I learned that abortion was wrong before I learned what abortion was. I later learned that abortion was murdering an unborn child. I learned both of these things from Christian rock songs.
A typical example was “Who Will” by DeGarmo & Key, from their 1989 album “The Pledge”, which I found for £1 in a Christian bookshop bargain bin in about 1992. I was seven at the time. I never actually liked “Who Will” very much, but I heard it a fair bit because my dad played the whole album in the car. He never talked to me about the lyrics or what the meant, but I took it that everything therein had his approval since it was Christian and he kept playing it.
For a while, Whitecross were my favourite band. I was a bit late to the scene (they were at their peak when I was still learning how to use a toilet), but they had actually been a lot of Christian kids’ favourite hair metal band. Their lead vocalist, Scott Wenzel, sounded almost exactly like Stephen Pearcy from Ratt. In 1987, this was a major selling point. Ratt were a platinum-selling band, but conservative Christian parents wouldn’t let their kids listen to them. Solution: Whitecross.
Unlike most Christian versions of secular bands, Whitecross were pretty good (by the standards of a genre which critics universally regard as the nadir of rock n’ roll). I think By Demand, a compilation of Whitecross bangers, might be a better listen than Ratt’s best-of Ratt & Roll 81-91. Whitecross axeman Rex Carroll compares pretty favourably to 80s guitar heroes like Dokken’s George Lynch. And Whitecross definitely have more good songs than Dokken (which is to say, they have some good songs).
Of course, I had no idea at the time that Whitecross sounded like Ratt and Dokken because I wasn’t allowed to listen to those agents of Satan.
Anyway, the Whitecross song I have chosen to dissect is “No Second Chances”, which isn’t necessarily one of their best. It’s here because I find it disturbing.
So as you probably gathered, this song relates Jesus’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus. As hard rock lyrical fodder, this is—as Bill & Ted would say—most atypical.
I am on holiday. So instead of a post from me, I’ll treat you to the thoughts of some of 2014’s commenters, both those who agree and who disagree with me.
evolutionists believe we evolved from a rock. a tomato a dog and a human are not the same but evolutionists believe they all came from a common ancestor. you want to believe we came from nothing. face it, you believe that you have evidence for evolution but in reality you are closed minded and hate God and thats why this lie looks like evidence to you. it is convenient to believe that you wont be judged after this life. well my friends it is not. I hope you find Jesus because he is the only one who can make it right.
DC Talk might be the most successful evangelical Christian group ever. Their 1995 album Jesus Freak sold two million copies in the US alone. And, if I might have a Christian rock hipster moment here, I liked them before they were famous.
Still, I was recently reminded (by an amusing list called “Top 10 Christian songs that also work as parodies of Christian songs“) of DC Talk’s all-time low point, “I Don’t Want It”.
Yo, s-e-x is a test when I’m pressed
So back up off with less of that zest
Impress this brotha with a life of virtue
The innocence that’s spent is gonna hurt you
Safe is the way they say to play, then again safe ain’t safe at all today
So, just wait for the mate that’s straight from God
and don’t have sex ’til you tie the knot
(This rap was so good they included it in the song twice)
Everyone [here meaning “all the people I grew up with”] knows [here meaning “was indoctrinated to believe”] that your ‘purity’ is the most precious gift you can give your spouse. Because they care so much about their fans, DC Talk wrote a song to help them stay pure: playing “I Don’t Want It” to a potential suitor is a foolproof way to ensure you don’t get laid.
It’s all go in the exciting world of fundamentalist education this week as former Christian Education Europe (CEE) employee Christine Gregg has started blowing the whistle again. You may remember that recently a website called Ace Education sprang up, seemingly with the primary intention of discrediting Leaving Fundamentalism. This was the blog that gave the world 10 Questions for Jonny Scaramanga. The blogger behind it was Christine. Now she has had enough.
Christine says that she was pressured into writing the blog by CEE founder Arthur Roderick, but never felt comfortable writing it. Now she wants to expose the unethical practices and bullying she says she saw at CEE.
Last week, I also had an article posted on Guardian Science blogs, in which I revealed two things: 1) Four British universities have stated that they consider the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) as entry qualification. 2) When students study science for the ICCE, they will read that it could be possible to generate electricity from snow.
Taken together, these two developments are very bad news for CEE’s flagship product, the ICCE qualification.
This is the first installment of my series on Christian rock. Read the introduction here.
Carman was where it all began for me. Before my family discovered Carman, Christian music was tedious, church was boring, and there’s an excellent chance I would have looked for entertainment in secular culture. After Carman, being a Christian seemed exciting, like something I wanted to do for myself rather than just something I did because it was my duty as a member of my family.
Compared Michael Jackson, Carman was not fantastic. But, at least in my case, Jackson was not really the competition (although I had heard “Black or White” at school and it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard) (proper school, that is, before I went to the ACE school). Carman’s competition was Graham Kendrick and Don Francisco, and had I known the term and been allowed to use it, I would have told you that those guys sucked balls.
The first Carman song I ever heard was “Radically Saved”.
Today, governments are worried about the radicalisation of young Muslims and the Government spends millions on anti-radicalisation programmes. In 1991, I (aged six) began to think of the term as a badge of honour.
After yesterday’s post on the Ezzos, here’s the firsthand experience from Auriel, who was raised under their Growing Kids God’s Way method.
Trigger warnings: references (sometimes graphic) to emotional, physical, religious, and sexual abuse.
HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Auriel” is a pseudonym. Auriel blogs at Drying My Wings.
Also in this series: Part One: Growing Kids the Abusive Way | Part Two: Isolation and Ideology | Part Three: Mini-Parents | Part Four: The Sound of a Sewing Machine | Part Five: The Aftermath of Childhood Abuse
Part One: Growing Kids the Abusive Way
“Turn around, put your hands on the bed.” You scream, “No mommy, please!” She’ll grab you by your arm, wrist, shoulder, lapel, jaw or hair, shake, twist, or drag you, scratch, pull, shove, slap or kick you if you don’t move your butt to her room. “You selfish, spoiled rotten brat! You’re just a little ingrate, you little jerk. Let’s have a spanking!” she yells. Escape is futile.
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Previously on this blog, we’ve looked at the history of spanking in Accelerated Christian Education schools and asked whether it still happens today. Sources closer to ACE than me tell me that paddling is a thing of the past in UK schools that teach the ACE curriculum. But they’re still selling spanking manuals.
Christian Education Europe (CEE) has UK contracts to distribute two ranges of products. One is ACE. The other is Growing Families International (GFI), a series of child-rearing manuals by Gary and Marie Ezzo. In preparing this post, I tried to think of a way to convey to you in a single sentence just how problematic the Ezzos’ teachings are. And I have it. But first some background.
Have you heard of James Dobson? Within the Christian Right, Dobson is a voice to rival Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell; he was particularly influential on the Reagan administration. Dobson’s books on discipline, The Strong-Willed Child and Dare to Discipline, are pretty big on spanking and other ‘creative’ punishments themselves, and you should ask some of the kids who were raised with Dobson’s methods if they think they were abusive.
So you’re in the picture. Dobson is a Christian Right advocate of authoritarian, disciplinarian parenting.
And here comes my sentence that says it all about the Ezzos:
The organisation James Dobson founded, Focus on the Family, has publicly denounced the Ezzos’ teachings.
Welcome to the first installment of a new series. When I named this blog “Leaving Fundamentalism” I really meant it to be a diverse examination of all the unusual parts of my bizarre Christian upbringing. In the end, mostly because of my PhD studies, the blog has been swarmed by posts critiquing ACE. Here’s a bit of light relief: Once a week I’ll show you a Christian rock song from my childhood and talk about how it affected me.
People might be misled by this into thinking that ACE and Christian rock are somehow related. They aren’t, really. ACE is adamant in its opposition to Christian rock music. In fact, that was the first thing I disliked about ACE. Long before I realised how sexist it is, or how racist, and years before I noticed they’d been teaching me lies, I loathed ACE because they were opposed to Christian rock music, which for me was the biggest reason that I was enthusiastic about being a Christian.
In the rules for ACE’s student conventions (annual competitions between ACE schools and students), the music section reads now as it did when I was in school:
Competition arrangements are to be Christian or patriotic rather than secular. Classical instrumental music is allowed as long as it is non-offensive to Christian values or good taste. Music sung or played with a jumpy, sensual, or worldly style is not acceptable. Contemporary Christian, jazz, gospel rock, or gospel country music are not acceptable. In our music guidelines, “contemporary” refers to a style of music, not the date on which a piece was written. Music must be appropriate for a typical conservative fundamental church service (musical arrangement, text, and presentation).