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"The curse against God is Exercise I in the primer of minor poetry."—G. K. Chesterton, about the first subtrope.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin, this is a song that attacks religion or religious figures. There are various subtropes, though they often overlap:
The God Is Evil/Rage Against the Heavens song consists of attacks on a deity that is actually believed in (usually by at least some recognizable group) and objected to. A subset of these are angry versions of Have You Seen My God?, or demands that the deity explain what they think they're playing at, and/or whether they're really what they say they are. Parodies that are a Take That at a deity itself also land here. As do pretty much all musical examples of God Is Flawed.
The Author Filibuster Religion Is Wrong/Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions rant song is about calling out religion as a pernicious influence, or based on false beliefs, or both. Like the first, this one need not imply atheism, though it often does, and is compatible with Jesus Was Way Cool type sentiments towards particular deities/religious figures, while attacking Knights Templar, the Church Militant, the Path of Inspiration, what its singers perceive as a Religion of Evil, or similar things. This one may also come in calmer versions. Parodies that are a Take That at a religion as a whole or at its followers usually land here.
The Calling Out The Leaders rant song includes songs about losing faith in prophets/gurus/religious leaders and/or specific Take Thats at a specific leader of a Path of Inspiration or perceived Con Man or Scam Religion or Knight Templar or Moral Guardian, whether or not this also extends to losing faith in the relevant deity/deities or religion. Parodies that are a Take That at a leader or a specific subgroup within a religion (e.g. a Con Man or a group of Moral Guardians) are here, no matter how much followers of said religion might insist they are Type 1.
These are commonly - but not always! - Goth, Heavy Metal or Punk songs.
- Pretty much any Black Metal band will have at least ONE song of this nature in its discography.
- Leonard Bernstein's Mass has a few Type 1 examples, the angriest being "Non Credo" and "Dona Nobis Pacem", though even they don't imply God Is Evil.
- Virtually any song from Fireaxe's album Food for the Gods. Take your pick, there are about 50 of them.
- Loudness's "Racing The Wind" is an angry type 1. Arguably their 2010 song "King of Pain" is as well, because it has two possible interpretations - being a Take That at a Corrupt Corporate Executive or President Evil or some such, or being a Take That at, if not God, at a popular interpretation of "God".
- NOFX's Idiots Are Taking Over is clearly a Type 1. It derides America in general, but specifically cites the nation's decline being due to "faith...being fancied over reason," resulting in "God-fearing pregnant nationalists" propagating "how-to-get-ahead religions."
- Tori Amos: "God." ("God, sometimes you don't come through/do you need a woman to look after you?")
- XTC's "Dear God," a mix of 1 and 2 that basically calls God out on his numerous failures, says the Bible was written by "us crazy humans" and ends up by saying "I can't/won't believe in you."
- Zilch's "Easy Jesus" is a Type 1, 2, and 3. (yes, it manages to be in all of these categories.)
- A Perfect Circle's "Judith."
- Blasphemous Rumors" by Depeche Mode.
- "Personal Jesus" may be a type 1, a type 2, or a type 3, depending on the interpretation. Word of God (yeah, we know) apparently favors type 2. Johnny Cash's version seems closer to a subversion of type 1, or possibly 3, and either way makes it sound like a straight(ish) God Is Love Song rather than a Take That at one. It also manages to sound like it's an original the Depeche Mode is the cover of, partly due to the piano riff.
- "Heresy" by Nine Inch Nails is definitely this with lyrics like His perfect kingdom of killing, suffering, and pain/Demands devotion, atrocities done in his name and a rousing chorus of "Your God is dead, and no one cares." Whether the song represents Trent Reznor's actual feelings or those of the album's "main character" is debatable, but the song's internal meaning is clear.
- Word of God is that it was written in reaction to conservative Christians who had claimed that AIDS is divine punishment for promiscuity and homosexuality.
- "Terrible Lie" is a less abstract, more personal variant, although without reading the lyrics booklet it can be hard to tell that each verse actually begins with a distorted voice yelling "Hey God!" (mostly because it's superimposed with the loud guitar stabs).
- The Sugarcubes' "Deus" probably counts, although by the time the supposedly non-existent deity has apparently got into the bath with Einar, your guess is as good as anyone's. And no, Bjork's parts of the song do not help clear up matters.
