KEY POINTS

  • Pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church termed the decision "contrary to God's will"
  • Bryant said he was banding with several other prominent black pastors to keep their churches shuttered
  • Many mayors in Georgia have said Gov. Kemp had not consulted with them

Georgia expects to reopen some businesses across the state as early as Friday (April 24) with specific guidelines. A black megachurch pastor in Atlanta has attacked Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) plan to open small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic as an "assault on the minority community” and “contrary to God’s will.”

“Gov. Kemp, if you have a decibel of moral integrity, before Friday comes, I am pleading on your conscience, even when the evangelicals remain silent in this hour, I stand and cry loud and spare not, that what it is you are calling for is contrary to the will of God who declared openly ‘I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly,’” said Jamal Bryant, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in a Facebook Live broadcast Tuesday night.

“I am calling on Gov. Kemp to immediately reverse and retract his order that is supposed to start on Friday. What it is that he is doing is launching, in no uncertain terms, an assault on the minority community in Georgia.”

Bryant said he was banding with several other prominent black pastors across the state, including Raphael Warnock, E. Dewey Smith and William Murphy, to keep their churches shuttered in a united show of resistance.

“I am afraid and I am frightened that this is going to set an immoral precedent for other wayward governors across the South who believe that if he can do it, then it is in fact the new standard for death to happen to the black community."

Bryant pointed out that black and brown Americans are still disproportionately dying from the new coronavirus due to higher levels of underlying health conditions and lower access to healthcare. He also pointed to issues of lower levels of testing for the virus in minority communities.

Two blacks on Kemps economic task force, Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, resigned. They said they were not informed of the governor’s decision beforehand. Many Georgia mayors also said they were not consulted in advance.

Among the businesses that can begin reopening on Friday are fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barber shops, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, their respective schools and massage therapists.

Theaters, private social clubs and dine-in services at restaurants will also be allowed to reopen on April 27 with specific social distancing guidelines and sanitation mandates. Bars, nightclubs, amusement parks and live performance venues, however, will remain closed.