Christian Rocker John Cooper: Social Justice Agendas Like Critical Race Theory and Abolishing Police Sparking a ‘Civil War’ in America

TEMPE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 02: Singer/bassist John Cooper prepares to use a hand-held C02 blaster cannon as he performs during a stop of the Victorious War Tour at the Marquee Theatre on September 2, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Christian rocker John Cooper, lead singer of the band Skillet, spoke about how he believes Christians should handle controversial social justice issues, including critical race theory, explaining how he realized there was “something off” with the left’s insistence to embrace such hot button topics and contending that their lofty ideas, such as abolishing prisons and police, are fundamentally flawed, as they ignore human nature.

Discussing his book Awake & Alive to Truth, Cooper explained how he, as a Christian, was able to reconcile being a follower of Jesus and ultimately rejecting the left’s social justice agenda items, despite the temptation to refrain from challenging them.

“It wasn’t a temptation in the sense that I was tempted to leave my faith behind, but it was a temptation — it was challenging truth … it was: well, you don’t have to leave Jesus behind but what if you didn’t talk about Jesus in order to get to a place where you can do more for [Jesus]?” he said. “It was my introduction into that very deceptive type of mingling of truth … making something seem one way when it was really another”:

It was shaking because of that, but it was a couple of years later — probably 2012 — when I really began noticing so much was happening. I didn’t understand some of the terminology that was being used. All of a sudden, we had a big move of — at the time, I would not have known to call it social justice. Now I realize what it’s called is social justice. But we had all of the social justice activism happening and I was finding myself confused about where to land. I knew that I wanted to be a light to the world and I want[ed] to share the Gospel of Christ. And I believe a part of that is loving people, and helping the poor, and so on and so forth, but there were things about the social justice movement that gave me a lot of red flags and I didn’t quite understand what was happening. That is when I began to really delve into culture, philosophy, and those types of things.

Cooper believes many Christians have fallen victim to agreeing with the terminology “without understanding what they were going into, and now I think that’s becoming very clear.”

“We’re having a bit of a church split because a lot of people really believe one way and a lot of people believe another way. I think we’re seeing a civil war in the American church — over social justice,” he said, mentioning the debate over critical race theory specifically, which he said is “responsible for a new Christian book … that is a book of prayers, including a prayer that says ‘God please help me to hate White people.'”

He said:

A conclusion of CRT is that … majority-White churches that don’t have Black leadership are racist. But if they do have Black leadership, they may be racist because they’re tokenizing Blacks. But if they have a Black man that they believe is gifted, and they want to send him to a Bible college – after that man gets done with Bible college, if he comes back to the White-majority church and the White-majority church keeps him for their own, then they could be guilty of racism for holding talent in the White community and not sending it out to the Black community. But if that Black man comes back afterwards, and they send him back to the Black community, it’s proof of racism because they don’t want to be under Black leadership.

As a result, critical race theory, Cooper continued, has “made everything in life seen through a monocausality of the color of your skin.”

It’s those kinds of things that I see as a completely separate worldview than Christianity.  But it is being imported into the Bible, and then people are using Bible scriptures along with that worldview — but they don’t actually go together. They’re kind of imposing a wrong worldview with the words of Christ. So, now the words of Christ don’t mean the same thing as they historically have meant.

The “Comatose” singer went on to explain that the terminology used by the left became a stumbling block, admitting that the social justice language sounded right, but he realized something was “off.” However, the deceptive terminology, he suggested, has become a stumbling block for many Christians:

It took me several years to realize that people were just changing definitions of terms. You might be talking about justice and I might be talking about justice but we might mean two very different things. So, I think some of it is asking for clarification of people’s terminology.

What kind of Christian isn’t against racism? I mean, that would be a very strange thing to not be against racism. But I need to know what you mean when you say [you oppose racism] so that I know what I am marching for or what I am standing up for … Can we have a definition of terms? That would be really nice. Honest conversations are really hard to have these days because people are … ready to fight and so I just pray — I’m not suggesting I always do a good job of this — but I always do pray that I could be full of the spirit of God in order to be gracious toward someone that I disagree with. I can’t be responsible if they will reciprocate that to me – and I know that I have strong opinions and I say things firmly — but I really want to have those conversations


He also observed that the recent ideological shift — the desire to abolish prisons, the police, etc. — really stems from a humanistic worldview that ignores the fundamental reality of human nature.

“That is a humanistic idea that says If we just get humanity good enough, then no one would ever need anything,” he explained. “Therefore, no one would ever commit a crime because everybody will have everything they need. That ignores human nature.”

The Skillet frontman added that he is not interested in giving in on truth “not one centimeter, not one inch, because there is no such thing as unity outside of the truth.”

“It’s faux unity, it’s make-believe. It’s pretend. It’s perception of unity without any actual truth behind It,” he said. “That’s what I try to hold in tension: Love and honesty with people, grace for the conversation, but unwilling to bend on truth.”

Similar arguments have been made by GOP politicians in the political realm, turning their principles into action. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in Florida, for example, vowed on Friday to take action against divisive critical race theory efforts in the Sunshine State.

“I mean, first of all, it’s offensive — here we are celebrating tax savings — it’s offensive to the taxpayer that they would be asked to fund critical race theory,” DeSantis said, adding they would be asked to “fund teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other.”

“We need to make sure civics is a priority, but it needs to be taught accurately. It needs to be taught in a fact-based way. Not an ideological-based way, and if we have to play whack-a-mole all over this state, stopping this critical race theory, we will do it,” he said, prompting a round of applause.


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