Cult of Beyonce: how the star inspired a new wave of Christian worship

The Guardian Entertainment 3 weeks ago

Name: The cult of Beyoncé.

Age: Quietly building since 1981.

Appearance: Fierce, but also quite holy.

Beyoncé! Yas queen! And yas queen with you.

What? Why are you talking so weirdly? Beyoncé, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed.

Seriously, what’s going on? Wait, hasn’t it started yet?

Hasn’t what started yet? The Beyoncé mass.

What Beyoncé mass? O Lord Beyoncé, holy mother, almighty, everlasting Beyoncé. Through Blue Ivy thou didst redeem us from sin, giving her …

This is getting creepy now. Join us in praise: the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn and Harlem’s St James Presbyterian are holding Beyoncé masses, building upon last April’s inaugural Beyoncé mass held in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. We must worship Beyoncé, the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is hers.

Worship her? Oh fine, not actually worship, but the mass is an exploration of Christian themes through her art. That takes place in a church.

Is this real? Yes, it’s real. The masses are the brainchild of the Rev Yolanda Norton who, inspired by Beyoncé’s “physical and emotional and spiritual struggles”, put together a service that uses her story and songs as an alternative to traditional Christian worship.

So what happens? According to reports, the mass is made up of black female officiants, dancers and singers, and uses sermons and scripture readings to meditate on race and gender among African Americans.

And people actually go to this? In droves. The San Francisco mass drew a crowd of 900 to a service that usually only attracts 50. To put it another way, Beyoncé is officially 18 times more popular than Jesus.

Should we really be using church services to celebrate Beyoncé, though? Of course we should. Why wouldn’t we?

Because she once advocated an irresponsible crash diet? Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

Because she has a history of taking huge sums of money from unsavoury characters? Remember that time she got paid $2m to play a concert for Colonel Gaddafi’s son? Oh, come on. Getting rich at any cost is basically the entire point of all religion. Grow up.

Fine, OK, you win. Contemporary pop musicians are completely deserving of their own mass. That’s right. And don’t you forget it.

So does this mean we can also go to Kanye West’s “Sunday Services” now? Oh, God, absolutely not. I might be spiritual, but I’m not stupid.

Do say: “Beyoncé is the new religion.”

Don’t say: “Join us next week for the inaugural divine Pussycat Dolls liturgy.”

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