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Grand Rapids-based Acton Institute’s Rev. Sirico says he is “impressed” by the depth of Kanye West’s recent conversion, but hope he “gets the right people around him”

November 25, 2019

It is rather instructive how mainstream corporate news media chastised Kanye West in 2005 for his critical comments about President Bush’s failed response to hurricane Katrina, but now, when West is praising President Trump and embracing religion, he is now someone with depth.

This was certainly the tone that the Acton Institute founder, Rev. Robert Sirico, took while being interviewed on Fox News a week ago Sunday. In a five and a half minute interview on Fox News, Rev. Sirico made some very instructive comments about Kanye West and the context of West being at pastor Joel Osteen’s mega-church.

The Fox commentator asked Rev. Sirico if Kanye West’s conversion was encouraging. Rev. Sirico said that he was encouraged because he felt Kanye’s conversion had some depth, but then went on to say he was concerned that the singer had appeared with Joel Osteen.

Osteen preaches a prosperity gospel, where those with wealth are seen as being blessed by God. The prosperity gospel is in many ways a more recent manifestation of Calvinist teachings, plus Osteen and those who embrace this brand of religion are staunch defenders of capitalism. Being that the prosperity gospel movement celebrates wealth and capitalism, one would think that the Acton Institute’s founder would be a fan, especially since the Acton Institute is essentially an apologist for religion and the free market.

Rev. Siroco continues by saying that he is “impressed” with Kanye West’s intellect and seriousness, but then follows those comments up right away by stating that he hopes that West will, “get the right people around him.” Sirico doesn’t qualify what he means by that, except to say that what he finds wrong with the culture today – the materialism, over-sexualization and disrespect for the dignity of life. Again, Rev. Sirico is rather vague on what he means by materialism and disrespect for the dignity of life, but such comments are rather confusing or contradictory when the founder of the Acton Institute praises the like of Betsy DeVos and Erik Prince, siblings that swim in materialism and don’t respect the dignity of people of color or non-christians.

Rev. Sirico then talks about people having deep conversions, like St. Paul and Dorothy Day. Now Dorothy Day was the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, which preached a simple life, non-violence and the evils of capitalism. It is interesting that Sirico would name Day as an example of miraculous conversion, since she would be in complete opposition to what Rev. Sirico and the Acton Institute are about.

The Acton founder then is asks if this demonstration of faith by West is the “start of something else?” Sirico again gushes with praise over the reaction to Kanye West’s album and the potential it has to reach people who have rejected faith. However, Sirico qualifies is comments by saying that the conversion needs to be rooted in depth and authenticity. It seems that Sirico is providing himself an out, in case the converted Kanye West doesn’t live up to the kind of person of faith that Rev. Sirico considers to have depth and authenticity, such as the Betsy DeVos and Erik Prince (Sirico presided over Erik Prince’s marriage).

In addition, Rev. Sirico’s qualifying comments about Kanye West’s conversion further demonstrates his embrace of white supremacy. Sirico would never question the sincerity or authenticity of white people’s faith. Take for instance the members of the Board of Directors at the Acton Institute. It is not surprising that the Acton Institute’s board is made up of a bunch of white, wealthy christians, christians whose faith is not questioned, nor does it come with qualifiers about authenticity or calls for these people to surround themselves with the right people. (right people is code for white people) 

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