The orignal version of the following essay can be downloaded at: http://www.uslink.net/~drees/the.rock/crr/integ.html

My purpose in mirroring it here is only to correct typographical mistakes on the original. The content is identical.

The producers and staff of THE INTRO Live! enthusiastically support the principles and spirit of this essay, and endorse the action items it suggests.

Bruce Carter - producer - THE INTRO Live!

A Call To Accountability

To All Concerned,

Please find attached a short essay outlining a dilemma in which we find ourselves. If your organization or group is affected, or you are influenced by the items in the letter please contact us at the below telephone or fax numbers. This essay will also be available on the Internet.

The essay was written to verbalize (at least) a problem we cannot ignore. Let it be said out front that our goal is to promote Christian artists, and we are long time supporters of Contemporary Christian Music. We have chosen to follow a call to provide a ministry through the medium of Christian Rock Radio. We are both full-time Christian Rock Radio Stations, with a desire to make our radio sound and be better than any "secular" radio station.

We feel we have biblically centered views on our Christian principles and believe that there is plenty of room for diversity within the Christian Body. We entreat you to read the following short essay; if you agree, please let the record company executives, the bands, and the artists know the extent of your insights and feelings. Thank you for your time.

In Christ

Jarel Pittman
KADU, Real Radio
12104 Old Hwy 169
Hibbing, Mn. 55746
(218) 263-3000 phone
(218) 263-6752 fax
email: drees@uslink.net
Vern Egli
WQKO
6200 E. State Road 120
Howe In.
(219)-562-2242 phone
(219)-562-2011 Fax
email: WQKO@aol.com

Integrity In Christian Music

In The Summer of 1994, both stations KADU and WQKO signed on as full-time Christian Rock Stations. Although completely unaware of each other until very recently, both Stations developed an almost identical format. Both are reporting stations, very progressive in their presentation of "Christian" music. Both have staff members that are fairly well versed in both "general market music" and "Christian music". Both promote concerts in their local area. Both play a "hotter mix" than almost any other station they know of, on a continual basis. Both stations have apparently overcome the problems that have plagued earlier attempts at full time Christian Rock stations. Smoothed out rotation clocks, solid and committed sponsors, news, weather, sports, and a fresh approach to presenting Christian values to the world are common to both stations. Both are inter- or non- denominational in their approach to the Bible. Both have a staff that encompasses several denominations. We both have Christian listeners and a large Non-Christian demographic, a phenomenon that is different from many other Christian broadcasting operations. The typical listener to both stations is in the 18-35 year old demographic.

In our attempt to present the Gospel in a positive street level manner, to show that everyday people need Jesus in their lives, we have come across a problem that we cannot deal with on our own and that requires the help and input of other members of the body of Christ. The topic is band/artist integrity. We have had experience with or heard reports of "Christian Artists" that do not maintain a lifestyle off stage that matches the image they portay on stage or with the words they sing. This causes us tremendous problems as Christian broadcasters. This grieves the Lord even more.

In an effort to solve this problem we have decided to take our case to the other rock radio reporters, record company executives, and artists in the Christian music industry. We do not wish to point fingers, lecture, or place condemnation on any party. We do wish to bring the topic into the light of Biblical scrutiny, and deal with this issue in an open and honest manner. We do not wish to create a blacklist, or influence the playlists of any other station, show, or program. We do hope that we influence record company executives to take a more positive approach toward artist accountability. Spiritual issues surrounding artists become as important as the next single, market penetration, airplay, or tour support. We also hope that every label whether major or independent issues a clear and succinct statement that indicates where they stand on artist accountability.

An example

A scenario that we have to deal with is as follows:

A youth worker hears a band on our station, and likes the music. The lyrics are great; they reach out and grab they young listener ..say that is ...17 years old. The music is cool, and the Holy Spirit begins working in the life of a young person who may have been listening to the radio being played just before the start of a youth meeting. The youth worker hears the band is being brought into town and they arrange a trip for everyone to go and hear them. So far so good, God is still at work. Because the artist sounded good in a recent interview on the station, and they had the "look" in that well planned and placed magazine article, the Pastor encourages the kids to bring a friend that does not know Christ to the concert. Several non-Christian teenagers agree to come. This is really going great. Hopefully the band will have a short message of Salvation; if not, no problem, the youth worker has a little speech planned, or a follow up program to continue to witness to the young persons attending the concert. Then the problem creeps in. The youth group goes to the concert and meets the band up close and personal. The band is backstage, smoking, swearing...drinking. Some band members may be using controlled substances, or making improper advances toward backstage persons, usually female. Or, the latest "underground" Christian magazine releases an article where the artist has been involved in an adulterous affair, fornication, or some other plainly non-Biblical, (i.e."sinful") behavior.

