Christian Music Buyers Turned Off to Gruesome CD Covers

By Jeff Godwin

Just when you think you've heard it all...

Ten years ago, when my wife and I were first saved, we stumbled across "Christian" Rock for the first time.

After listening to some C-Rock demos in the local mall's "Christian" bookstore, we both agreed this "Christian" Rock thing was surely some kind of a joke, right?

No one would take such an obvious, silly, watered-down imitation of the world seriously...would they?

We quickly realized that "Christian" Rock was not just a weird fad for a few make-believers on the religious fringe.

Nearly ten years in public ministry have taught us that the Contemporary Christian Music phenomenon is a multi-million dollar industry bent on bilking boatloads of bucks from "Christians" so hypnotized by the world they can't tell the difference between the holy and the profane.

But now the CCM industry has got a real problem on their hands, and it's all about MONEY.

In the April 7, 1994 issue of "Christian Retailing," an article on music marketing titled, "Pushing The Limits?" moaned about a new dilemma arising in the C-Rock camp.

"...Many Christian retailers nationwide believe the music industry has crossed the line in its marketing and packaging attempts. Retailer's greatest concerns lie in CD covers that depict death and science-fiction issues. Retailers said the alternative and metal covers in general have caused the majority of customer flack, and, as a result, they have pulled some of the titles from their shelves.

In addition to customer problems, some retailers have found it's not cost-effective to expend employee effort filtering through lyrics of CDs with questionable covers."

Let's get this straight their shameful imitation of the world's worst Rock sludge has now caught up with the C-Rock industry.

Talk about foolishness! Christian bookstores are now paying employees to sit in the stockroom and play censor for every new box of C-Rock slop that comes off the truck! What nonsense.

Believe it or not, there was a time not too many years ago, when the difference between Christian and worldly music was obvious. No one had to wonder whether gory, weirdo album covers were really honoring Christ or not.

When customers and bookstores complain and begin shipping back tapes under protest, you would think the C-Rock producers would clean up their act. Right? No, they'll defend their "art" to the death.

"Designers who develop the concepts for the covers and marketing campaigns maintain that their objective is to create a cover that accurately represents the music to the target market.

"Connie Harrington of Benson Music Group said she strives to produce a cover image that reflects the artist. 'The trend to do dark death images on covers is a spin-off from the secular the weirder, the scarier, the almost-gruesome, the better. I think you can be creative and on the edge without being distasteful,' she said."

Creative CCM industry "artists" gritting their teeth to out do the world's satanic album gore think they're really doing kids a favor by imitating madness.

What they don't realize is this: The most naive Christian kid on the street sees right through their hypocrisy. Witness this letter I received from a young Christian in Alaska named Robert:

"So that guy at the Christian bookstore I said to him that I would like to give him some constructive criticism... He said that they have sent some music back because of what the covers look like. I thought to myself, "These [on the display racks] were bad here. I wonder what the ones he sent back looked like! So I told him that the Bible says, 'Abstain from all appearance of evil...'"

The CCM industry has crossed the line, alright. And something's happening in the Christian Bookstores that makes them swallow hard...

The customers are not buying it.

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