Come All Ye Faithless?

By Juan Zung

When I was a kid, there were several bands I was afraid of. Bands like AC/DC and Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. I thought that if I liked those bands, God would be angry with me and I wouldn’t go to Heaven. Little did I know that Ozzie Osbourne was (and is) a praciticing Christian. And that AC/DC, despite common loadie speculation, does not stand for “Anti-Christ/Devil’s Child.” And, to my surprise, Judas Priest was not a Satanic cult, but actually got their name from a Bob Dylan song (which incidentally is about the value of Commandments 7 & 10).

So, over time, I let go of my superstitious fear of listening to “Devil” music. But it still subconsciously bothered at me. Even during my most agnostic times, I avoided overtly anti-Christian bands. Take Bad Religion for example. After all, can a band be more anti-religion than to be called Bad Religion?

So, despite having a couple Bad Religion albums in my collection [1], I never really got into them. I still don’t know their members by name. I don’t know their songs or their albums. I’ve never seen them play, even though they’re from LA.

But then one Sunday morning, on my way to church, I’m listening to the radio and they’re doing an interview with a couple of the guys from the band. It turns out, they’ve put out a new album. [2] And this new album is a Christmas record!


I expected it to be sarcastic or ironic or otherwise anti-religious. I thought maybe they’d change the lyrics and use the traditional melodies to make political statements against Christianity. I fully prepared myself to be both insulted and entertained by something more akin to Bill Maher’s Religulous than Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas.

But funny thing, Bad Religion didn’t have an anti-Christian agenda. What they talked about was how truly great these old carols are. Including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Each song on this nine song album (well almost each song) [3, 4] is a straightforward, unironic, punk-rock rendition of tried and true songs of Christmas joy. No words were changed to reflect an atheistic worldview. No melodies were downshifted to twist songs of triumph into sinister dopplegangers (e.g. Marlyin Manson’s “Sweet Dreams.”).

Nope, this is just good, old fashioned uplifting Christmas Music!!!

Listening to the rest of the interview, I found that the guys actually are just regular people. They have families. They celebrate Christmas with their families, a lot of which is a way to make sure to take time each year to focus on their children. And, no, they are not Christian believers. They don’t attend church. They don’t believe in Christ’s salvation.

But they do believe in goodwill for their fellow human beings. And they do believe in the value of good songs.


[1] I’m not too proud to admit that I keep albums in my collection strictly for the cool factor.

[2] 20% of the proceeds of the sales for this record go to the charity SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Also, the band promised to donate $.50 to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier for every person who opened a webpage on reddit. Yup, these dudes are pretty big time do-gooders.

[3] Track list:

  1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  2. O Come All Ye Faithful
  3. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  4. White Christmas
  5. Little Drummer Boy
  6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  7. What Child Is This?
  8. Angels We Have Heard On High
  9. American Jesus

[4] The last song on the album is the very political “American Jesus,” which criticizes the inflated entitlement that some Americans feel about our position as the best country on the planet.


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