Skillet frontman John Cooper is calling out what he sees as a “wimpy and weak” Christianity that has resulted in a drag queen showing up at the Dove Awards.
Cooper’s comments to Church Leaders came days after progressive drag queen “Flamy Grant” and songwriter Derek Webb showed up at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards. Webb, who has won Dove Awards in the past, showed up to the Christian event in a dress.
“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 said in a video. “If I’m attending as an ally of friends and colleagues, I should do everything possible to surrender that privilege at the door.”
why did i wear a dress to the dove awards? pic.twitter.com/KdjYXHFuUa— Derek Webb (@derekwebb) October 19, 2023
Earlier this year, Webb released what he described as his “first Christian and gospel album in 10 years,” featuring a song with drag queen “Flamy Grant.” The song, “Boys Will Be Girls,” includes the lyrics: “I heard Jesus loved and spent his life with those who were abandoned by proud and fearful men / So if a church won’t celebrate and love you, they’re believing lies that can’t save you or them / ‘Cause you’re so beautiful by any name.”
Grant, for his part, said he was attending the awards show “to have a good time as out and proud queer Christian musicians.”
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“We’re there to represent, take up our little bit of space, and bring our queer joy to an awards show that, frankly, needs it,” he said. “A lot of us grew up listening to [contemporary Christian music] and watching the Doves. While we’re not interested in asking for acceptance or approval from the GMA (we accept and approve of ourselves, thank you very much!), this little queer expedition party is about planting a metaphorical pride flag in territory that hasn’t been willing to wave one for us.”
Cooper argued people like Grant and Webb are taking advantage of Christians who don’t know how to speak up boldly and compassionately on issues like sexuality.
“Obviously, they’re just trying to get attention, they’re trying to disrupt, and they’re going about it in a clever way,” he said. “And the truth is they are being the aggressors in this.”
The author and recording artist went on to say Webb and Grant are “trying to antagonize the Christian music industry, including Christian artists, and have attempted to get them to affirm their views on the LGBTQ+ movement for years,” asserting they would not pull such a stunt at an event for Muslims.
“They know that Christians are so wimpy and weak,” he said. “They know that Christians are then going to somehow feel intimidated by them and not know how to act.”
Although Cooper was not in attendance at the awards show, he said that — if he had been there — he would have simply ignored Grant and Webb. The singer said the choice not to engage with the two men would be out of obedience to the Apostle Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.
“When you’re dealing with people who claim the name of Christ, who then refuse to stop these patterns of behavior that the Bible condemns, then we have responsibility not to associate with these people,” Cooper explained. “So, I would just ignore them.”
Part of the problem, he added, is the lack of clarity on sexual morality within the Christian music industry.
“If there was clarity in the Christian music industry about what it truly meant to be a follower of Jesus,” he said, “I think that people wouldn’t feel comfortable to come and express queer joy. I think they would be like, ‘This isn’t for us.'”
That, however, goes back to his assertion that Christians are too timid on hot-button issues.
“Those who still hold to biblical sexual ethics are getting more afraid to say something, because they feel bullied, and they feel like the minority,” he noted. “And they’re not sure what’s gonna happen if they do, and they’re not sure if there’s going to be anyone in Christian music that has their back.”
The fact that any Christians are entertaining Webb and Grant, Cooper said, has left him “literally speechless.”
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