Kanye West—Yeezus incarnate, problematic fave, once and future canceled cultural icon—is on a mission to reignite a spiritual awakening in America, and to achieve it he’s collaborating with some of your favorite religious homophobes.
Welcome to Awaken 2020, the “first epic evangelical stadium event of the decade.” Which I guess means there will be more. Goodie. This Saturday, January 18, West will join prominent leaders in the faith-based community for a 10-hour-long prayer rally at the Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix, Ariz.
There, attendees will get the chance “to be part of the Jesus awakening that is shifting HISTORY. Open the door and enter into a new era, a new decade, of revival that is bringing a movement of signs and wonders, healing of the sick, and preaching of the gospel.”
Sure, this sounds like the makings of a cult, but… end of sentence. But to each his own. This is America, after all, and religious freedom is baked into the very founding of the country. For better and for worse. And under this administration, religion is often used as an excuse to discriminate against people, particularly the LGBTQ community.
Case in point: The leaders Kanye is aligning himself with include Guillermo Maldonado, who thinks God herself brought us Trump as a harbinger of the End Times (that tracks) and once claimed homosexuality could be the result of “a demonic attack while in the womb.”
There’s also Lou Engle, a “zealous opponent of abortion and LGBT rights,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and his BFF and partner in prayer rallying Ché Ahn, who once posited that LGBTQ equality “is not a civil rights issue” because the community never had “rights taken from them.”
And then there’s Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet and hair model from the 1985 Supercuts catalog, who argued—with, I suppose, some modicum of seriousness (which is the real scary part)—that homosexuality is the cause of any number of natural disasters, from birds dying to earthquakes and tsunamis.
Remember when Kanye West was, like, the least homophobic rapper? Like ever? Granted, low bar, but this son of a gun sat down (in 2005!) with MTV News to denounce homophobia in hip hop.
“Everybody in hip hop discriminates against gay people,” he said at the time. “Matter of fact, the exact opposite word of ’hip hop,’ I think, is ’gay.’ You play a record and if it’s wack, ’That’s gay, dog!’ And I wanna just come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, ’Yo, stop it fam.’”
Fast-forward 15 years, a MAGA hat, and—if we’re being honest—a couple of dud albums in the studio, and he’s sharing billing with some of the most prominent and harmful anti-gay bigots in the game. The evangelical game. You know that game, right? With its loose rules that only seem to apply when they’re convenient and never to the truly irreligious, like say, the President of these United States.
On the surface, yeah, ’Ye probably thinks he’s dong good by his faith and his fans, but who are we kidding here? People like these evangelical loonies have no moral compass, as shown by their unwavering support of Donald Trump, who couldn’t pick out a Bible on a Trump hotel nightstand.
These aren’t the kinds of people who practice the tenets of their faith to love and care about other people—they only care about themselves and enriching their own pockets. They spew intolerance and hatred, preach about damnation and hellfire, and look the other way when it comes to the true injustices of the world. And all the while they’re stacking up filthy—just… filthy—skeletons in their own closets.
So Kanye, good luck on saving the world, or whatever, but maybe you should first try to save yourself from the claws of these opportunistic bigots. And for future reference, anyone requiring a stadium for prayer is definitely a scam artist.