Politics and southern gospel

They don’t mix (shhh don’t tell Martin Cook and Jonathan Wilburn). More at sogospellovers. That clunky phrase “potential listeners” is unfortunate (if they’re gonna be alienated – or not – by politics, they have to be real listeners first), but the poll perhaps confirms what many of us have known for a long time.

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  1. CVH wrote:

    I don’t think the poll is terribly surprising. I don’t care what a performer’s political views are. What I care about is whether or not I’m getting my money’s worth in a ticketed concert. If it’s a church or offering scenario it’s more likely I may have to endure the non-musical rhetoric.

    The other thing that annoys me is when a singer/group allies themselves with a cause, even a worthy one like Compassion Intl., and imposes a ten-minute speech or video presentation on me. To me that’s unacceptable. Having material available at their table is one thing; forcing me to listen to a pitch for an organization I may or may not choose to support is another.

    Bottom line: do what you’re there for. Sing. Keep your personal views and agendas to yourself.

  2. RR wrote:

    19 responses to the poll- is that enough to draw strong conclusions from?

  3. CVH wrote:

    RR, good question but if this were an election, NBC would have already declared a winner!

  4. RF wrote:

    Interesting that the poll comes out like this, but I have to say that one of the reasons I avoid Legacy 5 was Scott Fowler’s politicing for conservative candidates. The same goes for John Rulapaugh, who has maybe the best quartet tenor voice in the world. Even if I like the candidate, there’s something about someone telling me that to be a Christian, i have to vote for George Bush or anyone. No they don’t say that, but they imply it. Over and over.

    We had a preacher once who was led to endorse a very conservative cause once and I politely walked out on him. He asked me why and I told them that my father always told me that to win souls you had to preach to Democrats as well as Republicans. A week later, he said he saw what I meant never again did that.

  5. Mary wrote:

    That’s true RF.
    Another example: What good is a sermon about alcoholism to an audience that has always been sober, and has not had any family or friends affected by it?
    Although I personally agree with these singers preferences, how can they convince someone else of thier views’ merit if it is pushed onto the crowd?

  6. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    It doesn’t really makes sense for an artist to do the political thing on the stage. They all ready have a large majority of those people on their side all ready.
    You are just going the extra mile to make sure you lose that prospective fan or customer forever.
    Worst then that would being turning off a prospective sinner to come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.
    Wonder if that could be consider a stumbling block for the working of the Holy Spirit.
    Discernemant counts too.
    Just pray that any of those artists doing the politcal thing on stage do not have “not for profit” status for their ministry with the IRS.

  7. ST wrote:

    There was a particular group who came to sing at my dad’s church. The first time, my dad said they did a great job and the Lord really used them. So they we’re invited back a few months to a year later. The second time they started talking politics and political views - even bashed parties and bragged on certain candidates. People walked out on them, and the church WILL NOT have them back again.

    Personally as a singer and a preacher, I feel it is our first duty to present the gospel of Christ and the Word of God. Does that leak over into political issues? Sure. The Bible gives strong and clear stands on such issues as abortion and homosexuality. However, for us to endorse or tell people to vote for certain candidates can and does cross the line. So does mentioning or bashing certain parties. We should stand for what is biblical and for what is right according to the bible. This is pleasing God and not man - and it is our duty and our calling to please God. If they cannot handle the Bible when it clearly speaks against political ISSUES (not candidates and parties), then so be it. Like I said, the Bible does say to please God not man.

    By the way, if we are only preaching to our little political crowd to give them what they want to hear politically, then we are only preaching to please this certain crowd.

    On the other hand, it is wrong to hold back preaching the Bible or taking a stand on the Bible just because we may loose a ticket, CD sale, member, or fan. The purpose in both of these situations is to do whatever it takes to please man - not God, and that’s wrong.

    How can we go to ALL the world and preach the gospel if we preach political candidates and not the Bible. Soon our only audience will be those who’s political views are only like our own. That makes us feel real good because we can always get an “Aman” out of our own crowd. Personally, I’m not interested in just getting an “Aman” from someone who votes just like I do. I’d rather get in on seeing God draw a lost sinner to an old-fashioned altar where he gets set free from sin. If that happens, God will lead that born again convert in all areas of his life - even in what is right in politics!

    Bottom Line - Sing and preach the Bible and Christ, but let God be God. Only He knows how to save, pursade, change hearts and minds in what is right.

  8. RF wrote:

    Well said, ST. You articulated the point perfectly.

  9. bp wrote:

    It does seem that we would be well served to focus on issues where they intersect our hearts (and minds) and our faith, instead of endorsing specific candidates/figures.

  10. sg wrote:

    Great thoughts ST

  11. RK wrote:

    If you don’t believe political speechifying on stage alienates fans (”potential” or not), just ask the Dixie Chicks (who, despite continuing to produce critically acclaimed recordings, have to cancel tour dates in major U.S. cities they once sold out because they can’t sell enough tickets anymore). Or ask Linda Ronstadt, who got booed off a Las Vegas stage for espousing anti-war views, and subsequently saw her entire engagement cancelled.

    Especially since the 1960’s, however, expressing political views from the concert stage has become common in secular music, though it didn’t really take off in southern gospel until the 90’s, when evangelical Chrisitian political become largely homogenous.

    That said, artists can and do get away with it as long as they know their audiences well. For example, I doubt that the antiwar propaganda coming from the Woodstock stage in 1969 alienated many of the young hippies present. And I doubt the right-wing political orations at NQC in recent years have raised many hackles, given the overwhelming conservative tilt of the audiences.

    What gets an artist into trouble is when they espouse a view diametrically opposed to the bulk of their audiences (i.e. the Dixie Chicks with their conservative, country music fans or Ronstadt in front of an affluent, middle-aged crowd).

    IF (and its a big “if”) the Religious Right loses its dominant position among evangelicals in the U.S. (and we are seeing some signs that they could, although it is too early to tell), we’ll start to see southern gospel artists face increasing resistance from their fans when they wax political. If not, they will continue the diatribes with larges rounds of applause, offputting only a small minority who are out of step with the prevalent political persuasions of evangelical America.

  12. Charles Brady wrote:

    Many of the artist in southern gospel have their ministries set up as 501(c)(3). I think if the politics continue as they have in the past it will only be a matter of “when” and not “if” the IRS lowers the boom on these ministries. Here is the guidence taken directly from the IRS web site if anyone questions rather the practice is not allowed. (Not to mention “unwanted” by most fans.)


    Can a tax-exempt organization endorse candidates for public office?

    The type of tax exemption determines whether an organization may endorse candidates for public office. For example, a section 501(c)(3) organization may not publish or distribute printed statements or make oral statements on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office. Consequently, a written or oral endorsement of a candidate is strictly forbidden. The rating of candidates, even on a nonpartisan basis, is also prohibited.


    (With that said I am not operating as a non-profit but I still hold my tongue when it comes to my personal political views. My son is the only one who knows where I keep my “Never Trust A Talking Bush Unless It’s On Fire” T-shirt”.) (c)Charles Brady-CMG-2006

  13. Jonathan Wilburn wrote:

    Hey this is a great web site. My first time to see your comments. Oh ,by the way, hope your legs grow together and you get a horse for CHRISTMAS! LOL

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