Kanye’s running for president — and his platform has a lot of God in it

Kanye’s running for president — and his platform has a lot of God in it



Kanye West answers questions from pastor Joel Osteen during a service at Lakewood Church, in Houston, on Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Kanye West is running for president, and he believes God told him to do it.

That’s according to a recent interview West conducted with Forbes magazine, in which he discussed his newly announced bid to win the White House as an independent candidate.

It may be the first time the multiple Grammy-winning rapper has run for office, but it’s hardly his first foray into presidential politics. West made headlines in 2005 when he criticized then-President George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina by declaring that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” a moment Bush himself later categorized as a low point of his presidency. Although West performed at one of President Barack Obama’s inaugural balls, Obama was caught on a hot mic criticizing the performer and calling him a “jackass,” sparking low-grade tensions between the two. And more recently, West has garnered widespread attention for his persistent support of President Donald Trump.

West is also no stranger to matters of faith: In addition to releasing the religion-themed album “Jesus Is King” in October 2019, West staged several “Sunday Services” throughout the country last year that featured gospel hymns alongside rap music.

“I love Jesus Christ. I love Christianity,” West said last year.

But in his interview with Forbes, West — who said that he has never voted before, and has yet to take any formal steps to get his name on ballots come November — hinted that his fledgling presidential run may be his most overt fusion of faith and politics yet, with religion impacting everything from his decision to run to his views on vaccines.

Like many candidates before him, West believes God played a role in his decision to run for president.

Asked about his presidential run, West told Forbes that “God just gave me the clarity and said it’s time.”

Such a claim is not unusual among presidential candidates. In 2012, Republican presidential hopefuls Michele BachmannHerman Cain and Rick Perry all reportedly suggested God called on them to seek the highest office in the land.

West also said he believes God “appoints” the president, a view shared by many conservative Christian supporters of Trump, such as Paula White, the special adviser to the White House’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative at the Office of Public Liaison.

“Let’s see if the appointing is at 2020 or if it’s 2024 — because God appoints the president,” West told Forbes. “If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment. If I win in 2024 then that was God’s appointment.”

Kanye West speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with President Donald Trump, in Washington, Oct. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

West no longer supports Trump but said he approves of the president’s interactions with religion and is calling for “God in all schools.”

West has been a public supporter of Trump but told Forbes he no longer backs the president, saying, “It looks like one big mess to me.” West also called on both Trump and his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, to “bow out,” saying, “It’s God’s country, we are doing everything in service to God, nobody but God no more. I am in service of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, and I put everything I get on the line to serve God.”

However, West did praise Trump’s faith affiliations when explaining why he supported the president in the first place: “Trump is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation.”

West also reflected a view regarding prayer in schools that is popular among conservative Christians, insisting God be brought back into classrooms.

“Reinstate in God’s state, in God’s country, the fear and love of God in all schools and organizations and you chill the fear and love of everything else. So that was a plan by the Devil — to have our kids committing suicide at an all-time high by removing God, to have murders in Chicago at an all-time high because the human beings working for the Devil removed God and prayer from the schools. That means more drugs, more murders, more suicide.”

His running mate is a “biblical life coach.”

West’s running mate is reportedly Michelle Tidball, who describes herself as a “biblical life coach.” She lives in Cody, Wyoming — near where West owns a ranch — and runs Abundant Ministries, which features an online Bible study program. On her website’s biography page, she declares “I pursue God! … Being raised in the church I loved God, encountered Him, but wanted to know more.”

West believes prayer is needed to solve the coronavirus crisis, but he says vaccines may be connected to “the mark of the beast.”

When asked about a coronavirus cure during the Forbes interview, West responded by saying: “We pray. We pray for the freedom. It’s all about God. We need to stop doing things that make God mad.”

Regarding vaccines, West said he is “extremely cautious” about inoculations to protect against the novel coronavirus. He seemed to connect vaccines to “the mark of the beast,” a reference to one of two beasts in the biblical book of Revelation that many Christians believe are associated with the end times. He then referenced what appeared to be a debunked conspiracy theory that Bill Gates and others want to put microchips in people to track their movements.

West went on to suggest that such efforts could bar people from ascending to heaven.

