Rapper T.I. is not known for mincing words, so many Christian fans of his “ExpediTIously” podcast had plenty to say following his recent criticism of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in outside Atlanta.
T.I. (aka Clifford “Tip” Harris) and guest Killer Mike (aka Michael Render) chopped it up in the podcast about attending the Stonecrest, Ga., megachurch earlier this month, where Kanye West served up a “Sunday Service” worship performance.
T.I. said he felt “accosted and basically exploited” by the repeated calls for money by New Birth pastors.
Referring to Jamal Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth, Tip noted, “Jamal already raised the offering,” but apparently guest preacher, Bishop I.V. Hilliard, of New Light Christian Center Church in Houston, didn’t get the memo, as he “launched into a lengthy sermon extolling the virtue of giving,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, noting that the hip-hop stars never mention Hilliard’s name during the podcast.
“When we sat down there was a whole new agenda…it was like they rung the red bell at the Players Club,” T.I. added.
The podcast segment received more than 2,000 comments on T.I.’s Instagram page, and even singer Anderson.Paak addressed the matter, writing. “They ran in them pockets in the name of the laaaawd!!”
Bryant eventually chimed in with a message of his own on social media reminding critics and inquiring minds of all the good works the church has done for the community, including giving away 5,000 pairs of shoes to students as part of a campaign to save the financially strapped Bennett College.
Bryant noted that it was important for him to address T.I. and Killer Mike’s claim that they were “finessed out some money” at the church because “to not give redress would be an assault to the body of Christ when I believe I am an ambassador as the two of you are for your field.”
But New Birth is not the only megachurch T.I. had a problem with. After a visit to Hilliard’s church, his experience left him with a peculiar grimace on his face.
“Are you telling me, I have to give $1,000 for the good Lord almighty to hear my blessings? … that’s probably when I made the face, as he says ‘get your blessings heard,’” said T.I., according to Christian Post. “This is extortion. At this point you’re telling these people they will not be blessed unless they give their money to you. And this is the problem I have with black churches. That was why I had that face.”
Killer Mike later said in a separate interview that he, Jamal and Tip were able to “very quickly” handle any misunderstanding about the tithes and offering process at New Birth as “gracefully as three Black men should be as an example going forward on social media.”