Rock Stars Against Religion November 28, 2008

Rock Stars Against Religion

There are 25 entries on this list:

While bands like The Killers and The Jonas Brothers are openly religious, there are many more who either rubbish religion completely or despise everything it stands for. Gigwise takes a look at a collection of bands and music stars who have shunned, mocked or slammed religion either in interviews, through their songs or artwork. Some are atheists, others express mild disapproval and at the other extreme there are anti-religious groups who vehemently slam the church, God and Jesus Christ. Beware, some examples are shocking…

One example:

And the explanation:

In 1991 Chris Cornell and his band Soundgarden released the track ‘Jesus Christ Pose’. While not openly criticising religion itself, the song instead slams people who use religion either for personal gain or claim they are persecuted for their beliefs. The video upped the ante somewhat, including footage of burning crosses, a crucified skeleton and (most shockingly for the Christian right) a woman nailed to the cross.

Some of them are obvious, but many I’d never even heard of before.

(Thank to Jason for the link!)

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  • Patti

    Nice list!

    My favorite group of Obviously Hellbound Unbelievers is Rush, who made major statements of unbelief on the album “Snakes and Arrows”. They’re a bit more on the Friendly Atheist side than the Militant Purveyors of Gore, but the rationality is appealing.

    The music is great, too!

  • Wes

    Jesus Christ Pose is a kick ass song.

    I love me some devil music. I actually like to make compilations of some of my favorite blasphemous music to listen to. As Bill Hicks said, at least Satan fuckin’ jams! 😀

  • “Bow down, bow down!!!

    Bow down to Jesus’ bidding!

    I kid you not, the Lord is not kidding!

    Burn in heaven! Burn in heaven! BURN!”

    -Song from the first episode (by Mark Rivers) of Morel Orel

    Y’know, Soundgarden is an amazing band. But I find it odd that people would put them in the anti-religious box, as I’m sure Chris Cornell is a Catholic. He even shows it in many of the songs he writes, especially on the collaborative “Temple of the Dog” project which was done in dedication to a passed friend. They wrote many of the songs from a religious perspective.

  • Doreen

    I don’t even know if Madonna and Elton John should even be on there, considering Madonna is into that whole Khabbalistic thing and Elton John, recently talking about Prop 8., said he doesn’t believe he has the right to get married.

    Bands that could be added:
    Anders Manga
    Christian Death
    Green Day
    Rob Zombie
    Rozz Williams
    Skinny Puppy
    Type O Negative

  • How about Anti-Flag, AFI, Bad Religion and NOFX?

  • Tim D: Bad Religion is mentioned in the list.

    Most of the bands I don’t care for at all, as I don’t like most death metal or industrial… I do like Chris Cornell’s other band, Audioslave (I just don’t know much of Soundgarden) and I love XTC’s ‘Dear God’.

    I have also detected cool anti-christian/anti-religious themes in Disturbed, Jethro Tull, and Sting.

  • Vincent

    Bad Religion was included in the article.

    But what a crappy article. The author describes the alubm covers and in a couple of instances it’s obvious the author completely misunderstood what is going on in the picture. Sorry, but what an idiot.

    My question though is why did he seem to focus on “death metal” bands? I know there are some folk music singers from the 60s that were anti-religion.

  • Andrew

    While Ed Vedder and the members of Pearl Jam have never definitively said they are atheist or agnostic, many of their songs suggest some of them, if not all, have serious doubts.

    One of my favorite PJ songs is “Do The Evolution”…

    “I’m a thief, I’m a liar.
    There’s my church, I sing in the choir.”

  • Anonymous

    Maynard James Keenan of TOOL and A Perfect Circle bas made some fantastic music. Additionally, some fantastically blasphemous music:
    TOOL – “Opiate”:

    “Choices always were a problem for you.
    What you need is someone strong to guide you.
    Deaf and blind and dumb and born to follow,
    What you need is someone strong to use you… Like me. Like me. If you want to get your soul to heaven, Trust in me. Don’t judge or question.
    You are broken now, but faith can heal you.
    Just do everything I tell you to do.
    Deaf and blind and dumb and born to follow.
    Let me lay my holy hand upon you.
    My gods will becomes me. When he speaks out, He speaks through me. He has needs like I do. We both want to rape you. Jesus Christ, why don’t you come save my life. Open my eyes and blind me with your light. And your lies.”

