These are the confessions of a washed up Christian punk rocker. This is my struggle between following my faith and following the ways of the punk.
When I first began my journey through punkhood, I had grand ideas of how Christianity and punk were very similar. As punks, we were much like Jesus and his disciples or the early Christians; we were outcasts and weirdos. We had a different way of doing things. We went against society. We were a movement. People hated us for being different, and we loved it. That’s what fueled us. This was the ideal that I clung to.
Within this ideal there was an assumption that the punk community was completely inclusive. We were all different, and we welcomed anyone and everyone. When I first encountered the gatekeepers of the local punk scene my ideals were shaken.
My band played within a certain scene the majority of the time. We were liked and accepted within that scene. We had an opportunity to play in a city we didn’t normally go to for a promoter we had never dealt with before. We were used to being first on the bill. We had come to expect it. We were hoping, though, that we could make a good impression and get subsequent gigs with this promoter.
What ensued was nothing short of a complete disaster for our three-piece punk rock band. We played through our set as usual but with very little response from the audience. No big deal, we were the new guys. We were told not to talk about God, but we decided it was our duty to do the contrary. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I do remember it was a brief one liner that lasted all of five seconds. We were nothing short of booed before our last song and met with silence when we finished our set. I suppose in retrospect it could have been worse.
As it turned out, we had one friend in the audience, a guy from a well known and highly respected local punk band. He did us a solid and videotaped our entire set. As soon as we finished playing he went through the audience and interviewed people, asking what they thought of us. You can probably imagine the responses. Needless to say, no one liked us, and everyone who was interviewed owed their distaste to our Christianity. As we watched the footage our suspicions were confirmed. We could tell the audience didn’t care for us, but it was their words that changed everything. Suddenly our eyes were opened, and we realized the punk scene was not as inclusive as we thought it was.
Our name came up in a public local music forum a few days later, and the disdain for our band and the outrage that people felt was multiplied in ways that only the internet can accomplish. The people we identified with and thought we fit in with hated us because of what we believed in. How we saw ourselves was not how the rest of the punks saw us. Where we felt that we were outcasts because of our faith, others saw us as part of an organized, oppressive system. When it was suggested that we leave the concert for our own safety, we certainly didn’t feel very oppressive. We went from being three self-confident punk rockers to three scared kids.
Should we have just kept quiet? Could we have just gained the people’s respect with our music first and then tried to reach out? Does a real punk back down from his convictions just to fit in? No. This is where my struggle with Right, Wrong, or Punk began.
Continued in Right, Wrong, or Punk part 2!
by Tommy Lutz