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Metal Vicar Rachel Mann: Why Jesus Would Have Been A Pussy Riot Fan
Rev Rachel Mann , August 17th, 2012 13:41

As Pussy Riot begin their two year prison sentence, lady of both the cloth and the rock the Rev. Rachel Mann gives a Christian critique of the actions of the Russian Orthodox Church

The world is full of idiotic and inexplicable things: Geordie Shore, One Direction and the ongoing success of the Daily Mail. However, from the perspective of many lovers of rock & roll, perhaps there is nothing as crass, small-minded and anti-progressive as religion, and specifically Christianity. The two year sentence for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” handed down to Fem-Punk outfit Pussy Riot is only the latest example of what many will perceive as Christianity’s fear of Rock. After all, from the moment Elvis wiggled his hips in a suggestive manner c1955 and Southern Baptists swooned in distress, the relationship between popular music and Christianity has so often been portrayed as antagonistic, one might reasonably be permitted to yawn.

Clearly examples abound and they are almost too tedious to be listed. Everyone knows how Lennon’s off-hand remark suggesting that The Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” led to album burnings by the Christian Right. Equally, the absurd manoeuvres of the Parental Music Resource Center, a US Christian lobby group in the 1980s, underlined the apparent ‘conflict’ between Christianity and Rock/Metal’s ambitions. They portrayed rock and metal acts as a threat to the young and to Christian values, leading to Tipper Gore’s (Al Gore’s other half) notorious list of 15 ‘acts’ categorized (bizarrely) as ‘Porn Rock’. Acts on this list included Madonna, Mercyful Fate, W.A.S.P and, I’m not making this up, Cyndi Lauper. To the joy of bands and record companies alike, record sales rocketed, especially as the PMRC was buying LPs specifically so it could burn them. If the PMRC was essentially a group of absurd ‘Washington Moms’ backed up by their politician husbands one of the key effects of their campaigning is the existence of parental advisory labels on ‘offensive’ records. Rock & roll lovers – instinctively wishing to side with the outsider, the rebel and the revolutionary – have got an awful lot of evidence to show that Christianity is the religious face of ‘The Man’ who wants to stifle our human spirit, creativity and desire to be free.

The treatment of Pussy Riot is just one symptom of a deeper malaise demonstrated over and over again: that Christianity is the enemy of all right-thinking people. Consider, for example, the famously embarrassing encounter in 1979 between Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark and two members of Monty Python over the blasphemous content of The Life of Brian. The very worst of the matter was that the self-styled “defenders of Christianity” hadn’t even bothered to see the film; watching their feeble attempts to prove the innate nastiness of the film only gets worse with each viewing. Equally there were protests about Jerry Springer the Musical, although they emerged less from the bosom of the National Church, but from a marginal, if noisy pressure group called Christian Voice. Others will cite Church responses to the caricatures of Muhammed published in 2005 by Jyllands-Posten as examples of its antipathy to free speech. The then Bishop of Oxford, the Rt. Revd. Richard Harries, said that newspapers that decided not to publish the cartoons had acted wisely. He told The Sunday Times: ‘Freedom of speech is fundamental to our society, and all religions need to be open to criticism, but this freedom needs to be exercised responsibly with a sensitivity to cultural differences’.

I’ve spent a huge part of my life involved in three different things: firstly, listened to and loving rock music, often of an extreme and brain-curdling nature; secondly, being a Christian disciple and then a vicar and finally...

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