|Christ died so we could write articles on|
“”You're not making Christianity better, you're making rock and roll worse!
|— Hank Rutherford Hill|
“”All we have to do is cross out words like 'baby' and 'darling' and replace them with Jesus
|— Eric Cartman|
Christian rock is a form of rock music where almost the entire focus is on Godbothering lyrics. A lot of rock fans call it boring, lightweight fluff, more interested in pushing a message than making good music - and that just doesn't rock out at all. Some evangelists are even more kill-joy about it, considering it the work of the devil sneaking demonic jungle music into the church.
The origin of Christian rock is murky. In the 1950s and early 1960s, many rock & rollers recorded obligatory Gospel albums on the side. This was not remarkable for the time - many of them came from religious backgrounds, particularly Pentecostal or Baptist, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, the latter of whom was the cousin of Jimmy Swaggart. Later in the 1960s, rock & roll became associated with the counterculture and hippies. Many hippies explored drugs, modern philosophy, eastern religions, radical politics, and experimental modes of living, but some hippies were really into Jesus, man. They became known as the Jesus Freaks or Jesus movement.
Christian rock as we know it today traces back to both to the Jesus movement and to outside attempts by more conventional evangelists like Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel to evangelize youth. Larry Norman is most often mentioned as the first Christian rocker to emerge from the Jesus movement, while a lighter Christian pop style now known as contemporary Christian music (CCM) began around the same time in the stable of groups associated with Chuck Smith and his record label, Maranatha! Music. This stuff was called "Jesus music" back in the day and most of it is really, really bad. Larry Norman (whose albums were released on major labels and recorded in Beatles' producer George Martin's studio) is generally considered the exception. Also worth mentioning is the short-lived attempted cash in on the popularity of Jesus in the early 1970s: Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, songs like "Spirit in the Sky" (which was written by Norman Greenbaum to prove that anyone could write a gospel song) and "Put Your Hand in the Hand".
Soon the counterculture aspects of the Jesus movement faded out entirely, and "Jesus music" became Christian rock and CCM. A lot of it in the late 1970s and 1980s were just bad carbon copies of popular secular bands at the time: the newly born again teenager could chuck out their AC/DC and replace it with a smorgasbord of choices like De Garmo & Key (fake Doobie Brothers), Petra (fake Styx), Don Francisco (fake Jim Croce), Randy Stonehill (fake Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1976, fake Elvis Costello in 1982), Steve Taylor (fake Oingo Boingo) and, um, Bob Dylan (not faking it, unfortunately).  CCM seemed to have come into its own once Amy Grant, Stryper, and Michael W. Smith started having crossover hits on the pop charts.
“”Here was something that sounded worse than genuine rap.
|—P. J. O'Rourke|
In the 1980s this music, formerly rejected in conventional churches, became accepted. However, some cranks like Bob Jones University, Jerry Falwell, and Jack Chick continued to reject any association of rock music with Christianity. Chick went to far as to rely on the loony tall tales of John Todd claiming that Christian rock was invented by Lou Siffer to get demonic music like "Embrace Me, Love of Death" being sung by a band into vampirism into the church. John Todd, a phony "ex-Satanist" turned evangelist, is worth a mention since he claimed he, back in his devil worship days, personally gave a huge check from the Illuminati to Chuck Smith to launch Maranatha! Music. Bob Larson was another opponent who later changed his mind and started promoting Christian rock to callers on his "Talk-Back" radio show. David Wilkerson was a supporter until changing his mind and turning against Christian rock after being shocked — shocked! — to see Christian metal bands wearing studded leather which is of course associated with BDSM (and therefore according to Wilkerson, demonic possession).
Secular music listeners, meanwhile, tuned much of it out. In the '80s and '90s a common (and not entirely unfounded) stereotype emerged that Christian rock and CCM were the poor man's substitute for secular pop and rock, trading musicianship and songwriting quality for Hallmark schmaltz and references to Jesus and other biblical elements. Even today, the Christian bands that have been best able to break into the mainstream, like Creed, P.O.D., Flyleaf, and Underoath, have been those that have turned down the overt religious elements and written about secular subject matter in addition to Christian material.
It's still around today, but nobody cares. Now that the novelty wore off long ago, it's just more bland product for the megachurch McChristianity market.
 Selling out
Many rock musicians are openly Christian without being part of CCM - U2 are one of the most famous examples (and their music is therefore considered acceptable to many CCM fans). However, such bands often go well out of their way to avoid the "Christian rock" label, as it is a kiss of death to secular listeners - kids who listen to CCM do so because they grew up in a household with evangelicals pushing the stuff. Other artists exist who openly profess a Christian faith but distance themselves from CCM because of American evangelicalism's association with conservative politics, one example being Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn, whose politics run to the left.
Christian rock fans are as rabidly anti-success as any hipster, metalhead or indie kid, condemning CCM artists selling any records outside the scene as undoubtedly "secularised" and corrupted by the love of money. CCM bands with crossover talent often have to actively disassociate from the genre to achieve wider success, e.g. Evanescence, who went out of their way to avoid being labelled a "Christian rock" group. Evanescence's (mostly CCM) label went so far as to have their records pulled from Christian stores, to avoid backlash towards their other acts, after the band started denying being a "Christian Rock" group.
Mind you, the CCM fans are still scrabbling for evidence that Katy Perry - who, before she proudly sang of kissing a girl and liking it, recorded a CCM album as 15-year-old Katy Hudson - is a deeply sincere and devout Christian who will come back to CCM, gosh darn it. Marrying Russell Brand (in a Hindu ceremony, no less) and going all but naked (but technically not indecent) on the cover of Rolling Stone are obviously dog whistles to the adoring CCM fan base.
 See also
- Papyrus, a favoured font on the CD covers
- P.O.D - Alive - Sometimes they can rock quite hard, if you don't listen too closely to the lyrics, which would make most freethinkers facepalm.
- ↑ The Christian Century: Bob Jones University questions 'fundamentalist' label
- ↑ Fortunately, this only lasted for three albums before he got involved in the Chabad Lubavitch strain of Hasidic Judaism.
- ↑ Chick, Jack T. "Angels?" (tract)
- ↑ Hicks, Darryl, The Todd Phenomenon: Ex-Grand Druid vs. the Illuminati, Fact or Phantasy?, New Leaf Press, 1979
- ↑ Wilkerson, David, "Confessions of a Rock Hater" (tract), Last Days Ministries, 1982
- ↑ Wilkerson, David: Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth, World Challenge, 1985, p. 84-117
- ↑ See: the South Park episode "Christian Rock Hard".
- ↑ Or, as TV Tropes describes it, "Not Christian Rock"; i.e. music that incorporates religious/spiritual elements but rarely if ever includes overt Christian material.
- ↑ http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NotChristianRock - WARNING: TV Tropes will ruin your life
- ↑ "And I have no religion, and I don't know what's what..." Acceptable now, CCM fans?
- ↑ Bruce Cockburn: Still Wondering Where the Lions Are
- ↑ http://new.music.yahoo.com/evanescence/news/evanescence-interview-ignites-christian-music-controversy--12047846
- ↑ Katy Hudson - Faith Won't Fail (ca. 2001) - Arguably musically better, but not as weapons-grade-earworm catchy as her later pop career.
- ↑ Which she does appear to be, although she's rejected her pastor parents' fundamentalism.
- ↑ This, however, is unlikely.