Bad Religion


"Religion is an impulse to explain. A natural impulse that everyone has and everyone grapples with. It's an impulse that, sadly and ironically, has been exploited to convince people to take actions that defy and demean that impulse. The exploiters are (fuck - not these guys again!) the ruling elite of nearly every society, in every era, and ours is no exception. It's not hard to understand the false sense of comfort and security of faith that religion provides. A lot of us have been through it and can understand how hard it can be to shake the grip of dogma. Religious dogma, which is a set of rules, is a tool used by people in power to keep other people powerless, and to coerce them into serving the interests of the powerful. History is flooded with examples of religion used to defend and promote most of humanity's dumbest moves. Like genocide: the holocaust and the annihilation of the worlds' indigenous populations. Like war: from the beginnings of 'civilization' to  the Gulf War and beyond. Like prejudice: the continued subjugation of women in all the major religions. Like poverty: as a tool of capitalism, religion has taught the poor to accept injustice. Probably the worst effect religion has on us is its' ability to create divisions so remarkably deep that people will kill for them. Fuck, scratch at any major conflict in the world today and just beneath the skin of diplomacy and territorial demands you will find a fundamentalist, bloodthirsty form of one or more organized religion. Many 'progressive' people involved in religions believe they can work within their religious institutions to change them for the better. It's an understandable desire- we all work within institutions to some extent, but it's kinda dumb in the same way that the Catholic Church's motivation for wanting to feed the hungry is kinda dumb: their writings and dogma tell them to. Shouldn't they be motivated by simply knowing that feeding the hungry is the right thing to do?? People indoctrinated in religions (including ! the religions of ideology... not mentioning any names), seem to believe that a moral code cannot exist outside of their institution. It can and it does. We have the ability (and the duty!) to do the right thing without the rhetoric of dogmas, the threat of hierarchies or the fear of some some old coot in a beard firing a fucken lightning bolt at our sinful, hairy, zitty little asses. The saddest thing about religion is what is lost. Religion, or more accurately, I suppose, the appropriators and exploiters of religion, have taken our purest impulses of solidarity, compassion, celebration of the wonder and mystery of our lives, and turned them against us. This, most of all, is why I reject religion: so that I can reclaim these impulses for the causes they deserve... love and justice."

   -The Boys of Propagandhi


"Bad religion is a very good band there message is strong but I have to say something about this band.  Bad religion like to preach there music. Good bands will make a song with a strong message and it's like you take or leave it . With bad religion they like to pond it into your head it's the same thing over and over , I think everyone gets that they don't like Christians but they are doing the same things that Christians do except they are preaching the opposite. Just don't preach your music."

   -Mr. Spaz


"I don't feel that bad religion is preaching their music. The focus on many of the same ideas because that's just their way of expressing themselves creatively. If they wanted to preach to us they would try to become famous and be on MTV. They don't care about MTV and just create the music they want. We choose to listen to them."



"I don't think that Bad Religion can be compared to Christians on a preaching level.  I think that Bad Religion, like Propagandhi, or any other politically conscience band are simply bringing to light problems we have caused or are currently causing.  Jerry Falwell, a prominent TV. Evangelist blamed the recent terrorist attacks on single moms, strippers, and drugs in the US. These are obviously not the cause of terrorist attacks, but from Jerry's Christian standpoint, they sure are! And he'll tell you that 'till you're blue in the face. Now, a political activist, or socially conscious person might look at all sides and come to some EDUCATED solution, perhaps independent of the bible or any such propagandas literature (Globe and Mail?). I guess what I'm trying to say is that, no, Bad Religion can not be compared to ignorant Christians who believe in a book that has no foundation other than "the word of god". I think BR's true message would be along the lines of - Hey Jack-ass, look around at what's happening, and point it out to someone...maybe they'll listen; if not that's their problem. Pointing something out, and forcing something down your throat are two separate things. Open your eyes and mind, and try not to believe what mom and dad tell you without questioning it; they're only people too."



