Kanye West makes Christianity great again with Jesus Is King
What does it say when an artist whose well-documented career of controversy, publically turns to Christianity?
International superstar Kanye West released his ninth studio album Jesus Is King Friday, in one of the more interesting career moves the always provocative artist has made since coming out as a Trump supporter last year.
Prisoners often find themselves mixed up in ideological warfare that has nothing to do with their rehabilitation, and everything to do with opposing cultural forces. Such is the case with born-again Christian pop star Kanye West’s recent visit to the Harris County Jail in Texas. West brought his musical worship service to prisoners, leading with light and God’s love, to the people who need it most. For that, the local Sheriff Ed Gonzales, West, and the prisoners were admonished by anti-faith group The Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Sheriff Gonzalez and the prisoners at Harris County Jail had a different take.
While The Freedom from Religion Foundation primarily files lawsuits and does not go into prisons to help prisoners in their journey toward atonement, forgiveness, and reentering society, they took issue with West’s work to actually help people. This is some of the most elitist, entitled, patronizing displays of legal bludgeoning since The Freedom from Religion Foundation took issue with the federal funding of a mentorship program for the children of prisoners.
West made the appearance at the Harris County Jail for a worship service prior to attending televangelist Joel Osteen’s ministry, and repeatedly told the crowd of men in orange jumpsuits that “This is a mission, not a show.” It was that mission that got him in trouble with the atheists, who must think there is some better way to salvation and healing than seeking forgiveness and absolution from a higher power. Perhaps they have a plan to go into prisons and give a concert about how a secular life of consumerist materialism will lead to healing. But probably they don’t.
Despite the downturn in religious practice in the United States, faith in God is still often a way for people to discover a healthy path toward healing and becoming their best selves. While the argument against the intrusion of church into state affairs is judicially established, the emergence of atheism as a religious force should now be subject to those same considerations. Organized atheism is very similar to organized religion, except adherents rally around the absence of God instead of his existence.
Atheism is not neutral, it is, in fact, its own growing belief system. It is just as intrusive to bar religious practice in favour of anti-religious practice, because both are belief systems. If prisoners would rather not be party to either kind of faith practice, or worship service, or nothing service, they don’t have to be. What The Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn’t want to admit to is that putting trust in a higher power in order to become a better person more aligned with the values of kindness, love, and forgiveness, works.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation has that much beef with God and faith that they deny a person’s betterment by demanding that only non faith-based intellectual and emotional tools be sanctioned. Their argument is that classic separation of church and state squabble that keeps prayers out of schools, the mention of God off of memorials to fallen soldiers, and money flowing away from programs that actually help people instead of keeping their feet nailed to the same detrimental path that brought them to prison in the first place.
The argument made against West’s mission was that the prisoners are “literally a captive audience—who have a deep and immediate interest in being seen favourably by the jail staff.” The Freedom from Religion Foundation thinks so little of prisoners’ ability to think for themselves that they would rather deny those who want to participate in religious service than believe that those who don’t want to attend will feel coerced to do so.
Perhaps up next will be the legal removal of every kind of religious services from prisons, chaplains from the armed forces, and crosses atop churches from being visible. If these atheists really cared about the welfare of those men and women suffering in our overcrowded prison systems, they would use their legal funds to bring programs to those incarcerated souls who need uplifting, who need to hear a message that life has meaning and that caring and love are truly possible. Using the court system to belittle and demean those who have already been subjected to the inequities of that system is certainly unreasonably cruel.
Musician and fashion designer Kanye West spoke to the crowd at pastor and televangelist Joel Olsteen’s megachurch in Houston, and did not mince words when talking about the evils of Hollywood.
“You start to feel like Satan is the most powerful and you start to feel that if you serve God in life it means you will not prosper and the only way to prosper is in service to fame,” said Kanye to the church, which has a regular weekly attendance of over 50,000.
He went on to say, “the devil stole all the good producers, the devil stole all the good musicians, all the good artists, all the good designers, all the good business people and said you’ve got to come over and work for me.”
This isn’t the first time West has tried to wake up the masses regarding the perceived evils of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. West recently rapped that the city of angels was “run by satan.” He continued:
“Jesus has won the victory because now the greatest artist that God has ever created is working for him… All of that arrogance and confidence and cockiness y’all seen me use before, God is now using for Him.”.
The music icon, who recently announced his ninth studio album Jesus is King, went on to preach to parents about the importance of protecting them from indoctrination, and from participating in harmful behaviour. “We have our own daughters and we’re still rapping about trying to hook up with somebody’s daughter… Protecting your kids from the indoctrination of the media, the thousands of thousands of images that are fed to children by the age of 6 or 7.”
West went on to say that these images were “purposely mixed in to lower the kid’s superpower and esteem so that they can be more susceptible to consumption and feel that they need to consume and become a part of the robotic numeric system that controls so much.”
This is the latest in a string of appearances in which West expresses viewpoints from his spiritual breakthrough. Recent interviews with the hip-hop-turned-gospel artist show that West in a light that many may not have expected.
In an interview with BigBoyTV, for example, West speaks about how he has turned his back on the culture which he participated in for so long.
“I have turned my back on the idea of victimization mentality… We’re always pointing at white people, yet we want to spend all of our money on foreign [cars], and luxury, as opposed to going and buying some land. America is for sale, and there’s a lot of barren land,” said the rapper.
“We brainwashed out here, bro. This is a free man talking. Democrats had us voting Democrats for food stamps for years, bro… Guns in the 80s, taking the fathers out the home, Plan B, lowering our votes, making us abort our children. Thou shalt not kill!”
In a separate interview, West went on to explain the importance of having the church as the centre of communities.
“What is the best form of each other? Family. To keep family close. Cities have been designed to create more problems that create more industries… To think of communities where the church is in the centre, then the schools, sustainable gardening, and homes.”
With West’s recent return to public displays of Christianity, this surely will not be the last time we hear the rapper preaching.