The ever-controversial television presenter Bill O’Reilly has used data from a wide-ranging American survey on religion to sensationally suggest that rap music is (somehow) responsible for a decline in Christianity on Fox News no less.
“There is no question that people of faith are being marginalised by a secular media and pernicious entertainment,” O’Reilly said. “The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behaviour, and that sinks into the minds of some young people — the group that is most likely to reject religion. Also, many movies and TV shows promote non-traditional values. If you are a person of faith, then the media generally thinks you are a loon.”
Mass media is a wonderful place for mass generalisations and ludicrous claims, and it seems O’Reilly has taken this opportunity with both hands.
Let’s outline exactly what is wrong with his statements. Firstly, he offers no evidence as to why rap music is responsible for this, apart from ‘glorifying depraved behaviour’ – whatever that means. Granted there are some rap artists known for promoting questionable morals, but this is not a new concept. In fact, he seems to be under the impression that rap music is a new phenomenon that is slowly seeping into the minds of the youth and corrupting them from the inside. However, the reality is that rap has been around for decades. Unless I am unaware of significantly more ‘depraved’ rap music over the last few years, then rap music cannot be responsible for the ‘decline of America’ as he puts it. Furthermore, artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Killer Mike are continuing to mould and change the genre, with Lamar tackling wide ranging social issues within his music while being recognised for his community service, and Mike being an outspoken advocate of race rights and role models. Then you’ve got people like Snoop Dogg speaking out against gun violence – surely issues like this should take precedence over religion, or at the very least, exemplify how rap is not an evil place? And if he’s really going for the religion thing, let’s not forget that Kendrick Lamar was reportedly baptised after releasing Good Kid m.A.A.d City, and frequently references god (and the devil) in his work.
While the poll states that Christianity has dropped 8%, Judaism and Islamic faith have both risen significantly as well. By his logic, rap music is somehow corrupting Christians and shepherding them across to other religions as well as out of religion all together.
It really makes no sense at all. None. At all. I mean maybe if he’d said something along the lines of “Fans of Satanic black metal from Nordic countries have increasingly turned away from Christianity,” that would make sense. But rap?
Maybe if he’d tried to say that rap causes one of the many problems that rap has traditionally been seen to have caused – violence, degrading women, drug use etc. Not that these are true either, but at least there’s some semblance of reason there. You could put those two together at least. But religion?
A manipulative, deceitful way to convey an argument is to simply drop random fact bombs with drama and gusto, and hope the audience is shell shocked enough to not notice they aren’t connected at all, and that no evidence has been provided to even slightly support the argument. Clearly, O’Reilly is way off the mark. He has a problem with rap music and believes it may be corrupting young people, and so innocuously slips it into a wide ranging survey in the hope that he can both condemn rap music and question the decline of religion in the same story. He even states later on in the video that the main problem is corruption from within the Church.
Today, it’s clearer than ever that the world of rap is certainly not the violent, over-decadent, hateful, demonic genre that O’Reilly thinks it is. If anything, there are more religious references than there are in other genres of music today. If you’re particularly interested in the relationship between rap and religion, read this excellent article here.
But really, none of this even matters. The fact is that rap and religion have very little to do with each other as a whole (unless you’re a Christian rapper, that is). One is a genre of music, and one is a type of belief system. There’s no way that those two have or will ever correlate in a manner that will directly influence one another. And the fact that O’Reilly is so ignorant and miseducated that he can say something so bizarre, only serves to once again remind the world that he is, in fact, an idiot.