As a popular music historian (of a sort), I am constantly banging head first into hit songs about people's imaginary friends. And, as such, I mourn for the nation and the world.

So ...

Question 1). Which are your most hated god-centric popular songs? (Mine are, in order, "God Bless The U.S.A." (Lee Greenwood), "Jesus Take The Wheel" (Carrie Underwood) and "Jesus Walks" (Kanye West).

Question 2). Do you have any god-centric popular songs that you rather like, despite their theme? (I'll only admit to "Spirit In The Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, though there are one or two others.)

Question 3). This one is going to be a stumper, I fear. Aside from "Imagine" by John Lennon, is there/are there another/other popular song(s) which are expressly atheistic/humanistic and specifically don't call upon an invisible friend? (I say "popular," in that there are probably many by a variety of indie artists, but those don't necessarily swim in the mainstream where everyone would have heard it on the radio.)

There are a million reasons why there wouldn't be -- not the least of which it's hard to sing about a negative of something (belief), but maybe I'm overlooking something.

Tags: Atheism, Culture, Music, Pop

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Whoa, I think maybe I misunderstood the point of "What if God was One of Us." I always thought it was the most irritating tautological songs ever, maybe even more so than Jerry Reed's "When you're hot, you're hot." I mean, if he/it is one of us then he/it isn't. Maybe she wanted people to think. Not sure, but if she meant it in a similar vein as "What if god smoked cannabis" that would make it less irritating. Note that Joan Osborne didn't write the song, it was written by Eric Bazilian fo the Hooters.
Bad Religion, anybody? They've been around forever and have had a few songs with regular air play. They're a punk band, so probably not everyone's cup of tea. But the tunes are catchy, and the lyrics are often thought-provoking. Check out their songs "Atheist Peace," "Faith in god," "God's Love," "Fuck Armageddon, this is hell," "American Jesus," to name a few.

From "American Jesus"


I don't need to be a global citizen,
'Cause I'm blessed by nationality,
I'm a member of a growing populace,
We enforced our popularity
There are things that seem to pull us under and
There are things that drag us down,
But there's a power and a vital presence
That's lurking all around

We've got the American Jesus
See him on the interstate,
We've got the American Jesus
He helped build the president's estate

I feel sorry for the earth's population
'Cause so few live in the U.S.A,
At least the foreigners can copy our morality,
They can visit but they cannot stay,
Only precious few can garner our prosperity,
It makes us walk with renewed confidence,
We've got a place to go when we die
And the architect resides right here

We've got the American Jesus
Bolstering their ship of faith
We've got the American Jesus
Overwhelming millions every day

He's the farmer barren fields, (In God)
The force the army wields, (We trust)
The expression in the faces of the starving millions, (Because he's one of us)
The power of the man. (Break down)
He's the fuel that drives the Klan, (Cave in)
He's the motive and the conscience of the murderer (He can redeem your sins)
He's the preacher on TV, (Strong heart)
The false sincerity, (Clear mind)
The form letter that's written by the big computer, (And indefinitely kind)
He's the nuclear bombs, (You lose)
And the kids with no moms (We win)
And I'm fearful that he's inside me (He is our champion)

We've got the American Jesus
See him on the interstate
We've got the American Jesus
Exercising his authority
We've got the American Jesus
Bolstering their ship of faith
We've got the American Jesus
Overwhelming millions every day

One nation under God(x10)
Good call! BR is one of my most favorite bands ever!
Brilliant song by Bad Religion
Good questions...
I find most self-defined "christian music" is marketed as such precisely because it would be unable to really get by on it's own merrit, without the christ-gimmick...so for the most part, I think that that stuff is terrible simply by definition.
I definitely get turned off by anything to pious or preachy in other forms of music though as well, and it can even spoil an otherwise good song for me.

However, a lot of my favorite artists manage to work their faith into their music, often subtly (though sometimes even overtly) without getting in the way of my ability to enjoy the music. Nick Cave, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club come to mind as examples. In a related vein, New Model Army, another favorite of mine, tend to be fairly anti-science in a lot of their lyrics (although often just as anti-christian...and just contrarian in general) but there is so much more to their music, that I am able to simply disagree with that one aspect and get past it.
Others can be more ambiguous about it. Tom Waits, for example seems to reference god in the blues tradition when writing in that style, but represents god and religion negatively in other work.

