Democrat New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and congregants at the Victory Tabernacle Deliverance Temple in Orangeburg, South Carolina, are drawing flak for worshiping with embattled R&B singer R. Kelly's hit song "I Believe I Can Fly."
De Blasio was reportedly in South Carolina exploring a presidential bid, when he was recorded at the church Sunday by a NY1 reporter flapping his arms along with congregants to the rhythm of Kelly’s hit song from the soundtrack to the 1996 film "Space Jam."
Kelly has been under fire for years for his alleged sexual abuse of young girls and Chicago prosecutors charged him last month with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. In "Surviving R. Kelly," a six-part Lifetime documentary, filmmakers also interviewed more than 50 people, including the singer's ex-wife, numerous women, their family members and his former tour manager who all claimed he abused them.
In a now infamous interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King that aired last Wednesday morning, Kelly called his accusers liars who've painted him to look like the devil and a monster.
"They was describing Lucifer. I'm not Lucifer. I'm a man. I make mistakes, but I'm not a devil, and by no means am I a monster," Kelly said.
As many critics criticized the mayor for swinging to the song, others faulted the church for performing it.
“The bigger issue is the church shouldn't be playing this. He's just going with the flow like every other awkward white politician in a black church,” tweeted one online observer identified only as Sealy.
“If he is wrong for dancing to the song, then the church is wrong for singing it,” tweeted Monique Williams, a student.
The Christian Post reached out to Victory Tabernacle Deliverance Temple for comment on the song choice on Tuesday and a representative said no one was immediately available to discuss what happened during the mayor’s visit.
A de Blasio spokesman told the New York Daily News that the mayor didn’t know the song was an R. Kelly hit.
“No, he didn’t know whose song it is,” de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said. “The mayor wasn’t the church’s DJ, and he certainly can’t be expected to recognize every R. Kelly track. Thanks.”
A Monmouth University poll of 12 declared and potential Democrat presidential candidates released Monday said de Blasio is the only potential contender to receive a negative favorability rating, with 18 percent of respondents holding a favorable view of him compared to 24 percent who see him in an unfavorable light.
"De Blasio's is the only name among 23 candidates or potential candidates who have been tested in Monmouth's polling this year to earn a net negative rating among Democrats," the pollsters said.