Torrence’s Take On: Everyone Taking “Sides”Published by Torrence Glenn on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm.
Remember that song by the late choirmaster Pastor Timothy Wright that said “get up, if you’re on the Lord’s side?” So maybe it’s just me but has anyone noticed a “shift” in how many of our mainstream entertainers express their spirituality recently? What do I mean? Glad you asked. If you’re reading this blog you’re most likely a gospel music fan, perhaps a Christian, and probably know me as a pundit, commentator, or aficionado of all of things church and gospel because that’s the focus of this blog. But what you may or may not know is that although that side of my career provides the context and content of this blog, my position at BET and in the entertainment industry covers more than just gospel music programming and I’m able to get a balanced side of the business because I spend equal amounts of time on the sets of 106 & Park as I do Sunday Best. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had some rather interesting conversations on the state of spirituality in our industry overall because folks besides myself have noticed that things have changed a bit.
Think about it, for a long time it was pretty cool to say you “Believed in God” or “the creator,” or a “higher power,” etc. Everybody had some faith based, God acknowledging spiritual compass that they operated from but for a while it was very “non specific.” This ambiguity wasn’t lost on many of us Christians. If I had 10,000 hands and 100,000 fingers I still wouldn’t have enough to count the times I’ve heard people question Oprah Winfrey’s specific faith and salvation. Questions literally ranged from “Is Oprah the Anti-Christ?” to “I don’t know if I can get with her until I hear her stand for Jesus.” Although I wasn’t one of those people, I could understand and acknowledge their point in that she definitely had a way with words to promote Christian principles without screaming to the top of her lungs that she was a Christian. However, I always though it was clear but for many, that wasn’t enough…until recently. During Oprah Winfrey’s show finale episode in May, she said the words that so many zealous Christians were waiting for. She said, “People often ask me, What is the secret of success of the show? How have we lasted 25 years? I nonjokingly say, ‘My team and Jesus.’ Because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me. …”
For many, this was indeed the “aha” moment they’d prayed for. Oprah said JESUS! But what I’ve noticed is that these moments have occurred quite a few times in the last couple of months. BET reality star and choreographer Laurie Anne Gibson has been extremely vocal about her faith on her TV show and social media platforms. She acknowledges Paula White as her Pastor and adviser who is undoubtedly Christian. Then you had radio personality and comedian Steve Harvey crying on TBN’s Praise The Lord show as a guest on such a regular basis that he’s even become a consistent host and “speaker” on the expansive Christian network. Actor/Singer and sometimes twitter fortune cookie-esque motivational speaker Tyrese has even drawn his line in the proverbial Christian sand. He’s appeared on TBN with Steve Harvey along with making it his business to try and push the career/music of worship leader Leon Timbo. Then there was Justin Bieber’s acceptance speech on this year’s MTV Video Music Awards where instead of simply thanking God he told the live and television audiences “and by God I mean Jesus.” And of course we can’t forget about Chad Ochocinco and his love for gospel music (and Beverly Crawford), to the point that that he begged his twitter followers to vote for Amber Bullock in Sunday Best 4. Then there was the recent news of “gangster rapper” The Game getting saved and baptised recently at the City Of Refuge Church, etc. etc.
I could go on and on, but it seems like there’s been a definite and deliberate attempt by many celebrities to make clear what side of the religious and spiritual fence they’re living on. (That analogy was way corny but i’m sure you’re used to that with me! Ha!) What do you think has caused this sudden (or maybe not so sudden) change of heart and conviction? I think it could be a variety of things. From the illuminati conspiracy theories that many successful artists are TIRED of being associated with to the growth and popularity of artists like Tyler The Creator and the Odd Future camp who in my opinion are fully on the other side of the spectrum and have taken an almost “anti-God” approach and flaunt it. (Yes, they have that right but I still don’t think it’s right. And no I’m not being “judgmental.”) Maybe there was some big exclusive Bible study for only celebrity attendees where the topic was Revelation 3:16 or something… I’m just kidding but honestly, there’s definitely been a change. Either way it’s a good a thing. Don’t you think? Is it just me?