Sunday, March 25, 2007

Punks, Posers, and Jesus

Today's Dallas Morning News features a front page article describing something that has bothered me for many years: the rise of "alternative lifestyle" evangelical churches throughout the country and, in this case, celebrating one in particular in Dallas, Deliverance Bible Church. These churches target different groups, there are many in gay communities, hip-hop communities, and metal communities. This one particularly targets the punk crowd, which tends to have the most intimidating appearance of the groups. Through music, faith-based body art, and a brashness of attitude, this church has grown significantly since its inception, bringing mainstream outcasts into the fold to, somehow, celebrate their faith in a way they can feel good about. The church performs a lot of charity work, which is a good thing, and I can appreciate that these people want to worship their way, but there's an inherent problem. The traditional message of the punk community has little to do with music, tattoos, piercings, and haircuts, and more to do with attitude and individualism.

What this kind of church does is pretend to celebrate this individualism, all the while easing the parishoners into a conformist bliss. It's a costume; underneath the mohawk and behind the body modifications is a manipulative dogmatist who, when church leader Pastor Cleetus was first coming into his own as a preacher " his early 20s, he would go to underground punk concerts night after night and look out upon a sea of lost faces. He felt like a shepherd gazing at his flock of black sheep." Given the sometimes militant nature of punks and their principles, and the overwhelming "straight edge" movement, there something that tells me that punks don't need your help. People may think that they're scary jerks, but they have principles, something the Christian community may want to think about. A wolf in sheep's clothing is no less a wolf. An evangelical blowhard in punk's clothing is nothing but a poser.

My favorite quote from the piece comes from Mr. Warren, a higher-up in the church, who says "Even before I was a Christian, I was bold. But when I became a Christian, God stepped that up a notch." That, my friends, is poser talk.