The non-Christian is plainly shown that the actions of the band are acceptable, because the radio station endorses these people, the youth pastor got them to come and see, and their friends think the music is cool. Sin, irresponsibility, and poor judgement has given the Gospel of Christ a black-eye. All seemingly unaware persons involved are party to a career that may not be controlled by the Holy Spirit, and by default may be supporting a lifestyle that is not given over to God.

Our Perspective

We as Christian broadcasters have a simple responsibility. We are to present Christ in a manner that the guy on the street can understand, oppose sin wherever we find it, and support Christian principles in every way possible. We are also supposed to tell the truth. We attempt to use "Christian" artists, whose music presents the human condition, the cry of the heart, the emotions and life as experienced and communicated by the artist, and ultimately the hope contained in God's message to us. We have a responsibility to the listener to provide the best example we possibly can of what Christ is about. We are not to judge or condemn, but to provide a Christocentric message of hope balanced by basic Biblical teachings. To the best of our ability we are to present our lives as images of humans trying to walk after the manner of Jesus.

We are not here to discuss the merits of song lyrics; we have already arrived at an acceptable decision. Not every song has to have the word "God" or "Jesus" in it to communicate the truth of the Bible. Nor is it necessary that all songs have scripture in the lyric sheets to help explain their meaning. We are not here to discuss the issue of beat, lead guitars, alternative, punk, rock, or any other style issue. That is not important. We don't care if the term "general market" or "secular" is used.. .Those are marketing gimmicks. Cover art is not important, nor is the number of units sold, or the number of dates on the concert calendar. What is important to us is the artist themselves, the band, the representation of the Body of Christ, and the me ssage they deliver. We feel it is okay for an artist or band to sing or have a viewpoint on war, poverty, the environment, unfullfiled love, pangs of loneliness, or any other issue, so long as it does not violate a Biblical basis of belief. That leaves a wide variety of topics, styles, and viewpoints available to the artist.

In our estimation, music is neither Christian nor Non-Christian, but the artist is. As Christian broadcasters we have a responsibility to our listener whether they are Christian or Non-Christian. We also have a greater responsibility as we stand befor e the Lord and let him judge our actions as His representatives. Some may dismiss this statement over as fundamentalist rantings but it is a definate Biblical principle that God will judge every fiber of our being and those deeds which are not pure will be burned like chaff. It is in this issue we have our dilemma. As broadcasters, or better, as Christian broadcasters what do we do when we know an artist or band is not living true to the Biblical pattern, or has descended into sin? When drunkenness, sexual immorality, pride, anger, or lying has become a solidified pattern in their lives do we just look away and say, "well... they are singing about truth...". That answer seems to be a weak rationalization especially if a young person is influenced by the artist in a negative manner. We are knowingly placing an unseen stamp of approval on the band or artist by airing their material, or promoting a concert especially if we are aware of habitual sin in their lives. We then become a party to a lie, and according to the Epistles of John, Christ cannot live in a lie.... We face a myriad of problems if we simply gloss over the issue. Lives can be damaged, the ministry of the broadcast can be compromised, and there is a chance that there would be a continual degradation of the ministry and art form of the Christian artist to the point where he/she is no better than the "secular" market. It is important to realize that artists of the past not only put their art out front (and the Church, or Christian art was usually considered the best in earlier times) but they also put their faith out front as well. Timeless classics of literature, music, sculpture and paintings were created by masters whose inspiration was often God-breathed. Now often times, Christian art, products, books, or other materials are often considered cheap imitations of the secular world. It does not help the situation when a band or artist shows the world a double standard : "This is what we sing.....and on the other hand this is how we live..." If we gloss over the issue as broadcasters, we not only cheapen the art but more importantly we cheapen the Gospel.

Other burning questions include : Who are we to judge? Does not every person have trouble in their life? Does not everyone sin at some point in time? Could not the finger of accusation be pointed at everyone of us and rightly so? No we cannot judge the motives of the fallen short and are in need of grace beyond measure.

