Embarrassing Confessions of My Christian Past

Wow, this is embarrassing. JT Eberhard brought back some very cringe worthy memories from my Christian childhood.  Does anyone remember this song?

Because I do. In fact, I was a big fan of it and played it over and over for a long time. I even had ideas for creating my own video to go along with it. (Yes, I was that awkward as a kid.) I almost don’t want you to watch it. Just take my word on how bad & embarrassingly tacky it is.

In my defense, this was a long time ago. But it does go to show how much can change with time. I used to be that annoying kid who talked about god too much and wanted to share religious stories with people who’d let me. Now I’m a board member with Seattle Atheists and a contributor here.

Changing minds takes time but it does happen. Keep that in mind when you’re talking to fervent believers. Don’t just call them names or tell them they’re stupid. Hear where they’re coming from, play to what they care about, and plant questions in their minds like seeds of reason. Many won’t germinate but some will. Super religious people become atheist activists often enough that they’re worth the investment of our time.

About Ericka M. Johnson

As a lover of science and reason, Ericka M. Johnson has an affinity for evolutionary biology and is the president of Seattle Atheists. She revels in any opportunity for a thoughtful debate on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything (especially over a pint.) Follow her on twitter @ErickaMJohnson

  • http://www.facebook.com/BillionsBillions Zach Vogt

    You must’ve seen the video for “Satan, Bite the Dust” then. More hilarious, less frightening. 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_UO8wlZymM

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Hilarious, oh yes, very. I guess they weren’t worried about being mistaken for a Poe back then, it’s that bad.

      The comments, however are not for the faint of heart.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        From the comment section: First time seeing the music video and it was awesome! Not only awesome, but educational and inspirational that it gives people a message that Satan can control all of our lives that we needed the salvation of Jesus to fight Satan and be free from sin.

        • IndyFitz

           You’d think Jesus would just track Satan down and kick his ass but good.  If he did, we wouldn’t have to worry!  He must not because Satan is too powerful for God.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Thanks for the laugh.

  • Fargofan

    “Changing minds takes time but it does happen.” My mind was changed like that. People used to call me a Bible thumper – now one of my sisters worries that I’m going to hell. It’s ironic.

    • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

      Same here. And during the process I really, really wanted to keep believing in god. What seems to go over many atheist’s heads is the long term ramifications of indoctrination. No one ever talks about it. They just insist that believers are stupid. This is not helpful nor does it work. Neither does putting Jesus down. 

      What worked for me was the little questions. Christians are the only ones going to Heaven, really? Is the God of the OT moral? How do starving and suffering children give god glory? Why does he get the credit for anything good and you get the blame for anything bad? Is prayer just a form of magical thinking? If Satan was overcome by the Resurrection, then why is religion so fear based? Why am I not allowed to ask questions on all of the above?

      To overcome indoctrination firmly held beliefs must be gently chipped away at. For some it just takes a couple of questions. For others, like me, it took years.

      • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

         Amen to that.

        Couldn’t resist. :)   Seriously though, I completely agree.  There was a point in my life I considered entering the convent.  I found such peace in prayer that I wanted the rest of my life devoted to God.

        For me, the first baby step was allowing myself to question aspects of my faith.  I thought, “My intellect is a gift from God; surely he wouldn’t hold it against me if I used it.”  When doubt itself is considered sinful, it’s tough to break free from the chains of religion, and it took several years for rationality to finally take over.

        Baby steps!

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I’ve never heard the song (and couldn’t force myself to get more than halfway through the video). I’ve never heard of the “artist”. And even if the lyrics were different, I could never have liked this music.

    Guess I had a deprived youth.

  • Guest

    Don’t feel bad.  I look back at some of the things I bought into or thought was so hip as a young agnostic in my college days and cringe just the same.  It’s called growing older.  Why, there was even I time I thought John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ was profound.  I know, hard to believe.   Until I realized there was this multi-zillionaire superstar celebrity sitting in a sprawling multi-million dollar estate, looking into the camera and asking everyone else if they could imagine no possessions, wondering if *they* could.  Then the absurdity set in.  But again, I was young and foolish, so what are you going to do?

  • Rickster

    I used to play Christian rock music around this same time period so I am familiar with both Petra and Carman. I was a fan of Petra; but Carman not so much. You make a good point Ericka about just planing seeds. From my experience telling people they are wrong just makes them want to believe it more. But carefully planting seeds of reason can help bring them see the truth down the road if/when they begin the doubt their religious upbringings.

  • Brandon Fayer

    AGGH! that is truly cringe worthy. I liked the interracial make-out, Abomination!

  • Guest

    Is it my paranoia to think that the couple shown making out by the lockers being interracial was very much on purpose?  I’m guessing that taking prayer out of schools not only caused heavy doses of promiscuity but also pushed kids of different ethnic backgrounds together?  As a former Christian, I seem to recall other Christians being a lot less accepting of people of various races being together than you would assume for such “loving” followers of the lord.  

    This post brought back a lot of memories for me too.  This group was a little before my time, but I can clearly remember blasting “Jesus Freak” in my bedroom….probably daily.  I guess we all have mortifying memories from our teen years, right?

    • Guest

      Or who knows?  Maybe they were tryint to make a point that it was OK.  What you think of their motives probably suggests a lot about what you think of Christians in general, since there is no other information we have about why it was included.

      • viddy_well

        Here are the lyrics straddling the scene in question, i.e., the “other information” you say we don’t have:

        Free love, gay rights, no absolutes, abortion on demand
        Brought VD, AIDS, and no morality
        Today no one knows right from wrong

        Yeah, it totally seems like they were trying to say it was OK.

        • Guest

          Well yeah, from the Christian/traditional religious POV, heading toward sex outside of marriage is going to be wrong everytime.  But there is nothing to suggest it was any secret little jab at any racial message – other than there is nothing wrong with it in itself.

          • jdm8

            That clip might have still been a bit scandalous at the time for the race aspect. It wasn’t until 1991 that more US citizens accept interracial marriage vs. wanted it banned. Even as late as last year, 10% of the Evangelicals still thought it was wrong, which was the highest of any demographic.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      I doubt they were trying to say anything. Towards the end they show black kids and white kids praying together.
      There are plenty of racist Christians out there, but it’s not nearly as popular as homophobia is. DC Talk actually wrote a lot of songs fighting racism. 

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        I used to love DC Talk. I’m pretty sure I tossed out my CD’s of them some time ago though.

    • Baby_Raptor

      I still give DC Talk a relisten every now and then. I went to every concert of theirs I could back in the day, and I was heartbroken when they split up. 

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Heaven Bound was one of my favorite tunes back in the day.

  • Liberated Liberal

    I used to listen to Carmen as a young Catholic.  Well, my mom played it anyway.  I never heard this song, though.  Hilarious!

  • solu

    I liked the part with the interracial make out, that must have really drove people crazy.  

  • Stan

    What horrible, horrible music!  Never mind the empty-headed message of Christ-insanity!  You SHOULD be embarrassed!

  • RobMcCune

    What year was this? I’m pretty sure the “religious apartheid” line at 2:52 was even more offensive back then.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I just read Doug Philips’s “The Bad People Stole My God”, where he describes his struggle to hold onto his ebbing religion.  As someone who never had it I sympathize (but gladly don’t empathize) with those who did.  I understand it’s freeing to be free of it, but it is a ‘loss’ none the less, and the process can’t be easy.

  • Marco

    Never heard of these guys at all. Amazing. For the time the production values weren’t that bad either. The music was awful, but actually pretty professionally done. 
    For me, born and raised in Europe bu living in the US for over 30 years, finding these tidbits of hidden culture is like discovering that Superman’s “Bizarro world” was real after all.

    One more thing: I did some commercial work as a kid and I suppose music video work isn’t that different. I wonder how much hanky panky was going  on among the extras of the video during production. Maybe not as much as in secular productions, but I assure you, some was going on.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I watched the entire video and laughed most of the time. The crazy 80′s, how I miss those days.

  • moother

    a few  things:

    1) you’d think that god could fight his own battles and doesn’t need help from embarrassing pseudo rock bands.
    2) he of the all-seeing, all-knowing could have predicted the SCOTUS’ judgement.
    3) do any of you have even the slightest idea what Apartheid was?
    4) “you begin to see the church arise,” made me lol.

    bye bye church… don’t forget to tithe on your way out…

  • Ibis3

    Changing minds takes time but it does happen. Keep that in mind when
    you’re talking to fervent believers. Don’t just call them names or tell
    them they’re stupid.

    Sometimes calling names and telling people they’re stupid works. Changed my mind.

    • Alice

      Ditto

    • jdm8

      Sometimes it backfires too, so it’s not something that should be done carelessly.

  • Andrew Sherwood

    Very good point Ericka! We must  remember that people can change and they are more receptive to our ideas if we say them with a smile!

  • Paul D.

    Carman’s lyrics and theology range the gamut from insipid to batshit crazy, but I gotta say, I still love Petra. My “first love” in rock music, so to speak.

  • Keulan

    Well I already watched that video earlier tonight, and I feel no desire to subject my eyes and ears to that awfulness again. Fred Clark on Slacktivist has a blog post about it, among other things.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jt.eberhard JT Eberhard

    I, too, was that awkward kid who talked about god too much.  ;)