"I'm writing this in response to Mr.Spaz's entry. While I appreciate that Bad Religion has strong opinions and they do create their music with the lyrics and their impact at the forefront, there are VERY rare instances where I would consider them to be preaching. For instance, my friend was telling me about the significance of the new song off of 'The Process of Belief' called 'Kyoto Now'. Based on the urgency and severity of the message, it does come off as saying "hey man, get off your ass and DO SOMETHING about it!" But I don't think this is something to complain about. As sort of a prerequisite in punk music, a strong passion towards social and/or political change is pretty much universally present. Bad Religion has kept up a tradition over the (many, MANY) years of having almost an educational tone to their music. Their messages tend to leave enough to interpretation (hence this site) for any range of opinions to form. Sometimes there is enough of a sense of urgency and universality for them to "preach" their opinion, to "rally the troops" as it were and try to get some action on a subject. If you consider yourself a punk in the truest sense of the term, it's essentially your duty to be active and take part in creative and constructive thought/protest/activism/whatever outlet you choose. If you want some examples of preachy music, check out KRS-1 (hip hop), Rage Against the Machine, or the boys of Propagandhi (the authors of the short essay, posted above (incidentally, taken from the liner notes on the album 'Less Talk, More Rock')). If you can appreciate the music, then the more power to you. But if you give the band the full credit they deserve, lyrics MUST be included. If you find these guys too preachy, you might find solace in the frivolous attitudes of other "punk" bands like Blink 182 or Sum 41 *koff* if you're into that kind of thing."



"The huge difference about Bad Religion and believers is that they don't preach on you to believe in supernatural and intolerant things. They don't preach on you to believe in an answer, they preach you to find your own answer, to ask for yourself: 'Is it true? Is it the best for humankind?'. On the other hand, believers think they 'know what's best for you', as if anybody could know such a thing."

   -Brazilian Fan


"Mr Spaz-have you got a fucking clue what you are talking about? Bad Religion do not and have never preached they state there opinions and that is it, for Christ sake in the song 'No Direction' (its from the album 'Generator' I included this since you are clearly ignorant of the bands music) Graffin sings 'no bad religion song can make you're life complete, prepare for rejection, you'll get no direction from me' on many MANY occasions the band has said that this is one of there most important lyrics, they do not try to indoctrinate or coherse people into thinking in the same way as them, they promote freedom of speech and far more importantly freedom of thought, its called INDIVIDUALITY! I don't think you can in any way shape or form accuse them of preaching or being in anyway similar to Christianity. Feel free to respond to this and by all means include band quotations to support you're view but i think you'll find if you actually listened and thought about what the band is saying then you will realize how wrong you really are!"



"Spaz, I'm wondering what you would prefer BR write songs about. I've noted a very inquisitive, reflective tone in most Bad Religion songs that is very different from the proselytizing done by your average Rage Against the Machine/System Of A Down/Anti-Flag "political' band (Although 'Die For the Government' echoes my own thoughts on the subject quite well, as do 'War?' and 'Wake Up', these bands' talents lie largely in their musical rather than lyrical abilities.)  I have always considered BR's lyrics to be much more philosophical than political.  They also have recorded plenty of old-fashioned alt-rock angsty love songs, so I don't see much reason to find fault with their subject matter. On the contrary, a band that can address profound existential subjects is a welcome rarity in the music business.  The best we usually get are half-informed radicals screaming for some cause or adolescent whining dressed up as heartfelt profundity (Cough! Cough! Nirvana! Cough!)"



"Mr. Spaz has apparently chosen the wrong site to post a critical point of view! Well, I love BR, and I don't think they're exactly preachy, but I do can say that there's the danger of not being able to look further than BR's lyrics. I've grown with them and they're part of myself and my education, but in university and through literature and philosophy I've found that sometimes they just don't go the extra mile and I need something deeper, more complex. 'No BR song can make your life complete', after all. I think Greg Graffin would love to see every fan finding his own way in life and remembering BR as just a beginning for a rich intellectual attitude towards the world. The religious problem is harder than this or any song can tell, and it's inside everyone of us. Is BR preachy? Depends on how you take it. Greg doesn't want to be a preacher, so he tells us to read Chomsky and study natural sciences. And everyone should, as well as a lot more things. I look at ! BR as primary education towards something really great, and also as a groundbreaking music band that represents a vital tendency in modern music. Beyond that, I turn to the classics instead."



"I guess there needs to be made a clear distinction between a 'religious follower' and a 'Christian' one is simply following ideology or doctrines, basing it on ethics and moral (how booring), the a way of life.... yes it is true people like the Christian coalition are not making things better, (but not denying that the *TRUE and ORIGINAL* intentions of Christianity are correct) so maybe it's not the beliefs we're criticizing here but in actuality the 'representations' of it. you guys should check out Moby's album 'Animal Rights' and hear what he said in that CD cover...he makes the same valid point, having and ideal sense of what society can be or should be is not wrong...but how you act on that certain knowledge / un-knowledge (made up word =P) is what matters."



"Well what can I say?  Bad Religion is one of the best punk band i have ever heard of.  But I have something that I would like all of you to think about. as more then ever you all know that bad religion has been exploited on mtv and kroq. I'm not saying that listing to kroq is wrong ,and punk has always been played on kroq  just very late. So I just want  to know other people's view about bad religion on the radio. (don't be a dick when you reply)."



"I think you guys are missing something here.  Let me start off by saying Bad Religion is one of my favorite bands.  And I'm really glad that Brett Gurewitz is back because he's brings the dynamic to a whole other level.  What Bad Religion is essentially about to me is poetic nihilism.  This is a very difficult sentiment to explain.  To put it the best way I can, it was about taking everything with a grain of salt.  But a tasty grain of salt.  In the summer of '98, I remember standing on the boardwalk looking at a distant light on the horizon and listening to 'turn on the light'  and it evoked this feeling, just about the idea of burning infinitely brightly for a fraction of a second, it was powerful, and not really translatable to words.  For me, that's what what bad religion was about.  The songs are usually multi-layered, and I don't think they always have a 'meaning' in the I'm trying to get this across to you sense. Take a song like 'Atomic Garden.'  Brett has said that is about nuclear proliferation, plain and simple.  But when I hear the lyrics, I relate to it on a different level.  I think of this guy, this really tragic protagonist, who sees beauty in all these different things, but can never experience it, because he's trapped in this 'room inside his room.' That's how I feel a lot of the time, I can see beauty in life around me, but I can't be a part of that life often, only because there's this personal mental barrier.  Anyway, the way I imagine it, this guy who can't experience beauty is desperately yearning for something, some liberation from his state of paralysis. And the only solace he can find is in the idea of some ultimate chaotic even, like an explosion, and the bigger the better.  It's the only way he feels he could ever experience things for real.  Anyway, the song could also be about nuclear proliferation though, and those two ideas could sort of get interconnected, even though one is a political idea, and the other is about a personal experience.  The union of the persona; and the universal, and the dichotomy of bad religion's message, which is sort of 'use your mind to question everything but don't lose your soul in the process' makes for amazing art.  To me, this isn't because of analytical messages, but the strong feelings that are evoked by the songs.  I often 'get' the general point of song, like say 'getoff'  without really understanding what each line actually means, they all just contribute to this central idea.  And that's very much in tune with my personal of the world.  Viewing everything as multi layered and interrelated, and recognizing that while there is always more depth then meets the eye to anything, things are also very simple when seen in a more holistic sort of way.  But at the same time everything really fades away and ;loses it's meaning after time, but that doesn't matter, because we're all mortal and the only source of personal strength anyone ever really needs is the fact of their own existence.  So don't get too bogged down in analysis guys."



"Wow.  I think it's amazing that everyone has to try to define Bad Religion songs.  I don't think anyone has yet realized that when you define something, you limit it.  All forms of music are pretty much indefinite, they can go anywhere and mean anything depending on the varying points of view.  No two points of view are alike, so each song is interpreted in a different way. These forums are cool because people are expressing their deeper selves without even realizing it:)"



"Hey did anybody notice that every album has a title track except for the new album? What's that about? Anyway, I was wondering why they didn't do that for this one. Perhaps since the line "The process of Belief" was mentioned in the song "Materialist", they figured that would suffice"



"in response to Steadfast, I don't see anything wrong in BR being distributed through "Commercial" channels such as Mtv or K-roq. If we like their music and message then why wouldn't we want more people to be exposed to it? I'm just thankfull that They have the guts to say what they do, I find myself in situations where I want to speak up but I hold myself back. More people should atleast be exposed to views other than what they have been fed with all their life and perhaps some of them will start questioning the injustices we are surrounded by. I think the Punk scene is working against itself when we refuse to use comercial channels to distribute our messages, we will just continue to preach to the choir. Opinions are welcome,"

    -Chris Andrews