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Controversial pastor gives peaceful message

Posted: 12:17 PM, Jan 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-18 17:21:36Z
A controversial pastor came with a peaceful message at Monday's MLK breakfast in St. Pete. 
 
For weeks the LGBT community has been calling for Rev. Jamal Bryant to be removed as the keynote speaker of the event following what they call Bryant's divisive statements about the gay community.
 
Bryant spoke this morning, but not without a bit of protest. 
 
A very small group of protestors actually stood up and turned their backs on Rev. Jamal Bryant when he spoke. 
However, most of the 13-hundred in attendance were there to show their support. Bryant's message was mostly about unity. He also addressed the controversy surrounding his visit.
 
"If this is truly a democratic society, I have the freedom of religion and I have the freedom of speech," Bryant told ABC Action News.
 
Rev. Bryant didn't hold back his thoughts when he spoke with ABC Action News after Monday morning's MLK breakfast. Bryant, a highly followed and sought after speaker from Baltimore has gotten criticism regarding sermons where he described the gay lifestyle as a sin.
"To say that it's sin, that's in accordance to the Bible that I read. I don't look at saying sin is bashing. The bible says all have sinned," Bryant told ABC Action News.
 
Following the word that Bryant would be the keynote speaker at the event, those in the gay community in St. Pete spoke out loudly against it.
 
"I think when someone stands up and makes such a statement against another group of people that I have my right to stand up and share my opposition," said gay rights activist Robert Wallace.
 
The controversy grew when mayor Rick Kriseman refused to give Bryant a key to the city in recognition of his visit. The mayor's office called Bryant's words divisive. Speaking at the event Monday, Kriseman tried to defuse what's been a simmering issue.
 
"We will not always agree, as long as dignity and respect underscore our exchanges mutual agreement need not be our goal," said Kriseman.
      
Bryant's sermon revolved more around unity and love for the gay community and even protesters. He did however jab the mayor about not receiving that honor.
 
"There was some issue to it and everybody knew what the elephant was in the room. I understand that, but we can't be all things to all people," Bryant told ABC Action News.