Kanye Is Spreading the Gospel of Conspiracy Theories

The rapper visited Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church to share his thoughts on media "indoctrination" that lowers "kids' superpower and esteem."
20 November 2019, 4:58am
Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images; Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

After an appearance at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church service this weekend, Kanye West is trending high on r/conspiracy, Reddit's go-to place for lizard people believers, 9/11 truthers, and pizzagate theorists. In the conspiracy theory community with 1 million members, a post about West's wild new statements regarding media indoctrination has shot to the top of the page, having picked up over 3,000 upvotes by the time we published this story.

When he took the stage in front of the 16,000 followers at Osteen's Houston megachurch on Sunday, West's own ego-stroking was inevitable: "The greatest artist God has ever created is now working for him," West claimed, about... himself, of course. But the statements that followed were next level galaxy brain, even for West's standards; as far back as 2014, the rapper has been known to wax on about the Illuminati, despite opposing theories that suggest West is part of said shadowy celebrity power cult.

"'Closed on Sunday' is the hardest record ever made; it's as hard as an N.W.A. record, because it's talking about protecting your kids from the indoctrination of the media," West said, around the 9:00 mark of a YouTube upload of his Lakewood Church appearance, "the thousands and thousands of images that are fed to children by the age of six or seven." (The song he references includes lines like "When you got daughters, always keep 'em safe / Watch out for vipers, don't let them indoctrinate.")

"Within those images, there are images mixed in that we don't know about as parents—that are purposely mixed in to lower the kids' superpower and esteem so that they can be more susceptible to consumption and feel that they need to consume and become a part of the robotic, numeric system that controls so much of the media. I just had to say it, and you can rewind it, and then do research on what I'm talking about."

Given the audience of r/conspiracy, it's more sympathetic to West than other parts of the internet. On Twitter, the consensus seems to be that West has simply watched far too many conspiracy videos on YouTube. His religious journey is "the same 'voyage of discovery' that many of us have gone through," wrote a moderator of r/conspiracy and r/AlternativeHistory in one of the post's top comments.

But even in the conspiracy-friendly echo chamber of Reddit, people are poking holes in West's statements, pointing out his ties to "people who have blatantly used Illuminati symbolism" and his own, not-too-distant use of Illuminati-ish symbols in the music video for "Power." Others questioned the rapper's mental health status, a topic he's been open about since an involuntary psychiatric hold in 2016.

In any case, as West blurs the lines between rapper and preacher, his Sunday Services have been described as a new approach to spirituality. "It wouldn’t be the traditional, 3-hymns-and-a-sermon thing. Instead, it would be a way to point people to Jesus through the arts and through a community of people who love and care for each other," a source close to West told People in April. Judging by this sermon, that's still true, but we're not sure conspiracy theorists were the "community" Kanye—or Jesus, for that matter—really intended.