Megachurch Pastor Jamal Bryant didn’t mince words during a fiery sermon on Sunday in which he praised popular rapper Kanye West as a “gifted lyricist” but branded him a “sellout” for endorsing his “orange friend” President Donald Trump, who campaigned for the black vote in Atlanta Friday.
Bryant, who less than two months ago hosted an installment of West’s “Sunday Service” at his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia, argued that while West’s first faith-based album, Jesus Is King, has done much to attract increased interest in Christianity, he was troubled by the rapper’s political alliance with the president.
“I’m excited that the Google search for Christianity has gone up by 21 percent in the last three weeks because of the interest of Kanye West’s new record, Jesus Is King. I’m grateful that a whole new millennial generation is now proclaiming and professing 'Jesus is King.' I’m excited that those who have never come to church are now thinking that maybe this is a religion and a faith that I can practice. It is absolutely without any controversy or comparison that Kanye West is a gifted lyricist,” Bryant said in the prelude to his criticism in a Facebook Live broadcast of his sermon where he used the concept of a vinyl record to highlight his point.
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“The age of music that we’re in now, away from records, away from CD's, it’s almost now completely streaming. But those of us that grew up listening to vinyl records you know that there is a space in between the songs that is a silence but it is also a prelude of the song that is coming. And in between songs on a vinyl record it is called ghosting. It is called ghosting because it fades out the previous song and it introduces the next song. It is what happens in between the song that is so important,” Bryant said.
“My problem is in between the songs,” he said of West.
“It ain’t on the album. The album is hot, it is good. It’s in between the songs. I can’t rest. I can’t rest with Kanye saying slavery was an option. It’s in between the songs. He says that black people should vote Republican because that’s the group that kept us free. I can’t rest in between the songs when Kanye would endorse Donald Trump who has never done a thing for black people but says that this is the way that is going to give us resources,” Bryant continued in the wake of Trump’s visit.
(Commentary on West begins at around the 1 hour 10-minute mark.)
Last Friday, President Trump reached out to African-American voters in Atlanta, arguing that his economic and criminal justice policies had done more for them than decades of false promises by Democratic leaders who he said took them for granted, The New York Times reported.
At the launch of the new campaign called “Black Voices for Trump,” in which he addressed several hundred African-American supporters who signed up to help him win another term, Trump vowed to compete for support across racial lines in the 2020 presidential race.
“We’re going to campaign for every last African-American vote in 2020,” he told the crowd at the Georgia World Congress Center. “We’ve done more for African-Americans in three years than the broken Washington establishment has done in more than 30 years.”
He further noted that “the Democrat Party already left you a long time ago” and “If you don’t want liberal extremists to run your lives, then today we say welcome to the Republican Party.”
Bryant, however, appeared unhappy with the president’s outreach and tied it to West’s endorsement.
He also called out West for not calling out President Trump for his initial reluctance to helping people from the Bahamas displaced by Hurricane Dorian, saying they could include “some very bad people” including gang members and drug dealers.
Bryant’s church is among several that have led efforts to help the island after it was walloped by the category 5 hurricane in September.
“So in between coming to New Birth, he left out of New Birth, went to the Bahamas and when he went into the Bahamas, didn’t say anything to his orange friend about those who were struggling without housing, without resources, without access. In between, leaving New Birth, went to Salt Lake City and said to a crowd of 98 percent white people that he is proud of standing with Donald Trump and he’s not going to be bullied by anybody,” Bryant continued.
“Y’all ain’t gonna like it, but I’m gonna say even if no other preacher ... You don’t have a preacher that is gonna bow down or sell out. And I don’t care who don’t like it. I’m not like them. There is authority to what it is that we say. We’ve gotta move away from these handkerchief head sell out black preachers. Who are just glad to sit with people in authority and glad to be in a camera and selling out the community at the exact same time,” he said. “I need you to know you’ve got a no limit soldier standing in your pulpit. That if nobody else don’t stand on the word of God, if nobody else is gonna be uncompromising in their convictions, as for me and my house we shall serve the Lord.”
In his appearance at Bryant’s church, West, during his performance, said he is now following after God because the “devil had me chasing a gold statue.”
“To be radically in service to Christ is the only culture that I want to know about,” said West. “In the four walls, out of the four walls, in the school halls. Our father, Christ Jesus, thank you so much for bringing me to the home where I was born, where my mother met my daddy. Thank you for saving me, for replenishing me, for delivering me.”
In what is expected to be his biggest “Sunday Service” audience yet, rapper Kanye West will be joining megachurch pastor Joel Osteen at his Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday.