Kanye West and Jerry Falwell Jr.—one of Donald Trump’s most notable evangelical supporters—have reportedly become friends.
Falwell recently told Slate that Kanye called him “out of the blue” in September to ask if he could host a big church service at Liberty University, where Falwell is the president.
Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty is a prominent stage for conservative speakers and entertainers. Even though Ye has distanced himself from Trump after the MAGA hat debacle, the rapper’s alleged contact with Falwell and his interest in performing at Liberty indicate he could still have a healthy relationship with the evangelical leaders who are close to Trump. Falwell said that he and Ye have now “struck up a little friendship.”
According to Falwell, Ye’s plan to perform at Liberty quickly came undone. West phoned Falwell on a Tuesday and wanted to hold the event at Liberty’s football stadium the following Sunday, proposing that the audience of 25,000 be split between Liberty students and Lynchburg locals. West then checked in with “the best publicist in the world,” a.k.a. Kim Kardashian, who determined it would be too hard to pull the event off on such a short timeline.
Falwell also mentioned that Kanye had ideas for relief projects for people who lost their homes when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas. Ye, in particular, had an idea to build houses in the U.S. for displaced Bahamians to live. Falwell suggested that those plans weren’t possible, and instead connected Ye with evangelist Franklin Graham, who leads the international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse, and who is also a huge Trump supporter. “Franklin gave him a lot of good advice,” Falwell said. “[Kanye’s] got a good heart.”
The thought of Ye performing at Liberty was such a bizarre idea that the school newspaper even published a satirical article on April Fool’s Day. The story “reported” that Ye and his wife appeared at “Kanvocation” to announce his campaign for president in 2024. Falwell told Slate that he persuaded West to wait until 2024 to run.
Falwell faced backlash in mid-September, in part due to emails where he allegedly belittled Liberty students and staff. Reuters reported on the emails, which Falwell exchanged over the past decade, and some of which contained offensive language. In a 2010 email, for example, he called a then-student "emotionally imbalanced" and "physically retarded." In another email, he called a university official "a half-wit and easy to manipulate."
Falwell confirmed that the emails were authentic, but claimed they lack context, CNN reports. In September, some students protested on Liberty's campus and asked that he be held accountable.