In the end I try to appreciate music and art simply for what it is, and not for the views of the author as long as that view doesn't become so overt as to overshadow all other aspects of the work.
I've listened to Gregorian Chant before, which I suppose might be pro-christian, still I like the stuff in some weird way I can't explain.
Other music I enjoy but think that Christians may approve of would be something like Vangelis' 'Voices' or maybe less so, a song like 'Paralyze' by the Cardigans. That might be a stretch though, depending on the sect.

As for directly anti-christian music, my first thought goes to good ol' Gary Numan, of whom I was surprised to discover two years ago, was still producing stuff. Or well, had, back in the 90's. If you're into 'electronica' with a goth-industrial bent, Exile isn't too shabby. In particular, the song Angel Wars really floored me at first for it's blatant refutation of the divine. My description won't do it justice, I recommend you check it out for yourself.
"Apocalyptica - I'm Not Jesus" - I love Apocalyptica.

I also find Linkin Park - Runaway a bit anti-religious.

"Graffiti decorations
Under the sky of dust
A constant wave of tension
On top of broken trust
The lessons that you taught me
I learned were never true

Pre chorus:
Now I find myself in question
They point the finger at me again
Guilty by association
You point the finger at me again

I wanna run away
Never say goodbye
I wanna know the truth
Instead of wondering why
I wanna know the answers
No more lies
I wanna shut the door
And open up my mind

Paper bags and angry voices
Under a sky of dust
Another wave of tension
Has more than filled me up
All my talk of taking action
These words were never true

Pre chorus
Chorus
I’m gonna run away, and never say goodbye
Gonna run away (2x)
I’m gonna run away and never wonder why
Gonna run away (2x)
I’m gonna run away and open up my mind
Gonna run away (4x)".

The next one is in finnish and this is quite popular band in finland. The lyrics are quite anti-religious too.
Oh i forgot to add the name of the band. The last one is Apulanta - Jumala (god)
"Frewill" by Rush. Best song ever about "god of gaps", superstition and ruling your own life. It gave me a lot of strength while I was in high school :)
I was going to mention that if nobody else had. Rush have a lot of humanist lyrics.
here's the lyrics:

Freewill-Rush:

There are those who think that life is nothing left to chance,
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.

A planet of playthings,
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot conceive.
"The stars aren't aligned
Or the gods are malign"-
Blame is better to give than receive.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still haven't made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear-
I will choose Free Will.

There are those who think that they were dealt a losing hand,
The cards were stacked against them- they weren't born in lotus-land.

All preordained-
A prisoner in chains-
A victim of venomous fate.
Kicked in the face,
You can't pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate.

Each of us-
A cell of awareness-
Imperfect and incomplete.
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet.
"Natural Science" is one of my favorite Rush songs. Among the lyrics are this:

In their own image
Their world is fashioned
No wonder they dont understand

And

Science, like nature
Must also be tamed
With a view towards its preservation
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely serve us well

Art as expression
Not as market campaigns
Will still capture our imaginations
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely help us along

The most endangered species,
The honest man,
Will still survive annihilation
Forming a world
State of integrity
Sensitive, open, and strong

And there is also this bit from "Tom Sawyer":

No, his mind is not for rent
To any God or government.
Always hopeful, yet discontent,
He knows changes arent permanent,
But change is

On their latest album Snakes And Arrows (which is very good, by the way), there is a song called "Faithless". Here is the beginning of it:

I've got my own moral compass to steer by
A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky
And all the preaching voices -
Empty vessels of dreams so loud
As they move among the crowd
Fools and thieves are well disguised
In the temple and market place

Like a stone in the river
Against the floods of spring
I will quietly resist

Like the willows in the wind
Or the cliffs along the ocean
I will quietly resist

I don't have faith in faith
I don't believe in belief
You can call me faithless
You can call me faithless
But I still cling to hope
And I believe in love
And that's faith enough for me
And that's faith enough for me

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