How Would Jesus Rock?
August 20, 2007 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Christs, Communists, & Rock 'n' Roll is an excellent introduction to a tradition of anti-rock writings and recordings by the Religious Right. In the 1960s, there was David Noebel who wrote Communism, Hypnotism, & the Beatles and The Marxist Minstrels. In the early 1970s, Reverend Riblett constructs a seven-foot cross out of rock music records and sets it aflame with gasoline. Michael Mills finds hidden Satanic messages in Bow Wow Wow and the Grateful Dead, while Bob Larson valiantly debates Mandy, a 13-year-old fan of the Cure. The motherlode is probably the cassettes of John Todd, who traveled the fundamentalist circuit in the 1970s claiming to be a former witch and a member of the Illuminati, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. (more inside)
posted by jonp72 (30 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can tell you that this hadn't died out by the mid-1980s. A guy I peer tutored briefly (before he got let go from the tutoring lab for proselytizing practically everybody who worked there or came in looking for help with schoolwork) gave me a pamphlet about the anti-Xtianity of rock music. I didn't have the heart to explain Petra and Stryper to him.
posted by pax digita at 8:19 PM on August 20, 2007

Rock music makes Jesus cross.
posted by isopraxis at 8:22 PM on August 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

How Would Jesus Rock?

He wouldn't, apparently.

When I was growing up as a young teen in a fundamentalist church (Mid 90's), "rock music" was still preached against as being satanically-inspired devil music.

Not only that, but up until I was about 18 I had no idea the kind of variety that encompassed the label "rock music". I had been raised to believe that "rock" just meant Black Sabbath and upside down crosses.

From Wikipedia's entry on John Todd: "Todd also claimed in his testimony to have murdered an officer in Germany and to have escaped prison with the help of the Illuminati, but his records show no such things occurred."

posted by Avenger at 8:35 PM on August 20, 2007

Anti-rock documentaries are also available on the web, including They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) and Hell's Bells. The most anti-rock site of them all may be, which compiles articles such as Carlos Santana and Demonism, Madonna Worships Satan!, and Beyonce Blasphemes God. Last but not least, here's Christian rock star Amy Grant flashing the devil sign.
posted by jonp72 at 8:38 PM on August 20, 2007

John Lennon claims that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. That went over about as well as Elvis the pelvis, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On." Rock was (not is) a protest, and in so being gave these holy rollers so much ammunition. Despite their condemnation by the false prophets, these songs excited kids, yet were basically harmless fun.
posted by caddis at 9:26 PM on August 20, 2007

Oh my goodness, not old Bob Larson. That guy saved my soul; he turned me from an apathetic fence sitter into a passionate atheist.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:39 PM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Is this John Todd? Or some other nutbar? Anyway, he has inadvertently provided a hook for Mylo, Fatboy Slim & Negativland, none of which he'd approve of, I'm sure.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:11 PM on August 20, 2007

Bob Larson is awesome. He almost always manages a conversion before the commercial and it took a mind as illuminated as his to see the satanic symbolism forged into the name R.E.O Speedwagon. The John Todd reference reminds me to give a shout out to the complete fraud, Mike Warnke.

On a related note, there appears to be fresh face on the expose scene, Bill Schoebelen, who is hawking his 9 hour DVD, Interview with an Ex-Vampire and making the usual promotional rounds. He's been at the top of the Masons, the Illuminati, the Satanists and was REAL VAMPIRE that drank blood before he discovered American Evangelical Christianity©!
posted by well_balanced at 10:47 PM on August 20, 2007

When I was a freshman in high school (in public high school for chrissakes!) we had an assembly once where a guy gave a speech about the evils of rock music. He went on, and on, and on, like a street preacher, telling us the end of the world was nigh if we allowed our young bodies and minds to be corrupted by the devil's music...

