The leader of a Missionary Baptist assembly in California is defending the use of a profane secular rap song during a recent Sunday service, saying that he believes the men of the Scriptures likely used edgy language and that he curses in prayer sometimes himself.
Several youth performed a dance to Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” on July 30 before the congregation of Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church as a lead-in to a sermon delivered by Marcus Murchinson. He had reportedly advised the congregation weeks in advance that his message would be “out of the box” and also provided a disclaimer prior to the interpretive dance.
The song, which repeatedly uses the “n” word in reference to African Americans, also is blotted with expletives.
“Financial freedom my only hope/[Expletive] livin’ rich and dyin’ broke/I bought some artwork for one million/Two years later, that [expletive] worth two million/Few years later, that [expletive] worth eight million/I can’t wait to give this [expletive] to my children,” the lyrics read in part.
The video of the performance, which was alongside a Tasha Cobbs rendition of “Break Every Chain,” was posted online by church drummer Ben Thompson, who was reportedly fired after doing so. Thompson has noted that he did not have any negative intent in posting the video, but wanted to obtain feedback from family and friends.
The post has generated over 24,000 shares as of press time and has generated mixed reactions.
“If I’m in church and they start playing Jay-Z, I’m going outside to grab my weed and coming back in and rolling/firing it up,” one commenter wrote.
“I understand the concept of it. The Jay-Z song is representing the world, and how we need the spiritual soldiers to fight the evils of the world. But it should of been done differently,” another opined. “That was completely out of line. Who is the overseer of the dance ministry? Smh. There had to be a grownup to approve of it.”
“I’m speechless. All I know is God is not pleased,” a third stated. “He is coming back for a Church without a spot or a wrinkle. We better get our houses in order before He cracks the sky. I probably would have walked out; [I] don’t need that mess in my spirit woman. A sin and a shame!”
Christian Post contacted Murchinson about the performance, and he told the outlet that he didn’t see anything wrong with using the song, adding that most in the congregation are familiar with such language anyway.
“The one thing that’s apparent about language is that there’s a difference between cursing or using derogatory language and using colloquial language. What Jay-Z was using in this particular presentation was not inflammatory or derogatory. He was making a point to just communicate in a colloquial dialect that people understand,” he said. “Ain’t a word in that song that I don’t know myself, that my congregation doesn’t know and or have used. So why do we come into God’s house and act like we don’t know it?”
Murchinson further advised that sometimes he uses profanity himself when praying privately.
“The truth is sometimes when I’m praying, my prayers are not ‘Guide me O Thy great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.’ I’m not quoting from the 23rd Psalm. I’m not quoting from Philippians. Sometimes my prayers have explicit language in them. God I am bleep, bleep, bleep upset. And because of that, I learned that God can handle that,” he asserted.
Murchinson said that he used the song after talking with people in the community about why they don’t attend church and learning that some residents think churches are out for money. When asked who they look up to as role models, Jay-Z and his song ‘The Story of O.J.” were among those mentioned as being relevant to the struggles some face.
He defended playing the song in church by asserting that the men of the Scriptures likewise also used coarse language when in difficult situations.
“Do you think that every individual in the Bible that countered troubles, trials or tempests, did not have some form of what we could call cursing or language that could be inflammatory? Jonah sitting in the belly of the whale … you can’t tell me in that one moment Jonah did not sink with inflammatory language,” Murchinson contended. “You can’t tell me that the three Hebrew boys tossed in the fiery furnace, the fire has been turned up seven times hotter, are singing with the sound track of ‘Amazing Grace.’”
Ephesians 4:29 instructs, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Jesus also taught in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil, for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
Psalm 119:14 likewise reads, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Photo Credit:USC Thornton School of Music – University of Southern California