- "Prayer" by Disturbed was most heavily inspired by 9/11 and the problems in the world at the time of its writing, carrying themes of the tribulation and hardship piling up like some sadistic test. The overall idea is "It's gotten so bad that I've stopped caring, so go ahead and kill me, I dare you! You'll never sway me from my defiance of you, you petty bastard."
- The gruesome parody of the 23rd Psalm in Pink Floyd's "Sheep".
- The lyrics are ambiguously just anti-authoritarianism than being anti-religion specifically.
- "Dreadnaught" by Machinae Supremacy's lyrics boil down to "God Is Evil and He wants your nation to Take Over the World."
- "Remnant," in the story of its lyrics, also accuses God of allowing (or even causing) the March of the Undead to occur.
- Possibly the least angry type 1: Matthew Sweet's "Divine Intervention" pulls a Holding Out for a Hero in the chorus, questions God's benevolence ("I look around/And all I see is destruction"), and basically sums up its entire message with "I cannot understand my God/I don't know why it gets to me".
- If any Rush song comes closest to being Type I, it would be Faithless. Either that, or Sweet Miracle. YMMV.
- Alice in Chains' "God Am".
- Andrew Jackson Jihad's "Rejoice."
- "God Help Me" by Emilie Autumn is about losing faith in God.
- YMMV on that, though, as the lyrics suggest more of a lost faith in the world around the singer or a lost faith in one person in particular.
- "Tomorrow Wendy" by Andy Prieboy (and covered by Concrete Blonde) is about a woman who's dying of AIDS, and is a furious rant against God's inability to do anything to help (sample lyrics: "I told the priest/Don't count on any second coming/God got his ass kicked/The first time he came down here slumming"). One of the saddest, angriest songs ever written.
- "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)" by Randy Newman. Maybe. The song depicts a deity that is utterly unsympathetic to mankind's suffering due to the atrocities we visit upon one another, and does nothing to help. However, as with any Newman song it is difficult to tell whether he is being facetious. (It's also worth noting that another song on the album, "Old Man," explicitly disavows the idea of God and an afterlife, but it does not qualify as a Religion Rant Song).
- "Godsaid" by Todd Rundgren. "Beloved Infidel" might also qualify.
- Abney Park's "Virus" is a Type 2 that makes Christianity sound like, well, a virus that turns people into zombies.
- "Stigmata Martyr" counts too, about Jesus being controlled by his followers.
- Bad Religion (naturally) has "Requiem for Dissent," which is a low-key Type 2.
- Of course, this trope is basically BR's bread and butter, even though the bandmembers' actual views of religion are decidedly more charitable than many think.
- Jethro Tull's "Wind-Up" is a Type 2, especially against indoctrination of children.
- Connor Oberst's "When the president talks to God" (type 2, by way of Take That, George W. Bush)
- The Dead Kennedys: "Religious vomit", aka "All religions suck" (type 2, at least, and about as subtle as you'd expect.
- "God Rest Ye Unitarians" God Rest Ye, Unitarians" is pretty clearly Type 2.
- Jill Sobule, "Letting Go of God" - Type 2ish, but very amicable. Written to accompany Julia Sweeney's one woman show of the same name. Both the show and the song focus much more on Sweeney's own search for her own beliefs than any sort of anger or resentment.
Sweeney (to her image of God): "It's not you; it's me."
- "God Said" from Leonard Bernstein's Mass is more of a Type 2 example.
God made us the boss.
God gave us the cross.
We turned it into a sword
To spread the Word of the Lord.
We use His holy decrees
To do whatever we please. (Yeah!)
And it was good! (Yeah!)
And it was good! (Yeah!)
And it was goddamn good!!!
- MC Hawking, "What We Need More of is Science" and "Fuck the Creationists" - Type 2.
- Sam Philips "I need love" (non-atheist type 2: "I need God, not the political church", later covered by Sixpence None the Richer)
- Public Image Ltd: "Religion I", "Religion II", "Annalisa" (type 2). The two former are inspired by Lydon's anger at the handling of his mother's request for last rites. The latter is based on a true story that also inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose. That film is sympathetic towards the exorcists. Lydon's view, meanwhile:
"Think I'm proud to be your enemy
Take your hands off of me
You're worse than the thing that possessed me."
- "Still a Lie" - Type 2.
- Tim Minchin has done quite a few of these, including "If You Open Your Mind Too Much, Your Brain Will Fall Out" (Type 2), "Pope Song" (Type 3) and "Ten Foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins" (A mixture of all three).