“They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven,” West said. “I’m sorry when I say they, the humans that have the Devil inside them. And the sad thing is that, the saddest thing is that we all won’t make it to heaven, that there’ll be some of us that do not make it. Next question.”

Kanye West performs with Kid Cudi at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 20, 2019, in Indio, California. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

West says his faith informs his opposition to abortion and the death penalty.

When it comes to abortion rights and capital punishment, West takes a stance that would put him at odds with both major parties — but perfectly in line with his faith, he said.

On abortion, West says he is “pro-life because I’m following the word of the Bible.” It’s a common belief: While not universal, faith-based opposition to abortion is widespread, especially among conservative Christians who attend events such as the massive March for Life gathering that occurs in Washington, D.C., every year.

West also cited his faith when discussing capital punishment, saying: “Thou shalt not kill. I’m against the death penalty.”

That puts him in line with rising opposition to the death penalty, especially among Democrats. However, according to a 2019 Gallup poll, a majority of Republicans still support the death penalty. More than half (58%) opted for the death penalty rather than life in prison (38%), whereas Democrats overwhelmingly backed life sentences (79%) instead of the death penalty (19%).

West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, has repeatedly advocated on behalf of death row inmates, and she celebrated California’s decision to end the use of the death penalty in 2019. Kanye West has also put on religiously themed performances at jailhouses that were described as “part rap concert, part revival meeting.”

In addition, the sentiment echoes one of West’s most recent tracks — the faith-themed “Wash Us in the Blood,” released in late June. The song features an interlude from fellow rapper Travis Scott in which he declares “Execution, thirty states / Thirty states still execute / Thou shall not kill, I shall not spill, Nextels at the rendezvous.”

As for tax policies, West told Forbes he needed to do more research on the subject, but would speak with “the strongest experts that serve God and come back with the best solution.”

West suggested prayer and piety can help heal racial divisions.

When asked about racism and the recent demonstrations in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, West reportedly broke into rhyme, saying, “Well, God has already started the healing/This conversation alone is healing and revealing/We all need to start praying and kneeling … ”

He added: “When a rhyme comes together I’m going to complete it, not inside the lines created by organizations that we know as our reality.”

Musician Kanye West headlined a “Sunday Service” performance on a specially made hilltop stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, in Indio, California. Video screenshot

Are you embracing the 4 C’s of financial literacy?

Are you embracing the 4 C’s of financial literacy?

Video Courtesy of NABE Webinars

A lot of people have heard of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”. I was thinking the other day, the reason why people have a sense of belonging for a community or a city or an estate is because of the people who live there. The experiences and support they bring to that environment promotes a positive culture that draws everyone who lives there to feel as though they belong. They become protective and nurturing of their “village”.

That is the same way we should think about our finances. You do not get to financial stability and freedom by guesswork, feelings or emotions. It is an act of intentional commitment, discipline, education and accountability and it will involve you, and those you are willing to listen to.

I am a firm believer that money is a magnifying tool that reveals the intent and the character of your soul. Who you really are will always be revealed in the abundance of money or lack of it in your life. I have been around people who seemed humble and kind when they did not have money, until they reached a place of financial prosperity. All of a sudden, a sense of being rude and dismissive becomes appealing as though it is supposed to be fashionable. Pride becomes a regular smoothie partaken to make sure that you prove to everyone you made it.

On the other hand, having a lack of money can bring out the insecurities, fear, withdrawal and lack of confidence of embracing true purpose. I have also seen people sabotage great relationships, their integrity and character, because the struggle of not having enough turned them to desperation. They ended up doing things they wished they had not, or going back into situations they should not have, to get back to that place of financial comfort.

The reality is, having financial stability is a great feeling. Waking up each day with the amazing peace that you can pay every bill or anything you owe and have so much left over is a wonderful blessing to experience. However, the biggest mistake we make including myself is, camping in that place of wishing that could happen if we are not yet walking in that reality.

To embark on a journey to success regarding your finances, it has to begin with your outlook. What do you think of yourself regarding money? Proverbs 23:7 KJV states “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Your outward behavior and reaction including your relationship with money is a direct reflection of how you think about yourself.

