The Brooklyn pastor whose recent livestreamed sermon was interrupted by jewelry thieves wants church leaders to be permitted to carry guns. Bishop Lamor Miller Whitehead, who, along with his wife, was robbed of about $1 million in valuables by three armed people on July 24, held a press conference five days later to urge action by politicians.
“They need to pass a law expeditiously that pastors of houses of worship—anyone on the ecclesiastical staff—need to be able to have permits for firearms,” Whitehead said of lawmakers. “If the teachers can have [a gun], we should be able to have it.”
Whitehead, a prosperity-gospel preacher who has served prison time for grand larceny and identity theft, added, “No matter if we have a record, it should be exempt. So we should be able to bear arms as the Constitution says.”
Lamor Miller Whitehead on Surviving Heist: ‘I’m a Miracle’
In his press conference, Bishop Lamor Miller Whitehead, 44, urged President Biden and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to act swiftly. “I’m calling on every elected official that has power to protect houses of worship,” said Whitehead, who leads the small congregation Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches. “We need protection. We need you to sympathize with us. We don’t get the luxury of having firearms. All we’re asking is help us protect ourselves. Pass a law where we can carry our firearms, because this gun violence has gone to a new level.”
In the wake of recent mass shootings, Gov. Hochul has tightened gun restrictions in the state. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a longtime friend of Whitehead’s, answered “no” when a reporter asked if “clergy should get a special dispensation when it comes to gun permits.” But Adams added, “No one in this city should be the victim of armed robbery, let alone our faith leaders and congregants.” Police continue to investigate “and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice,” the mayor said.
Whitehead, who’s offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the suspects’ arrest, described the heist as an attempt by Satan to thwart his ministry efforts. “The devil didn’t want me back in this pulpit,” he said, before re-enacting the robbery a week after it occurred. “God said, ‘You can’t take his life. You can touch his material things, but you can’t touch his soul.’”
The pastor told worshipers, “I’m a miracle. I’m not supposed to be here today. Everybody wants to talk about what the tabloids are talking about and forget about the miracle.”
What the Tabloids Are Talking About
The flashy pastor, who wears Gucci suits and sits on a throne-like chair during worship, has seen his past troubles resurface since the robbery made headlines. A congregant has accused Whitehead of stealing $90,000 in retirement savings, and records reveal various outstanding court judgments against the pastor.
According to legal filings, Whitehead has defrauded several people out of money and once filed for bankruptcy. After being convicted of 17 counts (largely related to identity theft), he served five years at Sing Sing.