Lil Nas X Puts Christianity on Blast. Again. Or Does He?

Queer performer releases ‘J Christ’ video, casually stokes internet firestorm

Sarah Bricker Hunt

With a fresh new 2024 stretching out before us with all the hope and promise we can manage to muster while basking in the afterglow of yet another dumpster fire of a year, Lil Nas X has arrived just on time to define his new era. Sort of. 

The outspoken queer performer and internet phenom took to Twitter last November to casually ask followers, “Y’all mind if I enter my Christian era?” If true, it would be an eyebrow-raising departure from the singer, who famously performed a lap dance for Satan in his 2021 video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” 

Lil Nas X doubled down on the proclamation this week when he posted an acceptance letter from Liberty University, the far-right Christian college established by the late, not-so-great-if-you’re-queer Jerry Falwell. “I know twitter hates me right now but i want yall to know im literally about to go to college for biblical studies in the fall,” he wrote on X while sharing a copy of an acceptance letter from the school. “Not everything is a troll! Anyways IM A STUDENT AGAIN! LETS GOOO”

But wait. Is everything a troll? Because the letter was signed by Falwell, who, as we’ve established, is dead. He’s been dead since 2007. Jerry Falwell, Jr. took over that same year. 

Still, there’s something Christian-y going on because social media is aflutter about Lil Nas X’s latest controversy, which centers on the performer’s newest scantily-clad character, J. Christ. Before a video for the “J Christ” single came out, Lil Nas X dropped an image preview featuring himself as Jesus Christ on the cross, along with a GIF where he is portrayed as Jesus affixed to a golden cross that morphs into a glowing armor around him. "MY NEW SINGLE IS DEDICATED TO THE MAN WHO HAD THE GREATEST COMEBACK OF ALL TIME! J CHRIST JANUARY 12, 2024 00:00 EST BE THERE!" he wrote on X Monday.

Professional misogynist and incel hero Andrew Tate delivered this devastating criticism earlier this week on the platform. “Lil Nas X is both weird and gay,” he wrote, adding, “He’s not even interesting. Just tacky and desperate for attention that he didn’t get from his father in his youth.” 

After the release of the video, which features a crucified Lil Nas X, a one-on-one game of basketball between an angel and a demon and a trippy, soaking wet Noah’s Ark dance scene, YouTube star Kai Cenat posted an expletive-filled video rant to X that has been making the rounds. “No! Fuck that!” the video begins. Then it’s just more of that for about 40 seconds:

Other responses seemed to arrive at what may be the actual point of the performer’s latest take on Christianity. “hot take but there is nothing Lil Nas X can do as a gay man to "disrespect Christianity" that will be worse than what Christianity has done to the queer community,” wrote X user @ChairByThWindow.

Lil Nas X responded to the backlash on X, posting, “I’ve crossed satan up and broke his ankles, snapped his neck and literally killed him, made a song referencing the return of jesus, and somehow yall still think im a satanist. I can not win lmaooo.”

We may never get a definitive answer on whether or not Lil Nas X is a Christian or a “real” Christian according to a certain brand of Christians, and frankly, that’s OK. Much like pop musicians like Madonna who’ve used iconic religious imagery to express a point or two, he gets to decide what brings him closer to God, or not. If it’s all a troll, it’s a troll with a point to be made about how a whole lot of so-called Christians in this country have unleashed a barrage of cruelty on the LGBTQ+ community over the past several years. And that instantly gives him more points than all the Andrew Tates, senior and junior Jerry Falwells and right-wing internet evangelists combined.