To create an outlook that will push you and motivate you to a healthy relationship with your finances, including being vulnerable and honest with yourself, as to why you push yourself each day to financial success, practice the “4 C’s to a positive outlook on money” as given to me by Holy Spirit”:

1. Courage

Be willing to face yourself and examine the true motives of your heart. How do you view money? Is it dreadful? Are you stressed out every time its payday or do you have a heart of gratitude for Gods provision? Are you courageous to admit that a lack of money has created a void that you need God to fill? Are you willing to admit that you have used money to attain a status that will make people like you? You have to be courageous to face yourself on your outlook of money.

2. Commitment

You have to commit to change. Denial is not a choice. It is an invisible wall that you create in the circumference of your mind to convince you to cope with the assumption that everything is okay when it is not. Commit to have a positive outlook regarding money. This will give you a fresh perspective of the root cause of your behavior and relationship to money. If money is a tool that motivates you to live a purposeful life, it will be revealed and you will be encouraged to continue working hard. If it is not, you can pause and find out why and adjust your outlook to route you in the right path.

3. Confidence

Confidence is very connected with faith. God always tells you to believe the opposite of what you feel or see. Sometimes at your worst, when you are experiencing lack, God encourages you that “He is your Shepherd and you shall not want” Psalms 23: 1.

As a child of faith, you have to remember that God orchestrates each of our steps and as we live yielded to Him, He will guide us to wisdom, knowledge, education that will equip us to great stewardship. However, we have to first be confident in Him. I am learning that daily, God never gets tired of empowering us with confidence. Seek Him, ask Him, He is right there, and He is willing to release to you the measure of confidence you need to handle the financial obligations at hand.

4. Consistency

Consistency is what icing is to a cake, what syrup is to a pancake, what salt is to soup. Have you ever had soup with no salt? There is no taste to it. But you add a bit of salt and the flavors seem to be awakened as you drink it. It is the secret ingredient that so many of us miss. We start, but don’t finish. We set the budget, but don’t follow it. We open the savings account, but never deposit any money in it. I look at consistency as pacing yourself to savor the sweetness of life.

I love drinking tea. I specifically enjoy a nice cup of Kenyan brewed tea. It takes a special skill to brew a really good cup of Kenyan tea. To add up the flavors and make sure the taste of it is not bitter. The key is time. I consider myself a “master” at making tea especially for a large group of people but, it took me years and years of making tea everyday to learn. I could make tea in my sleep. Was it exciting? No! In fact, sometimes I dreaded it. But, when I see people close their eyes and smell the tea as they drink it with a smile and savor the taste, it brings me great joy!

It is the same way with consistency. You are not going to have butterflies and feel a sense of excitement truth be told you may get bored, not want to do it, dread it, but that is when you should do it. Be consistent in your commitment to be courageously confident about your outlook on money and watch how open you will be to learning how to be a wise steward of what God has blessed you with.


‘Greenleaf’ star Deborah Joy Winans says her TV family reflects real life

‘Greenleaf’ star Deborah Joy Winans says her TV family reflects real life

Deborah Joy Winans portrays Charity Greenleaf in the OWN series “Greenleaf.” Photo courtesy of OWN

Deborah Joy Winans, the real-life member of a famous musical church family, has spent the past few years living with another faithful bunch that, despite being fictional and more melodramatic, shares something with her own: Mistakes are made, but they just keep coming back to God.

On “Greenleaf,” the original series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, now in its fifth and final season, Winans portrays Charity Greenleaf, the youngest daughter of a family that runs a Black megachurch in Memphis, Tennessee.

Winans’ character has miscarried one of a set of twins, has coped with a husband who is questioning his sexuality and has striven to gain what she views as her rightful place in her family and in her church. As the final season starts, Charity is helping a global church conglomerate take over her family’s Calvary Fellowship World Ministries.

Winans, a 30-something Detroit native who describes herself as a nondenominational Christian, talked with Religion News Service about the show that moved her from stage to screen and about the real-life events the country has faced since production for the show wrapped.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Your character, Charity Greenleaf, is greeted by her mother in this season’s first episode as “Little Miss Benedictine Arnold, traitor to a whole family.” How does it feel to play the outcast?

It feels terrible. But I love the fact that Charity takes it and keeps going. She recognizes the mistake that she’s made, the betrayal she has been a part of, the hurt that she’s created, and she keeps steppin’. She’s not happy about it, but she realizes she has to keep going to make it better.