    A Perfect Circle – “Judith”:

    “You’re such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.
    Oh so many ways for me to show you how your savior has abandoned you.
    Fuck your God, your Lord, your Christ
    He did this, took all you had and left you this way. Still you pray, never stray, never taste of the fruit, never thought to question “why?”
    It’s not like you killed someone.
    It’s not like you drove a hateful spear into his side.
    Praise the one who left you broken down and paralyzed.
    He did it all for you… (x2)
    Oh so many ways for me to show you
    How you dogma has abandoned you.
    Pray to your Christ, to your God
    Never taste of the fruit, never stray, never break, never choke on a lie even though he’s the one who did this to you, you never thought to question “why?”
    It’s not like you killed someone. It’s not like you drove a spiteful spear into his side. Talk to Jesus Christ as if he knows the reasons why… He did it all for you… (x3)”

  • I love the Pearl Jam reference!

    Look up an interview that Vedder did with Janeane Garofalo, and there you will find his stance on religion.

    One band that always confused me though: Black Sabbath. Their third album “Masters of Reality” is obviously pro Christian, while “Vol. 4” is fairly anti-religious. I think Geezer Butler wrote most of Vol. 4, but I still don’t understand the huge flip.

    Both albums are the best Sabbath has done, if you ask me. Masters of Reality showed what true heavy metal pioneers could do: scare the fucking shit out of you.

  • Boštjan

    I would add Coldplay new song viva la vida to this list.

    Just listen to this

  • SarahH


    I think those were clearly chosen for shock value (with the possible example of Lennon, who was probably added for meta-shock value or something, and Elton John).

    There are plenty of excellent artists with multiple songs/albums criticizing religion who didn’t make the list, probably because there weren’t pictures available involving religious symbols + sex/gore.

    Belle and Sebastion and Guster are two of my favorites.

    footnote: I’m not saying that any of the bands listed are bad (haven’t heard many of them), just that the list’s authors clearly weren’t going for subtlety.

  • Soundgarden rocks, as does Chris Cornell. Love that song.

    As for other bands that abhor organized religion, Tool was mentioned above (Maynard is very outspoken about this) and Marilyn Manson (who I have a great deal of respect for). Songs like “The Reflecting God” and the entire “Antichrist Superstar” album delve into the anti-religion theme.

  • Jeff Satterley

    Man, I loved Soundgarden in the early 90’s, one of my favorite bands.

    Speaking of rock bands, I had my iPod on random yesterday and listened to a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers that I completely forgot about, called Shallow Be Thy Game from One Hot Minute. Wasn’t a big fan of the album at the time, (this was when Dave Navarro played guitar for them while Frusciante left the band for a brief period) but I remember liking this song. I didn’t realize what the message of the song was when I was younger, but it is a complete rejection of Christianity.

    The last line of the chorus is “Truth belongs to everybody.” Definitely a skeptic’s anthem if you ask me.

  • Julie

    Streetlight Manifesto is my favorite nonreligious band. “We will fall together,” “Down, Down, Down to Mephisto’s Cafe,” and “Somewhere in the Between” are all wonderfully written, clever songs about the problems with religions.

    I love that their songs aren’t overtly anti-religion. They just find awesome metaphors to hint that religion is wrong, and encourage being a good person over blindly listening to authority.

  • Tao Jones

    Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution” was loosely based on Daniel Quinn’s book, “Ishmael.” At the very least PJ seems to reject organized religion.

    Missing from the list:
    Voltaire for “God Thinks” video (Youtube mashup)

    Sinead O’Connor (wikipedia)

  • Zar

    They forgot Tori Amos. She’s probably less threatening-looking than all the death metal bands, being a nice-looking woman who plays soft music on her piano. But she really rips into Christianity.

