John Cooper, the frontman and bassist for the Grammy-nominated Christian rock band SKILLET, has weighed in on last month’s Dove Awards controversy, concerning several Christian musicians who appeared dressed in drag.
Former CAEDMON’S CALL singer-songwriter Derek Webb went to the October 17 Christian music awards show in a dress, alongside openly queer Christian artist Semler, and drag queen Flamy Grant. Webb also posted a picture of the trio on social media with the caption, “54th annual dove awards, here we come.”
Speaking to One America News Network, Cooper said: “Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is this: we know that God promises if we repent, cry out to God, he will heal our land. The bad news is, as everybody knows, America really is on the verge of destruction. And I believe that that destruction is because the Christian church ain’t acting like the Christian church.
“So I’ve been ringing this bell in Christian music for a long time,” John continued. “There is a lot of compromise in Christian music, just like there’s a lot of compromise in Christianity in general. But I wanna be very, very fair. I don’t think that the Doves actually hosted them. I don’t think they invited them. I don’t think they approved of it. I think it’s just tickets — anybody can get tickets and come. So I wanna say that about the Doves. I don’t think that’s what’s going on. However, the industry is not doing a good job on clarity on what is it that we are willing to say is okay and what we are willing to say that’s actually not okay and it’s time for us to kind of separate ways. And I say that ’cause as we speak, some of the biggest Christian worship singers in the world, as we speak, have posted things that are publicly pro-choice. They’ve publicized candidates who are pro-choice, pro-abortion, sexual stuff on socials. We’ve seen lots of confusing and/or affirming stances on LGBT from worship leaders, pro-BLM people, things like that. In my new book, I even give a few names. One of the ones I found the most egregious is a worship singer who chastised Christians for calling, quote-unquote, Lia Thomas, who is a trans-identifying, biological male swimmer, he said, ‘If you call him a man, you are being hateful. God is going to judge you for this.’
“So what you’re dealing with right now is the fact that a lot of Christian musicians, the industry, are so very confused about what the Bible says,” Cooper added. “And I just wanna say to that worship artist, actually, you’re the one being hateful by confusing the world. You’re the one being hateful by rejecting God’s created order and calling something that is righteous wickedness and wickedness something that is righteous. Isaiah warns us of this. ‘Woe to those who trade good for evil and evil for good.’ We have a lot of work we need to do in the industry.”
Two days after the awards show, Webb defended his choice of attire in a video post.
“As a cis, straight, white man, I walk into a room like that and any room with an incredible amount of advantage and privilege,” Webb explained. “If I’m attending as an ally of friends and colleagues, I should do everything possible to surrender that privilege at the door.”
Webb continued: “If the way you look at my loved ones isn’t the way you’re looking at me, I’m not truly standing with them.”
Webb and Flamy Grant both have publicly supported the LGBTQ+ community while navigating successful Christian music careers. Flamy Grant is an openly queer man who often dresses in drag.
Grant has previously said: “I’m a singing/songwriting drag queen named after arguably the most successful Christian artist of all time.”
In various interviews over the years, Cooper has said that he “always had faith in God” and that his mother was a “Jesus fanatic.” He also claimed that he was willing to put his career on the line to take a stand for Christ.
In 2021, Cooper was asked by the “Undaunted.Life: A Man’s Podcast” what he would say to someone who says that Satan works through rock music, and thus Christians shouldn’t play rock music. He responded: “I would say Satan can work through just about anything. I would say that music is created not by the Devil; [it is] created by the Lord. All things were created by God. So instead of thinking that the Devil owns a genre of music, I would say capture that music and bring it back into subjection under the lordship of Christ.”
As for what he would say to someone who says it is sinful for Christians to have tattoos, Cooper said: “I understand why Christians think that, because of the Old Testament. I would say it probably takes a little bit of a longer explanation of Old Testament law and what it meant. But a short version would be there are some things in the Old Testament that were a picture of something in the New Testament. There are some things that are not pictures, like murder — we don’t murder, we don’t steal, so and so forth. Dietary restrictions, things like that, were a picture of something.
“Here’s what God wanted: God wants to make his people set apart and holy unto his name,” he continued. “And I don’t think that God does that any longer from the way that we look; he does that now because of Christ’s work on the cross, his resurrection, and he sanctifies us, which sets us apart from the sinner and the pagan.”
SKILLET‘s latest album, “Dominion”, was released in January 2022 via Atlantic.
Cooper‘s second book, “Wimpy, Weak And Woke”, will be released on November 14.
John‘s debut book, “Awake & Alive To Truth”, has had over 10 printings and won the Book Impact Award at the 2021 K-Love Fan Awards. His podcast, “Cooper Stuff”, continues to grow rapidly as well with over four million downloads and more than two million YouTube views.
John Cooper press photo courtesy of The Media Collective
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