On a quiet October afternoon, Kanye West slunk into a choir rehearsal at Iglesia de Jesucristo Monte de Santidad, a church in Northridge. Clutching a microphone tightly to his face, he softly sung the words to the Christ for the Nations’ song “When I Think About the Lord,” riffing on harmonies before breaking out in hallelujahs as the song reached its chorus.
His reserved demeanor, captured on video, as he bowed his head in the middle of a prayer circle, stood in stark contrast to his offensive remarks that have sucked up much of the attention in recent weeks. Since debuting his “White Lives Matter” shirt during Paris Fashion Week in early October, West has incensed a number of different communities. He’s victimized himself as a Black man being oppressed by clothing conglomerates while simultaneously claiming George Floyd died from fentanyl rather than former police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for nine minutes. (He later called the mother of Floyd’s daughter “greedy” for suing him.)
Beyond this, he’s repeatedly made antisemitic claims, while accusing Jewish people of conspiring to suppress and sedate him as part of a larger plot to “control” Black people across America.
The outbursts quickly sacked much of his portfolio and influence. Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga have cut ties; members of his team and teachers at his Donda Academy school have resigned in protest; and he’s repeatedly been banned from Instagram and Twitter.
His activity also stands in contrast from his previous efforts to put God at the forefront. For the past several years, West’s Sunday Service choir had put a renewed spotlight on gospel music, empowering young people in the church as he sought to make Christianity “cool.”
For many who drew strength from his God-focused music, the past month stings particularly hard.
“One group really thinks [“Jesus Is King”] was just a one-off album and he was just being creative, so they don’t really attach Christianity to Kanye,” said Pastor Michael J.T. Fisher of Greater Zion Family Church in Compton. “Then there is a group that really took his album and the things he said in that season, as him turning over a new leaf and he’d found this new relationship with God. I think they’re very disappointed with the direction he seems to be heading in.”
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