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"He is mocking Christianity": Conservatives upset over Lil Nas X's "J Christ" music video – Salon

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Rapper Lil Nas X often challenges the sanctity of biblical images in his colorful, widely campy music videos, and his latest video is no different.
The southern rapper, known as Montero Lamar Hill, broke through the mainstream with his country rap single "Old Town Road." The song spent 19 weeks on the Billboard 100 charts. Not long after his song became the longest-running No. 1 song since the chart itself debuted in 1958, the rapper came out as gay.
But Lil Nas really shook up the industry and conservative politics when he dropped his hit single "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)" in 2021. The music video featured the rapper in knee-high platform boots performing the ultimate pole dance – sliding into hell on the pole and giving the devil a lapdance. The video gave enough ammo to conservatives to pick the next target in their culture wars, accusing the rapper of being a devil worshipper and corrupting young listeners with his supposed promiscuity. This single was also the rapper's first venture into adding his queer identity into his music. He said in an interview with GQ that the music video for the song was “rebellious on many, many levels for me."
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Nearly three years after that, Lil Nas is back with another biblical-inspired song and video for what he is calling his "Christian era." It is already ruffling conservative feathers. Here is everything you need to know about the rapper's new single "J Christ": 
Before the "J Christ" music video dropped, the rapper was active on social media drumming up excitement. He posted clips of himself eating communion wafers like chips and drinking wine, offering up an all-expense paid trip to heaven and dressing like a Jesus Christ-looking figure on a cross before morphing Transformers-style into a robotic figure.
He also posted an acceptance letter from the Christian school, Liberty University on Instagram that said he was "about to go to college for biblical studies in the fall. Not everything is a troll!"
The letter read that he was accepted into the school for the Fall 2024 semester in a "Dual Concentration in Christian Leadership and Biblical Studies."
"Montero, the entire Liberty family congratulates you! Now is your time to train as a Champion for Christ," the letter said.
However, a university spokesperson said in a statement to Billboard “We can confirm that Liberty University did not issue the Montero Hill ‘acceptance letter’ posted yesterday to social media, and we have no record of Montero Hill applying to the university."
Of course the big tip-off that this was fake for anyone paying attention was that the letter was signed by Jerry Falwell, who is dead.
On Friday, the "J Christ" video finally dropped. It opens with a long line of people dressed in white, seemingly making their way onto the stairway to heaven. They mimic celebrities and public figures like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Kanye West and Barack Obama. As they enter heaven, we see Lil Nas as a white angel without wings. After a glimpse of a Michael Jackson-like figure and brief dip into hell, we're back in heaven with Lil Nas facing off against the devil in a game of basketball in a packed stadium. 
He sings as he slam dunks:
Is he up to somethin' only I-I know?
Is he 'bout to hit 'em with the high-igh note?
Is he 'bout to give 'em somethin' vi-iral?
In rapid succession we see Lil Nas as a cheerleader leading a group dance, then Lil Nas dressed as Jesus Christ on the cross, and then a shepherd shearing a lamb. All the while, the world is on the brink of destruction, and Lil Nas transforms into Noah who leads his animals to the ark that will save their lives. The video ends with Lil Nas leading the ark into clear waters.
A bible verse is Lil Nas' parting words on screen: 
"Therefore, if anyone is Christ/He is a new creation. The old has passed away; Behold the new has come." — 2 Corinthians 5:17
Upon the video's release, Christian rapper Bryson Gray denounced the images of Lil Nas dressed as Jesus and called on other Christians to also publically condemn him.
Gray told Fox News, "I think that he is mocking Christianity. He is mocking Christ. That's why he uses Christian imagery to do it."
He continued, "He's doing it with the goal to mock us because that's how he gets his clicks. I don't care if he gets the clicks about Christians reacting. I want to see more Christians reacting."
But Lil Nas took to the internet to address his critics. He said, "The crazy thing is nowhere in the picture is a mockery of Jesus. Jesus’s image is used throughout history in people’s art all over the world."
"I’m not making fun of s**t. Y'all just gotta stop trying to gatekeep a religion that was here before any of us were even born," he said.
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about Lil Nas X
 
Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Copyright © 2024 Salon.com, LLC. Reproduction of material from any Salon pages without written permission is strictly prohibited. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC. Associated Press articles: Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Written by: Christianity Today

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