Christian rapper Lecrae sparked controversy and conversation earlier this year when he admitted he once believed he was “done with Christianity” — a stunning revelation for such a popular performer in the faith space.
“Once upon a time, I thought I was done with Christianity,” he tweeted in January. “But the reality was I was just done with the institutional, corporatized, gentrified, politicized, culturally exclusive version of it.”
The tweet received more than 13,000 “likes” and sparked plenty of chatter, as people pondered what Lecrae meant. Months later, the rapper, who recently signed on as an ambassador to Pray.com to create faith-sustaining content, shed more light on the tweet during a recent interview with CBN’s Faithwire.
Watch Lecrae discuss almost leaving Christianity, prayer, controversy, and more:
He Was Almost ‘Done’ With Christianity
Lecrae said understanding this particular issue required exploring his spiritual roots and early growth.
“I didn’t become a Christian until I was about 19 years old, so I wasn’t raised as a Christian and I found this faith that really radically shaped me,” Lecrae said. “And early on, a lot of my views were shaped by kind of one particular sliver of the Christian community and so … I began to wrestle with certain issues.”
The rapper said he initially assumed those around him had an “exclusive, kind of authoritative view on the faith.” At first, he lined up with these individuals’ views, but that dynamic eventually changed.
“I started to notice that we weren’t lining up and it really radically shaped me, especially as it pertained to issues of justice or issues of … caring for the poor, the marginalized,” he said. “I was taken aback by the differing views and it so shook me that I was like, ‘Well, if they’re wrong on this, are they wrong about everything?'”
Lecrae said that question sent him into a faith “spiral,” ushering in a period of profound questioning and pondering.
Once upon a time I thought I was done with Christianity.— Lecrae (@lecrae) January 18, 2022
But the reality was I was just done with the institutional, corporatized, gentrified, politicized, culturally exclusive version of it.
“There was just a period of time [that] was very, very dark,” he said. “Maybe about a year or so of just wrestling and kind of saying, ‘Is this even real?'”
At the same time, Lecrae was encountering increased criticism within the Christian community, igniting a dual struggle that manifested and elevated other pitfalls and road bumps.
“As I’m wrestling, I’m also experiencing a lot of slander from people within the Christian community,” he said. “Now, obviously I could have just logged off my phone and I would have never experienced the slander but didn’t know that at the time, but that that was not helpful for my processing of things and so it kind of pushed me away and just made me wrestle even more.”
The rapper said he had to come to a place where he was able to see through the chaos and understand he was improperly putting the responsibility on God for the pain people were causing him.
“One of the things I had to learn was that … these are broken people and I’m experiencing people hurt,” he said. “But I’m making it a God hurt … and so it took some growth and maturity on my end to even understand that.”
Rather than retracting from the Lord, he eventually overcame his doubts and leaned into God.
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The Rev. Warnock Controversy
Lecrae also discussed his controversial December 2020 performance at a “Get Out the Early Vote Rally & Concert” in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by then-Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Warnock, a reverend, is pro-choice, so Lecrae’s inclusion in the event — especially in light of the rapper’s pro-life positions — shocked critics. It led Charlie Kirk, founder of student group Turning Point USA, to proclaim Lecrae shouldn’t ever be allowed to perform in a church again.
“You have the Christian rapper, Lecrae, who comes out and campaigns for Raphael Warnock, the pro-abortion advocate,” Kirk said. “That’s the guy who we’re listening to on K-LOVE, who we’re supposed to look up to, who, in my personal opinion, should never be allowed to perform at another church after advocating for Raphael Warnock.”
I should note Lecrae was among performers at “get out the early vote” rally and concert with Warnock and Ossoff, in December.— Nicola (@namenzie) January 24, 2021
Lecrae encouraged attendees to vote. He didn’t tell them who to vote for.
So Kirk’s saying Lecrae “campaigned” for Warnock isn’t quite accurate.
Lecrae, though, told CBN’s Faithwire his appearance at the event wasn’t as clear-cut as many critics contended.
At the time, he had been helping the homeless in Atlanta and the city’s mayor reached out to ask if he wanted to perform at a rally encouraging people to vote early, to which Lecrae agreed.
“So, I thought, ‘Oh, well, wait a minute, who’s gonna be there?’ And they said, ‘Both candidates’ and I said, ‘OK, well, fine, I’ll show up, you know, because now it’s bipartisan and so I’ll perform,'” he said. “I got there and it wasn’t both candidates from both parties. It was both candidates from one party … and I didn’t know that, obviously, when I performed.”
Lecrae said he sang, encouraged people to vote, and “moved on.” But some critics went as far as to accuse him of not only performing but also hosting the event for Warnock, with outrage following.
“Me and Rev. Warnock have radically different views on tons of different things,” he said. “It wasn’t as if I was supporting abortion or anything along those lines.”
All this in mind, Lecrae is clearly no stranger to disagreement and, like many, he’s navigating the divides that have unfortunately separated believers.
“A lot of Christianity has become so politicized, right? People have not chosen the Kingdom, they’ve chosen an empire, right?” he said. “The Kingdom is not supposed to be divided by political empires but oftentimes that’s what ends up happening. … We allow empires to divide us instead of finding common ground and saying, ‘These are secondary or tertiary issues, as it pertains to the Kingdom.'”
Lecrae said he believes differing opinions are fine but that our handling of those perspectives is what can lead to bigger problems within the church.
“It’s OK to have differing views or opinions, but it’s not OK to not listen to one another,” he said, noting his penchant for taking time to hear others to see what one can learn about different perspectives. “I think that’s what’s important in these types of heated discussions.”
For the record you don’t have to be what evangelicalism/religious right says you have to be to love the Lord. I’m no the leftist or Marxist they fear me being & I’m not the right wing conservative they demand I be. I’m a Christ follower.— Lecrae (@lecrae) January 2, 2021
As for race — an issue Lecrae has been more vocal about in recent years — he has hopes Americans can come to a place of humility, kindness, and hearing one another out.
“I think the biggest … word for me is humility,” he said. “We have to walk in humility so that we can hear one another. We’re a body and a body has to function collectively so we actually need one another.”
Rather than talking past others, Lecrae stressed the essential act of listening to people’s hurts, pains, and experiences. And instead of denying that pain exists, he encouraged hearing to understand the “why.”
“We’ve got to be able to listen to one another,” he said. “And I think that’s a big part of the issue within the church, as it pertains to race.”
Lecrae continued, “There’s just got to be more wrestling if we understand that we’re a family and that we’re supposed to work collectively for the sake of the Kingdom.”
The rapper is working with Pray.com to try to help people better connect with their faith more broadly.
He will join fellow performers Chris Tomlin and Matthew West on May 5 for the “2022 National Day of Prayer Broadcast at 8 p.m. E.T., which you can watch here.
Lecrae is also creating inspirational prayer content you can view here.
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