Kanye West, Christian Role Model?
The rapper is infamous for his big ego. He's trying to change that with his new faith.
Kanye West has been getting a lot of attention lately.
Then again, he’s never really been out of the news. According to Forbes, the 42-year-old rapper, producer, and entrepreneur was the highest-earning hip-hop star in 2019, raking in an estimated $150 million.
But these days it’s more than music that’s putting Kanye in the headlines. And that infamous ego of his? Well, it seems to be taking a backseat to a higher power. A self-professed born-again Christian, he’s making Jesus the center of his music and taking on topics that are typically career-enders for a black male in the entertainment industry.
West has openly criticized Democrats over their positions on issues such as abortion, welfare, government dependency, and fatherless homes, and — sin of sins — he’s questioned his fellow African-Americans over their blind loyalty to the Democrat Party. Now he’s spreading a spiritual message with his Sunday Services and popular songs such as “Jesus Walks.”
Regardless of whether one thinks West has had a profound Damascus Road moment in his life or is merely seeking more attention, the mere fact that he doesn’t toe the leftist line like other black entertainers gives him some street cred with us. Patriot Post partners Bill Whittle and Scott Ott, for example, wonder whether Kanye might be making Christ cool for kids again.
John Hinderaker writes at PowerLine, “I doubt that Kanye’s conversion will turn out to be of earthshaking importance, but it is one more instance of African-Americans breaking free from the liberal plantation. The long-term consequences of this growing independence movement will be enormous, and I think we will see some early signs of it in next year’s election.”
Apparently, celebrities can claim Christianity all they want without fearing rebuke from those in power, but taking on the Democrat Party is clearly a deal-breaker for those on the Left.
That’s why people like Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah took umbrage with West’s comments about Democrats “brainwashing” blacks. But what lies at the core of the Left’s criticism of Kanye over the years? Sure, he’s made some outrageous comments about a range of topics, but what person with his status and star power hasn’t?
For one, it’s hard to overestimate the power of Kanye’s appearance with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last year, after which support for the president among young black men increased significantly. Perhaps they, too, realized it was finally OK to support a Republican.
As the president put it, “What do you have to lose?”
Another reason for the Left’s panic is that Kanye has the power to reach millions of young people with political and spiritual messages that they’re not getting from the music industry. This effectively turns the tables against the very industry that’s indoctrinated impressionable minds for decades. And it provides listeners with an alternative message that many of them have never heard.
Earlier this month, Kanye’s appearance at his Sunday Service in Utah was underwhelming to the extent that he was such a small part of it. He briefly spoke about Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves and expressed his support for President Trump, but he only performed one song: Jesus Walks. The Deseret News wrote that despite some fans’ disappointment over Kanye’s limited participation in the service, “The message was clear — Kanye is praising Jesus, God and bringing religion wherever he goes. The new Kanye is not about Kanye. He’s about Jesus Christ, God, and observing your faith to make yourself happier.”
Kylee Zempel writes at The Federalist, “Pop culture icons tend to appeal to Christianity only insofar as it broadens their appeal to a Christian base. As soon as it seems not to benefit their wallets anymore, their faith doesn’t seem to be all that active.” Zempel adds, “These icons are Christians in name only. Not in understanding, not in message, and not in obedience.”
West’s move toward Christianity seems to set him apart from other performers who quickly abandoned their faith when they made it to the top.
Like Trump, Kanye doesn’t let criticism stop him for a second. As Charles Holmes writes in Rolling Stone, “The TMZ slavery tirade, the Make America Great Again shenanigans, the Bill Cosby defenses, the bipolar diagnosis announcement and retread, the reconciliated-and-then-reheated Drake beef, the endless tweets and rushed albums and albums that never came to be and albums we simply had to wait for — none of it mattered. The predictions were wrong.”
Critics claim that Kanye using God to build a tax-free empire and to further boost his image, but if West can expand his entertainment empire while reaching historically hopeless black youth with a positive, God-centered message, then it’s undoubtedly a good thing. And as Lutheran minister Hans Fiene puts it, “Instead of trying to keep him outside the feast of salvation until he’s proven himself worthy, rejoice to enter with him into the feast where all formerly unworthy sinners are invited to eat and drink the worthiness of Jesus Christ.”