4-year-old preacher is YouTube sensation
He's only a pre-schooler, but Kanon Tipton has become a YouTube sensation with his pentecostal preaching.
Millions have viewed video clips of Tipton as a 21-month-old and now as a 4-year-old preaching from the pulpit of his father's church in Grenada, Mississippi, in a manner much like many evangelists – everything from shouting and waving his arms to jumping and wiping his forehead with a handkerchief.
His father, Damon, described it as a "phenomenon" on the Today show.
Damon Tipton, who has been pastor of The Pentecostals of Grenada since 2008, believes it's a little of both mimicking and a calling.
"Yes, children absorb whatever you put in front of them. He's been around the ministry," he told the Today show on Tuesday. "But I do feel like the hand of God is on him in a special way."
Kanon, along with another "pint-sized preacher", is the subject of Wednesday night special on the National Geographic Channel.
The young preachers have stirred controversy over whether letting them take the pulpit is appropriate.
"I'm a Christian and seriously this isn't cute. The kid is adorable but mock preaching is not," said YouTube user anapier2006.
"I literally had chills thru the entire video and NOT the good kind. No matter how 'cute' this may be to some people this is inappropriate for a church service, people should be going to be taught the word of God and grow closer in their walks...instead they see this and frankly its (sic) disturbing."
But Bishop David Tipton Jr the Mississippi District Superintendent for the United Pentecostal Church International, said he endorses it.
Sister Johnnie Lowery, a member of the congregation, also said on the National Geographic special, "I see nothing but Jesus in a little boy that would make anybody happy. I can't compose myself when he (sic) up there."
Addressing the criticism that Kanon is too young to preach in front of the congregation, Pastor Damon Tipton told the Today show, "All that we have done is involved him in church. He himself has taken upon this passion. We're not pushing him."
"It doesn't have an agenda. We don't travel with him."
Kanon does not preach all the time, only when inspired.
Though Pastor Tipton and the congregation are unable to put together some of the words that come out of the pre-schooler's mouth, other words are "part of the phenomenon", Tipton said.
"Hallelujah," Kanon says as he approaches the pulpit.
"The Lord is here tonight and his name is Jesus!" the young boy preaches, as the congregation claps and responds in support. "There's only one God!"
"We need the Holy Ghost," he tells the church. "I love to preach here tonight."
Kanon says he likes to stand and preach in front of the congregation as he sees his "daddy preach all the time".
"I'm a preacher," he says.
Kanon is a third-generation preacher.