For so many popular artists, their music is inherently political. Some singers are very explicit about that, and some have been punished due to their outspokenness. Contemporary Christian musicians are no different.
But what happens when you have a fan base that includes many supporters of Donald Trump? That’s a problem currently facing those Christian musicians: Do they openly reject his “un-Christian” actions through their lyrics? If they do, their fans may turn on them a la The Dixie Chicks. If they don’t, they’ll be called cowards.
In an article for CNN, John Blake says that many of them have chosen to remain silent rather than risk alienation.
“There are ton of a people who think that the most relevant, extreme message you can give in times like this is to stop being hateful and love other people,” says Dan Keen, who teaches students about the music business at Belmont University in Nashville.
Keen believes that just because most CCM artists don’t hammer Trump or his immigration policies doesn’t mean they’re Christian copouts. Many of these artists are involved in charitable causes and other ministries that people ignore, says Keen, who has worked at a Christian music label and served on the GMA’s board of directors.
There’s an argument to be made that everyone should stay in their lanes of expertise: If you sing, focus on singing. If you play an instrument, focus on your guitar. Leave the political commentary to those who study it for a living.At the same time, who is more qualified to reach conservative Christians than other conservative Christians? If someone has a platform of tens of thousands of people (if not more), aren’t you obligated to use it for good? Why not speak out against corruption and evil?
Some artists rationalize their silence with the Bible.
[Singer Tauren] Wells, who is also a minister, is a biracial man who has talked about being racially profiled on social media. But he follows the 11th commandment of CCM: Stay away from politics.
“When you talk about politics, the air leaves the room,” says the singer, whose crossover appeal is so broad he has opened for Lionel Richie. “It just automatically goes negative when we forget that there is so much positive stuff happening as well. But we also forget that our hope as believers is not invested in an earthly kingdom, or a governmental system. It really doesn’t matter as much for me who’s in office because I don’t serve at the pleasure of the President. I serve at the pleasure of the King [Christ].”
Of course, plenty of other Christians also use the Bible to support the position that they should speak up. In the 20th century alone, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have been hailed as martyrs precisely for their refusal to submit to governing authorities.
There’s no right or wrong way to go about the pursuit of justice, necessarily. But we know that history tends not to be kind to those who stand by and do nothing. What’s the use of a large platform if you don’t use it for good?