    In “Under the Pink”, she has two very blatantly anti-Christian songs: God (“God, sometimes you just don’t come through/Do you need a woman to look after you?”), and Icicle, which is about wanking on Easter Sunday while her family is downstairs praying!
    …”Meeting the monster in our Easter dresses/
    Father says bow your head like the good book says/
    I think the good book is missing some pages/
    Gonna lay down/
    And when my hand touches myself/
    I can finally rest my head/
    And when they say take of his body/
    I think I’ll take from mine instead/
    getting off, getting off while they’re all downstairs/
    Singing prayers, sing away, he’s in my pumpkin PJs/
    Lay your book on my chest, feel the word feel the word”…

    There’s also “Raspberry Swirl” from “Choirgirl Hotel”: “I am not your seniorita/I am not from your tribe/in the garden I did no crime”

  • Ulrich

    Tobias Sammet, of German melodic metal band Edguy (who are one of the most popular bands of their style, though barely known outside of it), has taken on religion several times. With “Avantasia – The Metal Opera” he even created a double concept album whose backstory features a medieval Catholic church as antagonist. His lyrics are usually very unlike the blood and gore of the more extreme metal styles, but occasionally quite graphic, too:

    “The blood of anger and pain,
    ink of the Old Testament.
    I know they’ll end their crusade,
    drown in the blood of the lamb”
    – “Sign of the Cross”

    (The albums are totally awesome, by the way. If you’re not averse to metal, listen to them.)

    Another very remarkable song by him is “Theater of Salvation”, which accuses the church of fear-mongering and rejects religious taboos:

    “Night after night I remember the words of the priest:
    ‘Thou shalt not! Never give in to the promises made by the beast, so help me god!
    Never give in to temptation or you’ll burn in hell a long, long time!
    Forever-eternal salvation is what I can sell if you stay blind!'”

    Interestingly enough, Sammet is apparently not an atheist – he’s thanked “God” in the credits section of some of his albums. It seems his idea of God is not quite the one taught in church, though…

  • jedipunk

    Does anyone remember the song “Give me your money” by the Suicidal Tendencies. That song was the first step in announcing my eventual atheism.

  • I heard of most of those metal bands (via my metal head brother) but I wouldn’t say they’re prototypical “rockstars.” Their genre isn’t really mainstream.

    More mainstream bands that could be added would be:
    Smashing Pumpkins
    Our Lady Peace

    Even Bryan Adams has one song “This side of paradise” in which he criticizes religion.

  • Mathew Wilder

    Depeche Mode also has some pretty great songs that are critical of religion, or show strong skepticism towards it.

  • I’m throwing Incubus into the list. The lead singer, Brandon Boyd, is anti-religious and it’s pretty easy to pick that sentiment up in alot of Incubus songs.

  • Aj

    Filter – Dose:

    I believe in something else
    now go bother someone else
    stick your fingers in your book
    take a better second look
    you crook

    I hate it when you breach my space
    and I hate it when you preach your case
    and you should go down (down)
    save someone else.

    Nine Inch Nails – Heresy

    he sewed his eyes shut because he is afraid to see
    he tries to tell me what I put inside of me
    he got the answers to ease my curiosity
    he dreamed a god up and called it christianity

    god is dead and no one cares
    if there is a hell I’ll see you there

  • Josh

    Metal! Haha, unfortunately most of the metal bands they suggested are pretty boring.

    Good stuff =p

  • Steve

    Hey guys, I’ve heard a rock song once about religion and i liked it a lot, but i don’t know what it’s called and i’m looking for it. The only thing i remember is some words from the lyrics. ”One by One” ”I’ve had enough, had enough, had enough…” and ”otherside”. Does anyone know this song???

  • meestro
  • sss

    Also the British band Keane. In their song Perfect Symmetry they sing “Who are you,what are you living for? Holy Truth? Brother I choose this mortal life lived in perfect symmetry” Later in the song they sing ‘There is no golden gate, there’s no heaven waiting for you”. They have admitted to not following any religion.

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