- Tori Amos again: "Crucify" (type 2), "Icicle" (type 2/3 with side of Take That by way of A Date with Rosie Palms)
- Violet UK 's "Sex and Religion" is either a type 2 calling out religion as merely another form of sexual masochism or a type 3 Take That at a religious con artist that ensnared the songwriter's friend into a cult.
- The theme of Epica's The Divine Conspiracy. Unless it's not (someone confirm?)
- Not The Divine Conspiracy specifically but Mark Jansen has always loved this trope even when he was with After Forever.
- Tom Lehrer: "Vatican Rag", which pokes fun at Catholic Dogma and the Second Vatican Council's attempts at reform.
- Spitting Image: "Atheist Choir" and "My God Is Bigger Than Your God"
- The latter also seems to be telling the agnostics and athiests off for fighting back and making the situation worse, instead of just getting on with things.
- Sportin' Life's big number, "It Ain't Necessarily So", from Porgy and Bess.
- Basically every song by industrial band Vigilante falls under here.
- Voltaire's song "God Thinks" is a Take That against all those who are "self-righteous, judgmental, first to throw the stone/using his name, for your own agenda."
- "Shallow Be Thy Game" by Red Hot Chili Peppers is a take that at organized religion in general, but mainly the Catholic church. It's a non-atheist example though, as it does contain the lyric "Your hell is something scary, I prefer a living God".
- Subverted in that the band have practised religions other than Christianity. The song "Falling Into Grace" is essentially a love song but sounds similar to Hindu meditation and even has "om" in it. The band have a guru on tour and Anthony practices Kabbalah Meditation (an offshoot of Judaism).
- The Fall's "Hey Luciani" is an odd(ish) example, as you'd expect, being pro-John Paul I and accusing the Church of being corrupt and killing him off.
- Los Campesinos! don't really hold anything back on this front. See the "I learned more from toilet stalls" lyric in "We've Got Your Back (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #2)" .
- John Lennon's "Imagine" is about as non-angry a Type 2 example as you can get, as it's mainly a song about peace, with religion and the wars fought over it being a primary obstacle to that peace. Of course, the song seems to imply that all war would vanish if religion did, making Lennon a bit of an Idealist. Having said that, Lennon would have been very pissed off with the modern-day antireligious crowd for using that song in flamewars. Oh the irony.
- The aptly titled "God" says that "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." and that "I just believe in me, Yoko and me."
- Metallica's "The God That Failed" is a Type 2 rail against blind faith, with the lyrics and song material inspired by James Hetfield's anguish about the circumstances surrounding the death of his mother, who refused medical treatment of her cancer and solely relied on the belief that God would heal her.
- At the Gates is all over this trope.
- The In Flames song "Goliaths Disarm their Davids" is about trying to free oneself from religion, calling it "a mess of psychotic chaos that once I mistook myself."
- Machinae Supremacy has Violator, which is a Take That towards blind faith and the society it creates.
- "A View From the End of the World" has another Take That which not-so-subtly claims that if there were no religion, there would be no wars and much more technological progress.
- Franz Ferdinand gives us the interesting example of "The Fallen", which is actually addressed to Jesus; he's apparently back and the speaker's happy to see him. As Alex Kapranos (who read Theology at the University of Glasgow for a year) would have it, Jesus Was Way Cool, and were he alive to day, would be hanging with the poor and downtrodden, and not the self-declared Christians drinking champagne and riding in limousines. (In other words, the last Christian died on the Cross, and Christ is so unlike the Christians).
- Rush has several songs that protest organized religion and superstitions without being atheistic. Freewill protests the concepts of predestination and astrology. Totem pokes fun at various practices of various organized religions. Compare with Prime Mover, which is a Deist song that mentions something (likely someone) behind the scenes in the universe (setting clouds in motion) while allowing humans autonomy.
- Frank Zappa: About a third of You Are What You Is is either a 2 or a 3:
- "Dumb All Over". Clearly giving a Take That to all religion, so mostly Type 2, with a little Type 1 on the side.
We can't be dumb if we're just following God's orders. He put it right in this book here that he made us all to be just like Him. So if we're dumb, then God is dumb, and maybe a little ugly on the side.
- "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing", It's all right there in the title. Type 2.
Some take the Bible for what it's worth
When it says that the meek shall inherit the Earth
But I Heard that some Sheik just bought New Jersey last week
And you suckers ain't gettin' nothing.
- Amon Amarth's "Slaves Of Fear"
- Everything by Fleshgod Apocalypse.
