Pop-culture references are not new to sermons, but a high-profile Baltimore pastor is making national headlines for quoting a popular Chris Brown song.
Recently, the Rev. Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Temple was in the middle of an impassioned sermon titled "I'm My Enemies' Worst Nightmare." To punctuate a point about men needing to recognize the good women in their lives (and not "run off with a side chick," as Bryant also said), he surprised the congregation by quoting the chorus of Brown's current hit, "Loyal."
"God help me. Old saints, y'all forgive me, but I got to tell you: These hoes ain't loyal!" Bryant said to cheers. (It begins at around the 18-minute mark in the above YouTube clip that was published on Tuesday.)
The quote brought many of the women in the audience to their feet in approval, but reaction on the Internet has been less supportive.
"It's one thing to be an outspoken and flamboyant minister, but it's another thing to use a word that is not only derogatory but also misogynistic," wrote TheRoot.com's Yesha Callahan on Wednesday.
This morning, Bryant took to Twitter to address the controversy.
"Don't critique a quote when you never heard message!" Bryant wrote. "20 seconds of a 30 minute message is incomplete assessment."
Bryant could argue his overall message aimed to promote commitment and maturity, but his inclusion of "Loyal's" lyrics appeared to put down other women in the process.
"Loyal," in particular, is a deceptively ugly song about distrusting women. The song's bouncy beat and Brown's sunny delivery mask the blunt dismissiveness of the lyrics (which were written by R&B singer Ty Dolla $ign, not Brown).
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Although Bryant found it appropriate to use at the Empowerment Temple, the word "hoes" in the song's original hook is changed to "girls" on the radio version. The song currently sits at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has reached as high as No. 9. on the singles chart.