AME senior bishop: America is 'armed to the teeth' and 'we're killing each other left and right'
Rev. John Richard Bryant speaks to the National Press Club (C-SPAN)

The Rev. John Richard Bryant, Senior Bishop of the AME Church, on Wednesday praised the "Black Live Matter" movement and called on churches to reject the urge to arm their members.


During a speech at the National Press Club, Bryant explained that the "Black Lives Matter" movement was a reaction to the fact that young people were seeing their friends killed by police.

"Suppose I got up from my seat and came where you are and hit you in the hed with a hammer," the bishop said. "Would it be proper for me to tell you how to say ouch?"

"There is a large group of people who are suffering, one in four in the criminal justice system, outlandish numbers, unemployed, can't get a job," Bryant pointed out. "Then to add insult to injury, those who have jobs and are still poor because the jobs pay so little."

Bryant called on members of the black church to "sanitize" and provide leadership to the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

"But right now, there is a deep feeling of frustration in the souls of people who feel that in this culture, in this society, their lives don't matter," he observed. "So they're saying, 'Hey! Look at me, I'm a man, I'm a woman... It's the response of the human soul."

When it came to protecting black churches in the South from hate crimes following the deadly attack by a white supremacist on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, Bryant insisted that God -- and not guns -- was the answer.

"I do not want to see churches armed," he insisted. "I would hate the the church would follow suit of the culture, and everybody is armed to the teeth... What it has demonstrated is it really doesn't work. We are armed to the teeth and we're killing each other left and right."

The bishop dodged one question about the acceptance of homosexuality in the black church, saying that he wanted to keep his remarks to race relations because LGBT rights had gotten most of the attention in recent months.

But he did have some advice for GOP candidate Donald Trump: "You must be born again."

"When you listen to the candidate and you listen to what he's running on, it's money," Bryant remarked. "I really do believe, what we need in leadership are those who think deeper than the material."

"We need in this country leadership that sees us, that our burden is their burden, that there are no easy fixes but counsel, pray, collaboration needs to take place," he argued. "So anybody who says I'm worth so much so I can be your leader -- no, you must be born again of the spirit and of the soul to be the father of a nation."

Watch the video below from C-SPAN, broadcast Aug. 12, 2015.