#693: GUEST SHOT! Rock and Religion by D

A follow up to #657: Operation: Van Halen and #533: Spirituality as a Heavy Metal Fan


GETTING MORE TALE #693: Rock and Religion
Guest post by musician and songwriter D

Rock N’ Roll and Religion. These things, the two capital R’s if you will, were a constant presence growing up. Sometimes I think back on my growing and think how I developed into the person I am now, certainly rock and religion played a part in that. Being raised Christian by a really awesome single mom who also loved classic rock was truly the best of both worlds. She encouraged me to seek out spiritual and musical power in equal measure. She was laid-back and let me just be who I am as I figured life out.

When I became too self-righteous in my religious fervor she’d pull me back and give me a reality check that being a person of faith means being kind and not a judgmental dickhead (which I certainly could be at times). Even as I now am a rather irreligious (i.e. not super orthodox) 27-year-old, I still think the philosophical and theological basis for my life was positive at least in respect to my mother’s teachings.

It also led to some…interesting, shall we say, experiences with two subcultures that tend to clash. While I grew up after the heyday of Tipper Gore and her merry band of fuckwits (the PMRC) persecuting metal musicians, I still felt the aftershocks in the 90s. Couple that with having more hardcore fundamentalist evangelical extended family and friends, and you can bet I have some stories to tell.

I first started to notice the conflict as a 10-year-old when I got into Black Sabbath and some family members suggested I burn the CDs promptly. I’m pretty sure had I agreed they would have built a bonfire in their backyard and eliminated the demonic disc in a flash of fire (as we all know, Satan lives in poorly made CD-Rs burned on a shitty Dell PC). Not sure if the pen fake tattoo of “OZZY” on my knuckles would have also been burned off in the process…but we can’t rule anything out.

Knowing so many religious folks as friends since I went to a Christian high school after leaving public school due to bullying led to some pretty hilarious confrontations. Being a huge Van Halen fan I would get confronted with different accusations. These would range from me being a practitioner of idolatry (must’ve thought I had a shrine to Eddie Van Halen where I burn sage and chant the lyrics to “I’m The One”), to full-blown accusations of Van Halen being satanic (HAIL DAVID LEE ROTH AND HIS MINIONS OF SATAN).

These sorts of conflicts arose with all of the bands I listened to, from AC/DC and Judas Priest, to Iron Maiden and Metallica. I was constantly having to justify my faith and my love of music that involved pounding drums and wailing guitars. The more I became a bit more liberal in my faith I was able to eventually stop caring, but it was an eye-opening experience for me.

Some suggested I listen to more Christian rock bands, which is an odd label; I mean being a musician is a job, do you make sure your plumber is a Christian plumber (on second thought, maybe you do…bless thy toilet and its holy water)? The problem was, while I found some great bands like Pillar and P.O.D. (also U2 writes constantly about God), they were basically shitty imitations of the real thing. I mean if you want Coke, are you really going to drink store-brand cola and think it tastes just as good?

I imagine that this experience is pretty common for kids in certain religious circles and I wonder if they are scared away from either belief or music because of a false dualism being presented. I ain’t a preacher, and I’m definitely no role model, but rock n’ roll in all its forms has been nothing but a positive in my life. Simultaneously, while I eventually walked away from the church and orthodoxy of my faith for personal reasons, at the time, I also benefited from the comfort I could find in the belief of a supernatural being.

I’m reminded of Malcolm Young’s response when asked if AC/DC were Satanists, he humorously stated “me mum would kill me if we were.” The less boundaries we draw for ourselves in these little subgroups the better. I’m not saying we all have to hold hands and sing “We Are The World” (that song is overrated as hell), but you’d be surprised how much you’d have in common with people that seem to run counter to your own worldview. Rock and religion shouldn’t be enemies, and maybe someday they won’t be.

For now, I’ll start on that Church of the Holy Lars Ulrich shrine for human sacrifices and hope for the best.




  1. I grew up in a fairly strict Catholic home. I had to go to church every Sunday.
    When I moved out I stopped going.

    From my personal experience I feel that often religious people are the most homophobic, racist, judgemental, hypocritical people you could ever meet. If a person is the same colour, race, religion and sexual orientation they are accepted. If not, they are looked down on.
    What ever happened to love thy neighbour?

    If there really is a heaven maybe the people who treat everyone with respect will end up there, regardless if they sat in church 1 hour a week.

    As for christian rock/metal, I have found some bands over the years that dispel the myth that Chistian bands are second rate. Kansas, Stryper, Petra, The Daniel Band, Resurrection Band ( I did a review of their Rainbow’s End album and gave it a 9.5/10) to name a few I like.

    Speaking of christian plumbers. Funny enough I have seen work vans/company vehicles/signs/ads etc. with religious sayings on them. Also sports teams, political leanings, secret society symbols etc.
    To me that makes no sense.
    As a business person I want all customers. I do not want a customer to not call me because my ad has a religious saying or because they hate my sports team.


  2. A very interesting article and comment. I am not a fan of heavy metal or the New York Yankee but I would not judge anybody who is. Well, maybe the Yankees fan!
    I too believe that most religious people are the most judgmental people around. Live and let live.
    But speaking of plumbers, I was raised Catholic as well and I knew people who would look for Catholic plumbers, electricians, etc. That made no sense to me. I want the person who will do the best job for the money paid.


  3. I had a Christian upbringing and even worked at a religious summer camp for three summers. Working there actually opened my eyes to rock music. Then the 80s came where you weren’t considered a true Christian unless you destroyed your record collection. That’s when I walked away from it


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