Why Should You Care About What the Church Cares About Katy Perry’s Approach to Religion?

church as judge cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Church as Judge” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

I came across Candi Finch’s post yesterday, Why Should You Care About Katy Perry’s Approach to Religion?. I want to thank her for her contribution to this very important discussion. When I started reading her post I was hopeful because she obviously cares about young people and has done her research. She even says, “Before you dismiss what she (Katy Perry) says…” which I found encouraging because too often the opinions of stars like Katy Perry concerning spirituality are ignored or ridiculed. She also claims that there are Katy Perrys in our churches, indicating to me that Finch is compassionate, culturally aware, intelligent and not judgmental. Finch agrees with the research, as do I, that the reason so many young people are leaving the church is because “young adults wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity and that the church appears to be unfriendly to those who doubt.” Finch is an assistant professor of theology and is getting a PhD in systematic theology. So, that along with her compassion for young people and her cultural awareness, I look forward to hearing from her in the future about this crisis the church faces.

But then her post takes a strange turn that surprised and disappointed me, but is typical of the church, because she nearly said what needed to be said but retreated back into official policy. I felt the need to contribute to her discussion in hopes of providing another and hopefully helpful perspective. She blames pluralism (all religions have equal value and contain some measure of truth), and syncretism (we can appropriate these values and truths from wherever we find them and apply them to our lives). Her solution is familiar: preachers should preach the purity and exclusivity of Christianity clearer and young adults need to believe it harder. In other words, true Christianity alone is the way and you shouldn’t doubt it. Unfortunately, Finch’s solution reinforces the problem.

So I’ve composed a list of reasons why we really should care about Katy Perry’s approach to religion. Here they are:

  1. Having been there, she knows what she’s talking about.
  2. Scare tactics such as Hell no longer control her.
  3. Reward tactics such as Heaven no longer entice her.
  4. Belief for her must not be intellectually offensive.
  5. She claims her action, therefore social responsibility, is important.
  6. She was willing to risk the support of her parents to find her way.
  7. She will appreciate and appropriate truth where she finds it.
  8. The concept of blessing or curse depending on church membership doesn’t apply.
  9. She feels no need to belong to a church in order to be spiritual.
  10. Her spiritual health and independence is her responsibility, not the church’s.
Again, I thank Finch for her contribution to this discussion and hope we can continue to humbly try to get closer to being honest about the church’s problems and more courageous about finding meaningful solutions.

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  • klhayes

    I love that list and I am glad that I don’t have to risk the support of my parents. What I also find interesting is that while her parents condemn her “sinful ways” they have no problem hob-nobbing with the stars she interacts with and definitely drop her name to get notoriety.

  • dougmullin

    Love Katy Perry. Love that she is more relevant to me than official churchdom. Love her songs, even when they get overplayed by commercial radio. Thanks for being The Naked Pastor, a Katy Perry in your own right, relevant in all the right ways, irreverent at the right times.

  • A. Humblist

    “They may call us meek, but I say that those that profess to know the mind of God are arrogant.”

  • Some are comfortable with the walls of dogma, the rich rituals of tradition and the certainty of set theology. They feel safe there. To them there is no need for anything else.

    . Then there’s people like Katy, and myself, who feel constricted, restricted and trapped in that exact same setting. We are always looking, asking, wondering.

    Cannot God work with both? Of course.

  • Mark

    I read Finch’s post, and I see what you mean. It took a turn I wasn’t exactly expecting. It’s amazing how arrogantly people cling to the belief that God only spoke to one group – theirs. And worse, that the Jews couldn’t get the meanings of their own scriptures right, and it took the Christians to properly reinterpret them.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I may abuse that quote, but who said it?

  • DrowsyChaperone

    I certainly don’t think that Mary and Keith Hudson condemn Katy’s ways in any way. Condemnation is a very strong act that involves the complete disapproval of something, which based on what they themselves have said about their own daughter, is not true. The reason why her parents are often seen interacting with other celebrities is because Katy loves them and they love Katy, and they therefore want to be with each other. They namedrop Katy in their sermons just as much…if not less than they do their other children, Angela and David. Please. Don’t bash people you don’t even know.

  • klhayes