CREED — ‘My Sacrifice’
P.O.D. — ‘Alive’

Oh, these dastardly bastards, trying to poison the airwaves with their Christian values and their holier-than-thou righteousness. Listen to that Scott Stapp, singing about a SACRIFICE (just like a certain son of a Certain Someone did a couple of years ago). Or even P.O.D. — ‘I feel so alive / For the very first time / I can’t deny you’ — shouldn’t that be, ‘I can’t deny You’? According to this ILM thread, such actions brand these missionaries as ‘stealth Christian rockers’ — they pull you in with their grunge hooks and their lighter-fueled grandeur, seduce you with the promise of freedom and flight and BAM! down comes the Bible on your heretical little head, and soon enough you’re chained to the altar, drinking blood and eating flesh with the rest of those closet-hiding Pagans.

In the grand scheme of things, this sort of chicanery is no more insidious than the sort of Christianity casually offered up in other sections of life. Such praise and prayers have been inescapable, especially since the destruction of the World Trade Center. Kids in school pledge allegiance to one nation, under God, indivisible (or, at least, they did once upon a time). As an American, God supposedly blesses my home sweet home a whole helluva lot. Before any athlete worth an endorsement deal plans their trip to the Magic Kingdom, a shout out to the Man Upstairs is required. And I damn God more often that I should (especially since I pride myself on being an atheistic agnostic, or an agnostic atheist — depends on whether I’m drinking regular or decaf). Clearly, God IS Everywhere, and don’t be misled into thinking it’s not the WASP-looking God, either, lest thou wish to feel the fury of multiple Skechers & Doc Martens on thy booty.

There’s plenty of music being produced in the name of the Lord. You can’t step into a department store or a supermarket without hearing a song from an artist that’s given props to God. Of course, if the artist in question is making their dough talking about things (or doing) decidedly non-Christian — well, that’s the sort of stuff best kept for the confessional. Also, there are notable outfits working under the public radar (such as Low and the Danielson Familie) honoring their deities in the public eye (even if their songs don’t specifically reference that deity at all times). That’s all fine and good – you know where they stand, and can gauge their intentions on those terms. And then there are the accursed Christian Music outfits, dressing up the weekly sermon in the clothes of what’s thought to be pop. Yet another way to appeal to an audience prone to using Sunday morning as the perfect time to honor their need for sleep. (I doubt those movies starring Kirk Cameron are putting fannies in the pews.) While imitation isn’t a sin, such Xeroxing should be considered blasphemous.

But are these secretively Christian groups really a ‘danger’? How many impressionable people are really going to get ‘sucked in’ by the supposed dogma infesting these songs by Creed & P.O.D. (& Lifehouse, & maybe Michelle Branch, & tons of other folks), outside of those people (like us critics) LOOKING for signs of such half-assed brainwashing? With a little elbow grease and a whole lot of stubbornness, almost any pop song can turn into a hymn. (Take some Britney Spears singles, for instance – ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’? ‘Sometimes’? It’s so obvious!) Pull out the reflective, faceless lyrics, and you have music striving for the same sort of release that’s been sought by groups of all walks of faith, from Nine Inch Nails performing a hasty autopsy on the Almighty to Norman Greenbaum’s sky spirit. It’s convenient to forget that the blues dealt with Heaven just as much as Hell; even in the 21st century, that deal struck at the crossroads still hangs over the head of any person speaking their mind. Using the standard rock bombast associated with the Devil to say a few words about the Lord might superficially seem like an interesting turn of events, but it’s not at all surprising.

Who’s to say that the surreptitious crusade of Creed & other like-minded bands is any different or less worthy of consideration? What about the righteous path of destruction taken by folks like Limp Bizkit, or the non-committal secular pursuits offered via dance music, or even those crusty punk rockers setting their sights on the roads less traveled? They’re all seeking salvation, they’re all looking for answers, and they’ve all found their own way to deal with life and death and the birds and the bees. Religion’s been sold to folks many times before, in different forms and shapes. Caveat emptor; hopefully, they’ll make the right choice.

Of course, you’re welcome to disagree.