicting the response of the “Black boy” who hears about them growing “weed at the church,” Bryant said, “‘Where do I join?’ I don’t need no pamphlet for him. He’s coming in, because that’s the group that I’m going after.”
He told Ali, “Christianity is supposed to be different, but we have made Christianity politically correct. That it is a puritanical gospel that is reminding us of the 13 original colonies. Everybody’s got on a robe, singing out of a folder. We sit down at the appropriate time. We got to be out in time for brunch, where everything else has no real boundaries around it.”
If a ball game goes into overtime, we describe that as a good game, Bryant continued. “[But] if the service goes over time, we’re looking at our watch…If your service is good, you’re not mindful of time.”
“Worship is supposed to be a timeless experience. That’s why people in a bad church are always looking at the program to see what’s next,” Bryant said, going on to point out that only churches and funerals have programs. Conversely, if you go to a Beyonce concert, she doesn’t tell you what the next song will be.
“I think that it has to be repackaged and repurposed, or else…you are getting ready to witness the death of megachurches,” Bryant argued.
Bryant emphasized his prediction by saying that younger generations will not be attending megachurches. Instead, they will be watching services online.
“That which used to be sanctuaries,” he said, “will be studios…So those who are courting those wooden pews [better] get ready to sell them on eBay, because if you don’t repackage, then your church is gonna be a condo.”
This article originally appeared at ChurchLeaders.
Jesse T. Jackson is the Content Editor for ChurchLeaders. Raising four children with his wife, Jackson also serves as a deacon, a growth group leader, and is a member of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio.