Some of the members of the city of Midland, Texas, met this past weekend to pray in advance of a concert by Swedish metal band Ghost, which took place on Nov. 19th. Larry Long, pastor of Fellowship Community Church, led the group. He told CBS 7 News that their goal was not to protest the concert or the band, but to protect the community by praying against any demonic activity.
It turns out that Pastor Long has good reason to perceive the band as promoting the demonic: That is clearly what the band is doing.
In an interview with Ghost’s lead singer and songwriter, Tobias Forge, J. Bennett of hard rock magazine Revolver refers to the band as an “occult-rock act” and describes one of their earliest songs as “a chugging, melodic paean to Satan.” Forge embraces these ideas not only in his lyrics but also in his performances.
During shows, he appears onstage as one of three satanic popes, “singing odes to Lucifer and songs about zombie queens, about imaginary schoolgirls with psychic powers, and about very real Hungarian countesses who bathed in the blood of virgins.”
Several factors influenced Forge to take such a direct and hostile stance against Christianity. These include negative experiences with authority figures in his life who claimed to be Christians, as well as his impression of the Catholic church as a child.
People have famously accused various rock and roll songs of the ’70s and ’80s of containing satanic messages in them. Supposedly, listeners can hear these messages by playing the albums backwards Often, these accusations are overblown. Take, for example, the Eagles’ song “Hotel California.” Many have said it describes a satanic cult, but this is not the song’s meaning according to the band members.
Ghost, in contrast, is writing music that unquestionably and unashamedly embraces the demonic. Pastor Long acknowledges that people have freedom to believe what they want, but points out that “Christians believe the devil is real.” Referring to one of Ghost’s songs that describes wanting a relationship with the devil, he expressed his concern about the influence such a song can have on young people.
He says, “I think if they’re singing along to those lyrics, who knows what in the world they’re opening their hearts and lives up to?” Long says he’s surprised that the performing arts center that signed the band failed to recognize that many in the community would not appreciate Ghost’s values.
The concert venue has defended its decision, citing the fact that Ghost is simply creating music consistent with the shock rock genre and observing that the center welcomes groups of a variety of genres. One community member posted on Facebook, thanking Long for his stand against Ghost and noting the tepid response to the situation from other churches in the area.