In our secular century, intellectual trends -- from Communism to existentialism and psychoanalysis -- have been not only indifferent but openly hostile to religion. Probably the last place most people might expect to see a religious resurgence at this point would be the pop-music market. But that's exactly what's been happening this year: Christian songwriter Bob Carlisle topped the pop chart with his "Butterfly Kisses" album, while Christian acts such Kirk Franklin, DC talk, Amy Grant, and Jars of Clay have regularly scored top 20 hits. Not only has Christian rock come of age -- it also has its own very busy festival circuit, which recently drew us to a show in the Pacific Northwest.
THE TOM FESTIVAL: STEVENSON, WASHINGTON
RICHIE: The Bible says you're supposed to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. And if the joyful noise unto the Lord means, you know, loud drums and distorted guitars, then that's what it is.
MIKE BRIDGES, Director of The Tom Festival: It's
not Michael W. Smith, it's not Amy Grant. It's all alternative, it's everything from coffee rock to punk rock and everything in between.
ADAM: It's positive. It sounds just like the secular stuff only with like a much more positive message to it.
LEE: A lot of the secular scene, it's just like, I mean, a lot of it's depressing. There's a lot of songs about suicide and drug use and stuff like that.
AARON: My favorite band was Nine Inch Nails. And God told me that I needed to get rid of it.
(Walking festival grounds) Lyle, What's up dude? He's got the "Pray for Marilyn Manson shirt" on.
AUTUMN: Dude, cool shirt.
CHELSEA: That's disgusting. Pray for Marilyn, no I can't stomach that. C'mon guys. No, I'm serious, that makes me want to throw up.
When I listen to secular music, a lot of the times, like, I feel empty. But you come here, man, and the Christian music... It's like you just feel full, man, and then you're like running around,
jumping around, being like "Ahhhhh!!!"
SEAN: I went to the H.O.R.D.E. festival last year. At H.O.R.D.E., I felt like a spectator. I was kind of looking around at people and it was people just burying themselves in their vices. It was just alcohol and it was drug use, you know. I come here and it's a little more communal.
CHELSEA: It's like a family, man, all these people. We have one thing in common, and that's Jesus Christ, man. It's so rad, when we can like get together and we can just love on each other and we don't have any fear or any shyness. We're bold. [1.7MB QuickTime]
MTV: Is there anything rebellious about Christian rock?
MARK: It goes against -- when you flip on your radio, how many stations are not Christian rock? Tons.
LEE: And a lot of it goes against what a lot of people in our traditional church setting... they're not necessarily into the heavier music and stuff
like that, but that's what kids today and just people that are our age relate to.
CHELSEA: Today, man, it was great. Dude, I got some quiet time with God, I got to pray, I got to enjoy the wonderful weather... Today was totally incredible, totally awesome with Jesus Christ. It was radical.
MTV: What's left tonight?
CHELSEA: Tonight, man, tonight, what's tonight? MXPX is tonight.