Turns out the assembly-organizer (whoever the hell that was) made a mistake (or so it seemed, because we never got an explanation) because the next week our assembly consisted of a local cover band who completely rocked the auditorium like it had never been rocked before (we were the epitome of the phrase "and the crowd goes wild"), and left us totally flabbergasted at the inconsistency of adults.
posted by amyms at 11:05 PM on August 20, 2007

Oh yeah, we went through all the "Rock is Evil" stuff at school in Christian Education class. The problem was, the materials provided to make their point could never quite keep up with the times. We're talking 1995 here; all the videos we were made to watch about the evils of rock music were warning us against Guns n Roses and 2 Live Crew.
posted by Jimbob at 11:34 PM on August 20, 2007

...those guys would have a coronary if they heard our worship team.

If certain beats were bad, I think the Bible would have mentioned it
posted by konolia at 5:15 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Thank god they never warned me about jazz.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:22 AM on August 21, 2007

Is this John Todd? Or some other nutbar? Anyway, he has inadvertently provided a hook for Mylo, Fatboy Slim & Negativland, none of which he'd approve of, I'm sure.

I don't know, but the "Christianity Is Stupid" sample that Negativland used is taken from Estus W. Pirkle in the Christian scare film, If Footmen Tire You, What Would Horses Do?
posted by jonp72 at 5:26 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

You fools, these fundamentalist rock 'n' roll haters are ten times cooler than the rock guys they hate. What do you think rock is, but a pale reflection of fundamentalist preaching, healing and pentacostal frenzy? You bozos. Go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The first thing you see when you walk in the door are film clips of fundamentalist preachers inveighing against rock 'n' roll, and smashing records. It's the greatest thing in the whole museum! These guys are a thousand times cooler than Mick Jagger or Bruce Springsteen. What do you think Jerry Lee Lewis is? What do you think Ray Charles is? They're just profane preachers, playing pale versions of gospel with "I love you baby" lyrics. Read this brilliant article by Nik Cohen (previously posted in Metafilter) about the "living Elvis," who confesses that rock 'n' roll was just "church music." What is Bruce Springsteen, but a half-assed preacher with no message. He doesn't even have the guts to go all the way and pretend to heal people onstange. Fundamentalists are the real rockers, and the badder, the faker, and hell-fire preachin'er they are, the better!
posted by Faze at 5:27 AM on August 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

Guns n Roses? That's when rock started being evil, as I recall. (get off my lawn!)

The way I heard this tripe argued was that it was in the rhythm, which came from Africa, where they all worshiped the devil, in the jungle. (Yep, blame it on the black folks!)

Music is a drug. Use it wisely.
posted by Goofyy at 5:40 AM on August 21, 2007

And there's always the anti-Semetic, homophobic Chick tract: Angels?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:48 AM on August 21, 2007

Hey, if you don't think rock is evil, you aren't listening. You aren't even a fan! Play Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced." It's like opening the door to a furnace! The hot breath of hell singes your face. But the main reason rock is evil because 99 percent of it sucks! Aerosmith is the spawn of satan because they put out a hundred LPs, and only one good song ("Train Kept a Rolling," whose provenance was church music-robbing Negroes of the 1940s). The Rolling Stones are evil because everything they ever did after Sticky Fingers blew to high heaven. They're evil wasters of plastic. David Bowie is evil because he wrote four good songs, and recorded 10,000 bad ones. I'd gladly trade a hundred half-assed, pseudo-preachers like Bono, for one hot, motor-mouthed, Bible thumping, forehead slamming fundamentalist.
posted by Faze at 7:10 AM on August 21, 2007

Oh, I've been looking for a reason to link to this page for a long time. I'm not even going to try to begin to enumerate all the wonderful/baffling things about that. If you would prefer it sorted by name, that's here.

I once spent a week, at my cousin's invitation, with him at HyperFundy U. somewhere in, pff, I dunno, it was some flat state with a lot of corn and Jesus. It turns out that this was "round up the heathens for a week of intense peer pressure to be saved" so that was a lot of fun - really! - but the one thing I remember is that he had a book on his shelf about the evil rock music.

Once section even told you how to identify the evil stuff.

