SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — An estimated 750-900 people flocked to a San Francisco cathedral’s “Beyoncé Mass” on Wednesday night, an event that blended renditions of the secular pop star’s music with the reading of Scripture, communion, and the presentation of a related message by a seminary professor. While the event was popular with the locals, others state that the world’s music has no place being performed in what is supposed to be the holy house of God.
“Countless professing Christians seem to have little or no shame about the compromises they will make with God’s word to attract a larger crowd. Substituting godly music, filled with words that glorify the Lord, for Beyoncé’s music, is just more evidence that we are in the apostasy that was prophesied by Jesus and the apostles (2 Tim. 4:2-4),” Joe Schimmel, pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California and host of the documentary “They Sold Their Souls for Rock ‘N’ Roll,” told Christian News Network.
The event, hosted at Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill, was part of the weekly “Vine” offering, first launched in March 2017 for “urbanites and spiritual seekers.”
As the most recent series has been focused on the experiences of those marginalized by society, Wednesday night’s service featured Yolanda Norton, the assistant professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary, who teaches a class at the institution on “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible.” The course focuses on themes in the pop singer’s music and the struggles and injustices that black women face.
Norton rebuffed notions that the service was “worship” of Beyoncé.
“We worship God at Grace, and none other. The medium is not the message. The medium is Beyoncé’s powerful songs, which give voice to black female experience, exploring themes of spirituality, sexuality and agency,” Norton told Ebony.
“Your friends may ask you about this [event],” also reads a note posted to the Grace Cathedral website. “You might want to remind them that God is in all the world and that Beyoncé is made in God’s image. The Church has not treated women of color fairly and it is time to face this truth.”
A line was stated to have wrapped around the building Wednesday night as hundreds arrived to partake in the Beyoncé Mass. The evening featured the performance of songs made popular by Beyoncé, both as a solo artist and as a part of the group Destiny’s Child.
“I’m a survivor/I’m not gon’ give up” singers on stage belted out, performing the Destiny Child’s tune about bouncing back from a breakup.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the event also featured readings from the Psalms and Luke, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and the offering of communion. Norton additionally delivered a message about love in the face of hatred.
“I’ve been asked time and time again, ‘Why Beyoncé?'” she explained to those gathered, according to NBC News. “I believe in Beyoncé because she reminds us you have to do things your way.”
However, some state that the often scantily-clad, sexually suggestive singer isn’t exactly the most exemplary role model for African American women today, especially those who seek to follow Christ and lead holy lives.
“Beyoncé is a horrifying role model for those who want to worship the living God, but sadly, she is a great role model for those who would rather worship Beyoncé, themselves, and dark occult powers,” Schimmel told Christian News Network.
He noted an image of the pop singer wearing a large goat head ring, as well a screenshot from one of her music videos in which a woman bears the numbers “666” on her clothing.
“No one can dispute that Beyoncé has repeatedly [utilized] symbols promoting Satanism, like rings bearing the Crowleyan goat headed Baphomet,” Schimmel said. “In the video for her song ‘Superpower,’ Beyoncé struts around with a girl brandishing 666, the number of the Antichrist, on her shirt!”
In a 2016 video produced by Good Fight Ministries, Schimmel noted that Beyoncé made a Mudra hand gesture symbolizing occultic energy in the music video for “Hymn for the Weekend.” The video focused on the Hindu “Festival of Colors,” known as Holi, named after the goddess Holika. The event is celebrated in modern times by Hindus and non-Hindus alike.
“Ah-oh-ah-oh-ah/Got me feeling drunk and high,” Beyoncé sings in the video, her hands covered with intricate henna designs customary to Hindu celebrations.
Schimmel also recalled that in 2013, the singer “posted a risqué picture of herself in front of a depiction of the Last Supper,” in which she blocked Jesus out of the photograph with her body. The image was soon deleted after controversy ensued over the matter.
“[No one] can deny that her husband, Jay-Z, praises Satan in his song ‘Lucifer,’ where he states that Lucifer rebelled against God for a ‘righteous cause,'” Schimmel additionally noted. “It is also undeniable that Jay-Z has worn a hoodie promoting the satanic slogan of Satanist Aleister Crowley, proclaiming the satanic maxim ‘Do What Thou Wilt!'”
ABC News quipped about the Beyoncé Mass on Thursday, recognizing that the pop star’s songs aren’t church material.
“It was only good until they started singing ‘Drunken Love’ and ‘Naughty Girl,'” one reporter jested.
“I’ve been drinking/I get filthy when that liquor get into me/I’ve been thinking/Why can’t I keep my fingers off you, baby?” one of the songs cited states. The tune was most likely not performed at the event.
Leader Jude Harmon told the Huffington Post that he doesn’t see a problem with the Wednesday night offering because “conservative Christians see a high wall separating the Church from the world; progressive Christians do not.” Grace Cathedral identifies as progressive and has a webpage noting that it is “proud of [its] history of LGBT acceptance and advocacy.”
1 John 2:15-17 states, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”