I was born and raised in church. Some of my earliest memories are of me playing on the floor between the red church pews of my childhood church. I was in youth group my entire childhood and I sang in the choir. My mom even directed that choir for many years. I went on travel trips with my youth groups, led FCA meetings at my school…I was that church kid growing up and it was a major part of my identity at that time.
When I got to high school I stopped going to church with my family, and started going to a church that all of my friends went to. There were more classes and services tailored to a younger a crowd, and I just enjoyed it more. It was more fun at the time.
Although church was always a major part of my life, I was never good being religious. I didn’t like following rules, I didn’t understand a lot of the aspects of being a GOOD church goer, and I didn’t really agree with a lot of the teachings that were happening when I went to church services. As I continued to grow intellectually and become an adult, I learned that anything can, and historically has been, justified by the bible.
In all honesty, I’ve struggled with the idea of what it means to be a Christian in today’s society. In fact, I don’t use the term “Christian” to describe my faith at all anymore. If someone asks, I say that I am a follower of Christ. I try to live my life the way Jesus says to live, not the way religious leaders instruct me to based on skewed versions of the bible that have been written and rewritten hundreds of times and dozens of different languages. I try to Love others, Jesus’ first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22: 36-37) I follow the Golden Rule. (Matthew 7:12) I pray to God and ask for guidance, forgiveness and protection. (1 John 5: 14) I have faith and trust God (Mark 11: 22-24) And I try to forgive others as well (Luke 12:34)
I say all of this about my own spiritual journey to show that I am not some faithless heathen that doesn’t understand the power, love, and mercy of God. However I have to say: Kanye is playing Yall. And as my good friend Alexis J, host of the Lexxx Talk About It Podcast said, “he is a scammer. Period”
I take issue with a lot of the things Mr West has said recently since the roll out of his “Jesus is King” Album. He claimed in an interview with Big Boy that Democrats have “brainwashed” black people into voting for them and force them to “abort their children.” This isn’t a revolutionary idea. It’s not even remotely a new idea at all. It’s a republican talking point that black republicans CONTINUOUSLY taught on conservative media outlets. Its an asinine ideal that allows them to feel superior to others in the African American community. That’s really the only point of it. Black people vote for policies and people that come closest to representing their best interests. Within the past several decades, that has been the democratic party, at least on the surface. The political pundits and conservative commentators that are paid to taught this agenda. Kanye is just out of touch and no longer identifies or understands the struggle of the average black family in this country..and it clearly shows. All of the praise for Kanye’s “transformation” is less about Kanye’s ability to share the gospel and more indicative on his ability to promote the ideal that conservatism equals Christianity. It’s not biblical. It’s political...and it’s profitable. Kanye’s agenda isn’t much different that Donald Trump’s or other conservative politician throughout the country. He wants to perpetuate and further solidify the idea that Christian= Republican. It’s cultural warfare at the expense on one’s spirituality and faithfulness. It’s the idea that if you support more liberal ideas, you can’t serve God and follow the teachings of Christ.
His statements about Hip Hop are also very calculated and meant to sow the seed to culturally disassociate from faith from more liberal ideas and ways of life. Anyone who listens to Hip Hop knows that there are many different genres of it. There's Trap Music, Gangster Rap, NewSoul, Conscience Rap, Boom-bap, Melodic, and even Christian Rap. Unlike what Mr. West and many other in conservative media would like you to believe Hip Hop, much like African Americas, is not monolithic.
One of the greatest teachings of Christ is the act of humility. The process of knowing that all that you are, and everything that you will be is by the will of God, not your own volition. Kanye proudly pronounced that he is “the Greatest artist to ever live” on his tour. Is that humility or is that glorifying one’s self? Additionally, if you’ve seen any of his Sunday Services, you’ll notice that Kanye is elevated and in the center of the choir and all of the spectators, excuse me, congregation, is surrounding him. The service surrounds him. The service is about him and his ego and narcissism. His greatness. Essentially he’s using God to boost his profile and advance his own agenda, and like many others before him, is profiting from the faith, forgiveness, and needs of others. This isn’t new, it’s televangelism. The same thing that boomed in the 80’s and brought us cons like Jim and Tammy Faye Baker.
I am admittedly biased when it comes to televangelism and using faith to promote any agenda, specifically a political one. I believe it promotes the worst parts of religion; other-ism, fanaticism, and a distortion of God’s word. That’s what I believe Mr West is doing. He’s using, God and the soul of the black church, the choir, to make money and elevate himself as a potential politician. It’s deplorable but has proven throughout history to be thoroughly effective.
I believe god wants us to forgive, love, and accept others no matter what their background or way of life is. But he doesn’t want us to be deceived and he doesn’t want us to follow false prophets.