I'll let you in on the secret. Decent music, the book tells us, has the accent on beats 1 & 3. Devil music, you rightly conclude, is betrayed by having the accent on beats 2 & 4.

posted by Wolfdog at 7:45 AM on August 21, 2007

How could you leave out KISS? When I was a kid, they were the most evil, devil-worshipping band on the planet. Heck, my mom basically equated distorted guitar with "evil" -- still does, I'm pretty sure.

Nowadays, of course, they sound like the cheesy, bubble-gum pop that they are/were...
posted by LordSludge at 7:48 AM on August 21, 2007

Here's another doozy: The Beatles Poured Evil Into the World
posted by jonp72 at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2007

This reads kinda corny, now, but still basically accurate.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:00 AM on August 21, 2007

Is this John Todd? Or some other nutbar? Anyway, he has inadvertently provided a hook for Mylo, Fatboy Slim & Negativland, none of which he'd approve of, I'm sure.

Evidently, it's some other nutbar. My Google-fu has determined that the source of the sample is The Church Universal and Triumphant, "Invocation for Judgement Against and Destruction of Rock Music," from Sounds of American Doomsday Cults Volume 14. Here's a blog post with some more background on the sample and a transcript of what it says. Oddly enough, according to the Wiki entry on The Church Universal and Triumphant, a member of Men At Work became a member of the church, even though the group was specifically condemned by name in the "Invocation for Judgement."
posted by jonp72 at 8:42 AM on August 21, 2007

Great post. As a teen, I used to wander into Christian bookstores (it was hard not to, they were on practically every corner in my neck of the woods) and head straight to the devil music section. It's how I knew what bands to listen to.

Once I even laid down my hard-earned allowance to purchase a book (I think it was by Bob Larson) called What Rock are You On? It was chock full of inaccuracies and misspellings (i.e. Kiss guitarist Ace Frenchleg) and provided hours and hours of entertainment for me and my buddies in first period Spanish class.
posted by Otis at 8:48 AM on August 21, 2007

Nice post. Thanks to you, jonp72, and everyone else for the links. I used to buy any book I could find in used book stores on the subject of satan and rock because it was always an interesting way to find out what Ozzy was saying when I couldn't understand the lyrics. That and it's a great subject to waste a few dollars on.
posted by sleepy pete at 9:19 AM on August 21, 2007

Ace Frenchleg!
posted by jtron at 10:15 AM on August 21, 2007

jonp72 - scroll down all the way to the bottom of that Beatles link.

"This site is intended to be a joke, but I didn't make all this up by myself."
posted by yhbc at 10:30 AM on August 21, 2007

thanks, well_balanced for that link on Mike Warnke. I was forced to listen to one of his comedy albums during a youth dinner in junior high. (I was only there because of a girl.)

Although, to me, it wasn't funny at all, everyone else was laughing like mad. Then came the 'Satan Story' about how he woke up one morning with his hair matted against his face and he looked in the mirror and saw Satan laughing back at him. Literally, not metaphorically.

I remember thinking that there was something very wrong with both him and his story. Turns out my suspicions were right on.
posted by WhipSmart at 12:01 PM on August 21, 2007

I'm amused that those preachers aren't railing against country-western music. Adultery, murder, depression, drinking, smoking, and trains. I mean, come on.

Now I personally think some music is good and some is not, but it ain't got a thing to do with where the beat falls in the measure.

And I promise you that the worship team back in Jerusalem during the time of David did NOT sound like the Laurence Welk Orchestra.
posted by konolia at 7:03 PM on August 21, 2007

konolia said: I'm amused that those preachers aren't railing against country-western music. Adultery, murder, depression, drinking, smoking, and trains. I mean, come on.

Trains?? Are trains the devil's transportation? I thought the devil preferred the BMW 666i.
posted by amyms at 7:13 PM on August 21, 2007

I'm amused that those preachers aren't railing against country-western music. Adultery, murder, depression, drinking, smoking, and trains. I mean, come on.

Actually, they do. They Sold Their Souls for Rock 'n' Roll actually includes Garth Brooks as part of the Satanic rock/pop conspiracy.
posted by jonp72 at 8:31 PM on August 21, 2007

« Older A Soviet Poster A Day   |   The Butcher Says... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments