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Already dubbed "the pro-choice pastor" by many, Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta is at it again with a radical concept to bring black men into his church.
WANF in Atlanta reported this week that Bryant is pursuing "Black men who smoke weed" as potential congregants for New Birth Missionary Baptist, and that his church wants to help Black males to work "legally" in the cannabis industry.
In a recent interview, Bryant told Rashan Ali that Black churches need to get into the 21st century and he believes launching a cannabis business will help drive membership to his church and entrepreneurship in the Black community.
"I'm mindful that I'm not after Christians. I'm after people who don't go to church," Bryant says. "Churches are just recycling people from other churches. I'm looking for people who smell like weed."
Bryant said his church brought 2,371 souls to Christ and more than 3,000 people have joined his church in the last year.
To clarify his statement about men who "smell like weed," Bryant told Ali, "I said I want people who smell like smoke because I believe these are the people God is looking for and too many of us have become so puffed up in our self-appointed sanctification that we fail to do outreach.
"The call is not to bring people to smoke at church. The call is to bring people to church so they can catch the fire. It is my intention that if we can show young people the advantages and impact of urban farming, it will make a distance difference."
In an attempt to steer young men away from a life of drugs and perhaps prison, Bryant told Ali a story of how he took a group of young men on drugs in Baltimore and "taught them how to be global traders so that they could have a meaningful life," WANF reported.
Bryant told Ali that he plans to open a clinic on the church campus with 180 days. He also "touted the medical benefits of cannabis, reciting a long list of ailments and diseases cannabis could possibly help."
In 2019, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill authorizing the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee the regulated licensing of limited, in-state cultivation, production, manufacturing and sale of low-THC oil, WANF reported.
His main goal with this idea, WANF reported, is to transform lives.
"I believe the responsibility of the church is transformation," Bryant told Ali. "That the young men who used to poison our communities now help heal them and I believe that hemp is one of the ways we can do it."
Bryant says he knows this concept isn't conventional, but that he serves and "unconventional God" and will try something else if this doesn't work.
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Shawn A. Akers is the online editor at Charisma Media.
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