A rather silly question was posed to us the other day..."What if a Christian plumber were sinning, would that mean he should quit plumbing?" The simple answer to that question is ,"Do you want a plumber that can only talk plumbing working on your gas pipe on your kitchen stove?". The house might blow up. Any wise person would not recommend a plumber who they knew could only talk about plumbing. The measure of any individual, artist or not, is not if they have sinned but how they have decided to deal with it, how they have repented, and how God is working in them to build a better human.

Record companies want us to rank their songs high, give their artist lots of airplay, sponsor concerts, and help them to promote their artist. When we as broadcasters do that, we are taking the musician from the "private plumber" realm to the "public figure" realm. We are saying this person represents our Christian values, that he/she represents Christ. A public figure in some aspects is even more so accountable than a private figure. A public figure can influence many thousands of individuals in a single instant. We must therefore accept some responsibility for the impact and influence of the artist, even if it is negative.

Our Course of Action

For now our course of action has been determined by prayer and by joint consultation with pastors and between the management of the two radio stations. Biblical principles were applied to the best of our knowledge and now we will lay out our course of action.

  1. We will make every effort possible through our limited resources to be knowledgeable about artists receiving airplay.
  2. We will air only material that in some manner uplifts, promotes, or relays a Biblical viewpoint on any issue the artist desires.
  3. We will provide as much support as humanly possible to the Christian Artist, and portray him/her in the best light possible.
  4. We will honor and uphold the diversity in which the Holy Spirit has developed in the body of Christ, realizing we may not hold the same viewpoint on all issues.
  5. If any band/artist is found to be in a habitual state of sin, or behaviour that lessens the name of Christ, we will take a variety of actions, including not only the reduction of airplay but also the removal from rotation or playlist permanently or until such time as the individual's pastor(s) have relayed to us that the individual(s) is/are repentant and once again serving the Lord. We would also cease promotion of any kind of the artist. We would strive to base any decisions on first hand experience or information; not gossip, rumor or inuendo.
  6. In the event of extreme action we will not only pray but will be actively involved in the attempt to restore the individual to a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, seeking first that none should be lost, but that all should be saved.
  7. We would encourage all Christian Rock Broadcasters to address this issue in some form, either by distribution of this essay or direct contact with us.
  8. We would communicate our thoughts and feelings on this issue to all record company executives and encourage them to produce a statement of accountability or something similar for their organization and their artists. We would hope that the record companies would see that our highest priority is that the artist works from a solid spiritual foundation.
  9. We would ask that the artists stay firmly rooted and accountable to a local church body, and to one another. Artists should hold each other firmly accountable for their actions, possibly even creating an "artists fellowship" (if one does not exist). This fellowship might deal with the trials and tribulations that musicians as a group face and handle them in a Biblical manner. We ask the record companies to uphold a Biblical standard, and be open when they or an artist has compromised that standard. We as broadcasters should be willing to do the same for our organizations. All sides should edify and support one another in the effort to maintain integrity.

We solicit feedback from all parties concerned as we are trying not only to develop a standard for ourselves but to hear what God would say through others who may have thoughts on the matter. We believe that Christian Rock/Alternative/Loud and other forms of music may be soaring to new heights and we want a firm foundation from which to operate now and in the future.

Conclusion

It is not our goal to be demeaning, demanding or bigoted in our essay. We do not wish to place blame, condemn, or criticize. We simply ask that if you want us to play an artist material, that we be assured that his/her point of origin is Christ. We are not recommending excommunication of artist for one time indescretions, or solitary moments of carnal weakness. We are not saying everyone must conform to our beliefs.

We are asking all parties involved to take seriously the message and purpose of Christian Music (yes, it's okay to say ..."Christian Music"...kinda has a nice ring to it...). If it is not your goal to communicate Biblical truth, and glorify Christ in some manner in your words and actions, we may not be real excited to air your next release. We do not feel that it is our place to be the "church police" in regards to the Artists or Record Companies; they should be accountable to one another and to their local church body and those closest to them. But, if they are not or will not, then we have no choice but to make the hard decisions.

We also realize this stance may jeopardize our standing with the Record Companies; we may lose respect in the "cool crowd". Heaven forbid, some of you may not return our phone calls or e-mail. But if this is the case, then you have not received what we are saying in the spirit in which we are saying it. We hope that you realize what we have discovered; that Christian Rock Radio is a different than most any other type of Christian broadcasting and by it's very nature it has a tendency to walk a fine line. We ask that you lift us up in prayer, especially for our own sin and weakness, and that all people concerned stay repentant and broken before the Lord, with pride only in the fact of a risen Savior.

In Christ