Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant VERZUZ The Real Housewives of Potomac — Erica L. Williams

By now, most have seen The Real Housewives of Potomac’s Monique Samuels’ epic takedown of Gizelle Bryant on Part 1 of the RHOP reunion special. Gizelle is known as a mean-girl, a snarky instigator, throw a boulder and hide her hand kind of a woman. She is the ex-wife of Jamal Bryant, the lauded senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. The demise of their marriage in 2009 was public and scandalous, with tales of adultery and kids born outside of the marriage heaped upon Jamal Bryant. Although they divorced a decade ago, one of Gizelle’s storylines on the RHOP has been her and Jamal’s reconciliation.

Samuels has been on the receiving end of Gizelle’s insidiousness, with Gizelle spreading rumors about Samuels’ relationship with her husband Chris and questioning the paternity of Samuels’ oldest child. Fed up, Samuels arrived at the reunion with what she called “a binder full of receipts” on all the ladies, but it’s the text messages she had about Jamal Bryant that set social media ablaze.

Samuels recited texts from a woman Bryant was dating at the same time he’d reunited with Gizelle. To the shock of Andy Cohen, Gizelle, and the rest of the RHOP ladies, Samuels read a litany of text messages between Bryant and the woman. Among them, Bryant tries to convince the woman he and Gizelle’s reconciliation was formulated for the reality show. Samuels ended by accusing Bryant of “slinging his big D” all around Atlanta and calling him Pastor Holy Whore.

A composed Bryant took to Instagram Live days later to respond to what he deemed an assassination of his character. His rebuttal had all the narrative of an old-fashioned Baptist sermon, save the messiness and shade he sprinkled in like fertilizer on spring grass. Bryant, a third-generation preacher, drips with charisma. Morehouse educated, he is a gifted orator, known for his impassioned sermons containing the right mix of pop culture and old school doctrine to be canonized by generations of all ages.

He began by articulating his disdain for reality television, stating “they don’t represent the best of who we are.” He alleged inferences made about him on the show were a gross misrepresentation of his character. Later, he stated, “I’m not called to entertainment, I’m called to empowerment.” I should note that Bryant, in 2016, was among four hosts on the talk show ‘The Preachers,’ and although conversations didn’t mirror housewives’ tomfoolery, some of his comments on that show, including him joking about being in an open marriage but forgetting to tell his wife straddled the line.

Ironically, Bryant appeared on The Preachers talk show with John Gray and E. Dewey Smith, two preachers who have also made headlines for straying outside their marriages.

Instead of bringing a bible to aid in his repudiation of Samuels’ claims, Bryant made a point of bringing his own binder of receipts, asserting, “You can’t bring me receipts if I got the cash register.”

In his denial of wrongdoing, Bryant argued that his “receipts” carried more weight than Samuels. He attested he didn’t do anything wrong, repeating he was not involved with Gizelle when he was dating the young woman, declaring, “single people date.”

During his rebuttal, Bryant crucified his former love interest who sent the text to Samuels. He cast her as a clout chaser set on revenge. He questioned her motives and why she didn’t bother to release additional texts showing his waning disinterest in her, noting their involvement was over a year old. He demeaned her qualifications for a job at New Birth and criticized her dissertation about women empowerment, stating it lacked nuance and depth.

For what Samuels is accusing him of, Bryant is correct. He didn’t do anything wrong this time. He wasn’t married or engaged. According to Bryant, “Nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical occurred.”

However, Bryant has a history of cheating, fathering kids outside of his marriage, and having a child while unmarried.

Yet, he’s still able to stand in one of the most prominent pulpits and can preach about being a man after God’s own heart like David, and all is forgiven. I seek forgiveness daily and am in no position to judge or point fingers.

However, I don’t believe a woman preacher would be afforded the same grace as Bryant. After all, singer Le’Andria Johnson lost gigs and was publicly scorned in the Christian community when she became pregnant out of wedlock. Meagan Good caught hell for wearing a revealing dress to the BET awards because it was “unbecoming” of a preacher’s wife. Imagine if they were clergy.

It felt weird watching Bryant attempt to one-up Samuels, clapping back in the same messy fashion as she did. Should Bryant’s moral turpitude be held to a higher standard because he gets in a pulpit every Sunday and extrapolates the word of God telling us how to live righteous and holy so that we too can eat from the tree of life?

It’s a rhetorical question, as I believe arguments can be made for both sides. However, I wonder the next time I hear Bryant preach if I will be able to decipher the difference between Pastor Bryant and Pastor Holy Whore.

I’m sure I will. After all, he’s single.

Like Jesus.

Originally published at on December 18, 2020.

MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Work has appeared in Necessary Fiction, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Blood Orange Review, & elsewhere.

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