Over the weekend, Kanye West performed the songs on his new album “Jesus Is King,” which was set to release on Sunday. At one of his secretive performances, West announced that he would no longer make secular music, henceforth dedicating himself to Christian Gospel music. One of the songs on the new album celebrates Chick-fil-A. While his wife, Kim Kardashian West, claims Kanye West is born again, many Christians have expressed skepticism about his conversion, due to the artist’s pride and his secretive performances of the new album.
“Kanye also announced that he is no longer making secular music. Only Gospel from here on out,” Andrew Barber, creator of the hip-hop blog FakeShore Drive, announced on Twitter.
Kanye also announced that he is no longer making secular music. Only Gospel from here on out.
— Andrew Barber (@fakeshoredrive) September 29, 2019
West’s new album comes as the artist hosts “Sunday Service” performances which involve the worship of God, according to his wife.
“People always ask, ‘What are you worshiping?’ It is a Christian service, like a musical ministry. They talk about Jesus and God,” Kardashian West told The View earlier this month. She said her husband “started this to really heal himself,” but he later decided to share the “Sunday Services” with select groups of people. The performances center on songs of praise but also involve preaching from pastors, she said.
“He has had an amazing evolution of being born again and being saved by Christ,” Kardashian West said.
The new album includes a song celebrating Chick-fil-A, the national chicken fast-food joint known for the Christian faith of its founder, S. Truett Cathy. Current CEO Dan Cathy also made remarks attacking same-sex marriage, sparking a culture war battle in 2012. Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, WinShape, stopped its most controversial contributions to pro-family organizations, but activists have continued to demonize Chick-fil-A, leading San Antonio to ban the restaurant from its airport. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A was the fastest-growing restaurant in America last year.
“Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-fil-A,” Kanye West’s new song runs. “Hold the selfies, put the ‘Gram away/Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray/When you got daughters, always keep ’em safe/Watch out for vipers, don’t let them indoctrinate.”
“Train your sons, raise them in the faith/To temptations, make sure they’re wide-awake/Follow Jesus, listen and obey/No more livin’ for the culture, we nobody’s slave,” the song continues. “I bow down to the King up on the throne/My life is His, I’m no longer my own. … Jezebel don’t even stand a chance.”
The humble style evidenced in these lyrics seems rather uncharacteristic of Kanye West, but it is welcome from a Christian perspective. The reference to Jezebel — wife of Israel’s King Ahab and foe of the prophet Elijah, now a symbol for the temptations of the world — shows the rapper’s growing understanding of Christian culture.
Many Christians aren’t buying the story, however. Some have complained about West co-opting Christian culture. Self-identified Christian Charlene Kaleina told the New York Post that her faith is constantly mocked “because of the strange and weird behavior of people like this man. He may be trying to understand Jesus in his own limited way and we cannot judge another’s soul. People who follow Christ sense something is not right with this scene.”
“The way he talks about women in his other/recent albums, I’m skeptical he knows the gospel,” a divinity school graduate wrote on Twitter. “I am much more willing to believe Chance [The Rapper] is born again than Kanye.”
Of course, West may have repented from his previous statements. Yet some found the secretive nature of his “Sunday Service” meetings rather troubling.
“My major issue with Kanye’s Sunday Services is that they appear to be exclusive clubs for the rich and famous,” wrote Tobi Oredein, a columnist at the British Christian magazine Premier Christianity. “The average person can’t visit — instead, we’re kept at arm’s length merely watching on screens. A church — or any gathering led in Christ’s name — should be open to everyone.”
“He’s employing a choir of people who are not only singing his songs, but are all dressed in his apparel,” Oredein noted. “Is Christ really at the center of this gathering? I’m not sure he is.”
The “Jesus Is King” album was set to release on Friday, but was delayed until Sunday. As of Monday afternoon, the album still has yet to be released.
Kanye West surprised the world with his bro moment with President Donald Trump, saying the two share “dragon energy.” Kardashian West helped spearhead criminal justice reform, thanks in part to the relationship with Kanye.
As a Bible-believing Christian and fan of Chick-fil-A, I welcome Kanye West’s conversion and praise for the wrongly maligned fast food joint. I understand concerns that the rapper may be appropriating Christian culture to make a buck. After all, he shows off his celebrity wife who dresses very provocatively, not unlike Jezebel, to some degree. However, any time a rapper turns his music from sex and violence to Jesus, that’s a victory in my book.
It took a great deal of courage for Kanye West to praise Trump, and it arguably takes a similar amount of courage for him to publicly embrace Jesus and swear off the destructive culture. It remains to be seen just how genuine Kanye West’s conversion was, and if he truly believes in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will refine him further.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.