Charity is part of a fictional Black church dynasty. And you are part of the real-life Winans gospel music family. How would you compare the two, if you can at all?

I’m thankful that I don’t have to compare them in many ways. But with my family, the Winans family, and the Greenleaf family, what I do know is that they’re all human. They all have failed. They all have made mistakes, but they all always go back to their foundation. They go back to the Word of God and they revisit their faith and the next steps to make in order to really stay aligned with the faith, as opposed to the wrong of what they’ve done.

You are the niece of the gospel singers BeBe and CeCe Winans and the daughter of Carvin Winans of the gospel group the Winans. Have you ever been interested in singing?

Singing has never been an interest — not even half an interest. I’ve loved acting since I was a little girl. And so I got my BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in acting. I spent a month studying at the Moscow Art Theatre School in Russia and then I went on to get my MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in acting from California Institute of the Arts. Acting has always been my main passion, my drive, my desire. Music has simply been an additive in these later years, as far as the jobs that I’ve been blessed to have.

Oprah Winfrey sought you out for the role of Charity. How did you connect with her?

I was doing a workshop of my uncle’s musical, “Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story,” in New York in 2015 and Oprah, along with Gayle (King) and Cicely Tyson, came to a reading. Two months later, she called and said that she could not get me out of her mind for this particular role. Unfortunately, nobody (at the network) knew who I was. I said, “Well, yeah, I haven’t done anything yet.” And she said, “That’s OK. I think that they’ll see what I see when it’s time for you to audition. I’m going to open the door for you as wide as I possibly can and when you go, you do what you Winans do.” And I was like, “Yes, ma’am.”

Actors Ketih David, left, and Deborah Joy Winans in the OWN series “Greenleaf.” Photo courtesy of OWN

Has there been pushback from Black church members about the show, given that the Greenleafs deal with murder, abuse and affairs?

I do think that there has been some pushback because there’s so much drama and it’s so juicy. But that’s what you want in a dramatic TV show. That’s what keeps viewers coming back week to week. But I think they recognize that this is not based on someone’s church or some specific pastor or some specific deacon. This is just a world that was created to honor the cornerstone that the church is in our Black community, (while it) allows people to possibly start conversations that maybe previously were just sort of swept under the rug.

Charity did everything she could to become an associate pastor. Do you think her struggle to be a preacher reflects real life for women in some churches, including Black churches?

Oh, absolutely. In the Black community and particularly in the Black church community, for years, women were not seen as equal. Charity fights to do the right thing in the eyes of her parents, to be the perfect child, to listen to herself and really go after this calling that she has felt on her as a little girl. But her family says, “Oh yeah, OK. Maybe. Soon. But just keep singing.” And they don’t agree or see the vision that she feels like God has given her for her own life. And that happens a lot in the church.

If you could talk to Charity, the character you play, what would you tell her?

Oooh, girl! You need to love you. I would tell Charity that she’s been searching for the approval of her family for who she is, for what she wants, for where she believes she’s supposed to be. And because she’s been searching for their approval, she has left the one and only approval that she needs, which is God’s. I would just tell her to look at herself through the lens of Christ, through the lens of love. When you recognize who you are in God and your value and your worth, you don’t need anybody else’s approval.

Deborah Joy Winans portrays Charity Greenleaf in the OWN series “Greenleaf.” Photo courtesy of OWN

Has COVID-19 affected you and your real-life family?

My Uncle Marvin, my dad’s twin brother, came down with COVID-19 and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. It didn’t look very good at all. But what was beautiful about that is that we came together as a family via Zoom and started having these family meetings every week, catching up with everybody, praying for those that have been affected, those that are hurting. And, thankfully, my uncle is doing very well.

With the country dealing with a pandemic, the George Floyd protests and an economic downturn, how does a show like “Greenleaf” fit into people’s lives right now?

I think that “Greenleaf” does offer a chance for people to let go. But it’s still honoring a Black family. It’s seeing yourself represented, and I think that we need that.

I do think this pandemic of COVID-19 has really brought us together as a world, as a human family. Because everybody was stuck at home, having to figure out how to manage, everybody also had to see this global pandemic of racism. They didn’t get to turn a blind eye to it. I tell people, if you have breath in your body you are able to help make a change in this country. Find your voice, find your way to serve. There is something that you can do to further this fight for justice in our world.