Before evangelical males went after Taylor Swift, they hated on Amy Grant

This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on May 3, 2024.

“There is a difference between being secular and being ANTI-CHRISTIAN,” wrote Shane Pruitt, National Next Gen director for the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. The anti-Christian culprit he had in mind was not one of the many examples of male church leaders in Southern Baptist churches who abuse Christ by abusing “the least of these.” Instead, the mocker, according to Pruitt, is none other than Taylor Swift.

“I used to listen to Taylor, HOWEVER, I think now it’s time to reconsider,” Pruitt lamented. “As Christians, who are filled with the Spirit should we be entertained by, sing with, and expose our kids to lyrics that aren’t just different than what you believe, but are actually mocking what you believe?”

Pruitt is hardly alone in his criticism of Swift in the wake of her most recent album, The Tortured Poets Department. Christian nationalist worship leader Sean Feucht fussed: “Almost half the songs on Taylor Swift’s new album contain explicit lyrics (E), make fun of Christians and straight up blaspheme God. Is this the music you want your kids listening to?”

In addition to complaining about Swift, Feucht is also cashing in on her popularity by selling a “Jesus Christ: The Eras Tour” T-shirt on his website that looks identical to Swift’s Eras Tour T-shirt.

The popular Christian entertainment review website Movieguide jumped on the bandwagon as well, accusing Swift of mocking the power of prayer, denying God can change people, denying Christian sexual ethics, bashing Christians who evangelize, and practicing occult worship. With much of their review focusing on sexuality, they conclude: “The fact that one of the most popular and famous celebrities of her generation cannot find happiness reveals that living in the world leads to death while living for Christ and under his teachings leads to life. Unfortunately, Swift has chosen the path toward death and is reaping the fruits of her labor.”

Continuing the ‘Holy war’ 

This isn’t the first time this year conservatives have been miffed at Swift. In JanuaryRolling Stone reported some of Donald Trump’s campaign staff had declared preemptive “holy war” against her out of fear she might endorse Joe Biden in the upcoming election. Because Swift is dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, conservative conspiracy theorists suggested perhaps the NFL season was rigged to help the Chiefs win in order to give Swift more air time during Chiefs games with the goal of promoting Biden.

Four months later, Swift still has not publicly endorsed Biden for the 2024 election. But if the conservatives from January were serious about waging a pre-emptive holy war against Swift, then perhaps the current panic is an ongoing part of their war for power.

In any case, the story here is not about analyzing Swift’s lyrics to figure out if she is an occult worshiper who hates Christians. And the bigger story is not even about Christian nationalists waging a holy war against Swift during a presidential election.

“Conservative Christians are treating Swift the same way they’ve been treating female CCM pop stars since the 1970s.”

What’s really going on here is that conservative Christians are treating Swift the same way they’ve been treating female CCM pop stars since the 1970s.

Saving the kids and the nation from sex, drugs and hell

In her book God Gave Rock and Roll to You: A History of Contemporary Christian Music, historian Leah Payne shares how the Contemporary Christian Music movement grew amidst the fear that “hippies” were a “threat to American society.”

Parents were especially concerned because, as David Wilkerson warned in 1967, the hippies were sending young people “straight to hell.”

Leah Payne

Additionally, the growing obsession with Christian Zionism, the rapture and the end times during the 1970s made these concerns even more urgent.

In order to save their kids and the nation from hell and the Tribulation, evangelical parents reluctantly began to give in to the music of the Jesus Movement and eventually the CCM movement in hopes their kids and the nation would submit to their view of abstinence from sex and drugs.

“If everything went according to plan, young men would be faithful providers and leaders of their household. Young women would be nurturing keepers of the home — and under no circumstances would they be feminists,” Payne explains. “Together, they would guarantee a preferable, prosperous future for the nation.”

CCM’s Barbie and Ken

While evangelicals had classes, books and even horror movies to promote submission to their theology, Payne suggests that “concrete examples of young people who embodied those evangelical norms were even better.”

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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