ATLANTA — A pastor of a popular Atlanta church spoke out against Governor Brian Kemp's decision to reopen Georgia's economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Kemp announced Monday afternoon some places would soon be allowed to reopen under strict guidelines such as fitness centers, bowling alleys, nail care artists, barbers, cosmetologists and hair stylists, massage therapists and estheticians.
Places of worship are allowed to hold in-person services but under certain guidelines with social distancing. Online and call-in services, Kemp said, remain as good options.
In an interview with 11Alive, Jamal Bryant, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in DeKalb County said he believes Gov. Kemp's decision is "reckless and irresponsible" and a bold "slap in the face."
"Resolutely we are not opening church. We believe that the governor's decision is reckless and irresponsible considering Atlanta has not even reached its peak," Bryant said. "I am disappointed in his moral leadership and bending to the pressure of commerce."
Bryant said people should continue to stay home.
"Sometimes laws are not moral or ethical and this is an example of a law or a suggestion that we ought to ignore. We need to stay home, wash our hands and practice social distancing," Bryant stated.
The pastor of the megachurch also said it’s a slap in the face to urge people to comply based on the data and then make this decision based on the same data.
"Our Mayor, Keisha, has been very clear that our numbers are spiking and we're not seeing them go down like New York," he stated.
Kemp said Monday, "In the same way that we carefully closed businesses and urged operations to end to mitigate the virus’ spread, today, we are announcing plans to incrementally - and safely - reopen sectors of our economy."
Bryant believes the new order is putting Georgians in danger, specifically African Americans.
"We have to stand vehemently against the governor and this position because he is opening up stores and opening up caskets at the exact same time," Bryant said.
He said he doesn't plan on opening the church just yet.
"We will not have physical church," he said. "Quite frankly I don't see us getting into the church before June."
He plans to write Kemp a letter later Tuesday.
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