- Exodus' "Shroud Of Urine" and "Children Of A Worthless God"
- Sabaton's "Burn Your Crosses"
- Motorhead's "(Don't Need) Religion"
- "Religion Song (Put Away The Gun)" by Everything Else.
- Much of God Hates Us All and Christ Illusion by Slayer, functioning as Kerry King Tracts which, surprisingly, are voiced by a Catholic, frontman Tom Araya. The follow-up, 2009's World Painted Blood, toned this down a lot more, avoiding the subject of religion outside of one or two songs. Their material in The Eighties did talk about religion too, but from a Rock Me, Asmodeus standpoint.
- Hurt's "Rapture" and "Talking to God".
- Leonard Bernstein: "Things Get Broken," the Celebrant's BSOD Song, is more or less Type 3.
- Metallica's "Leper Messiah" and Insane Clown Posse's "Hellelujah" are Type 3, attacking religious con-artists who fleece their flock in the monetary sense.
- The Beatles' "Sexy Sadie", Take That from John to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
- Most of Judas' numbers in Jesus Christ Superstar tend to fall here, though they could also be read as type 1.
- Bob Dylan's "Jokerman" makes fun of The Bible and religious figures in it.
- "My God" and "Hymn 43" by Jethro Tull; the latter containing the line If Jesus saves/well he better save himself/from the gory glory seekers/who use his name in death!
- Earthsuit's "Against the Gain" is a (very clearly) non-Atheist example, although it probably ruffled a few feathers at Sparrow Records all the same. "I've been sent to your boat to rock it/men flood Hell while your hands are in your pocket/Separate from the life source and endorse and force secret religious codes like Morse/Constraints, why do you seize us/Just give me Jesus!" (It does omit the demo version's cry of "Stupid religion!", possibly just for stylistic reasons.)
- Ray Stevens' "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex" is a very religious rant against televangelists.
- Jesus He Knows Me by Genesis, all about televangelists.
- REM's "New Test Leper" could be considered as part of Type 3. I can't say that I love Jesus/That would be a hollow claim/He did make some observations/And I quoted them today/"Judge not lest ye be judged"/What a beautiful refrain/The studio audience disagrees/Have His lambs all gone astray?
- Limp Bizkit's "The Priest", in response to the Catholic sex scandals.
- Rush has BU 2 B which is protesting spiritual leaders shoving down specific dogmas down people's throats- not so much belief in a higher power.
- Death's "Spiritual Healing" is an attack on televangelists and faith healers, particularly the infamous Peter Popoff.
- Tool's "Opiate" is an attack framed around Marx's famous assertion ("Religion is the opiate of the masses.")
- Frank Zappa tends to be even more brutal in his Type 3 songs than his Type 2. "Heavenly Bank Account" on You Are What You Is is about Televangelists in general whereas "Token of My Extreme" on Joe's Garage is about a Religious Leader name of L. Ron Hoover. Not real transparent, that. And then there are the live versions one can find of "Penguin in Bondage" and "Lonesome Cowboy Jim (Nee Burt)" about Jimmy Swaggart and his failure to live up to his own preaching.
Where's my Prostitute?
- Dream Theater's song In the Name of God, which argues against violence and morally wrong acts comitted in the name of God.
- "Godless" by Danzig is a rant against organized religion.
- "Holy Smoke" by Iron Maiden deals with televangelist scandals of The Eighties, alluding to Jimmy Swaggart and Tammy Faye Bakker among others.
- Epica is embraces this trope. "Cry For The Moon" is about the catholic priest incidents and "The Divine Conspiracy" (Album and song itself) also criticizes the negative aspects of all religions and points out that they have a lot more in common then they believe.
- The Embrace That Smothers which theme is "the danger involved in organized religion." The songs therefore contain ideas that could be considered "anti-religious". which they share with After Forever (Mark Jansen was a former member).
- "Haleluja" by Rammstein is about pedophilia among Catholic priests - "he knows what it means to love his neighbour/turn around slowly, turn around"...
- Roy Zimmerman's song "Jerry Falwell's God" is a Take That against the evangelical precaher Jerry Falwell.
Examples Within Other Media:
- Moral Orel: Orel was cast as Judas and had to do a song about hating Jesus. He ended up giving such a blockbuster performance that people began singing "I hate you Jesus, you rotten little fink!" in church.
- The Simpsons' "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" song comes close to this, with at least a few moments of overlap. Since Ned is basically the nicest person in town , this is Played for Laughs. (Note that Flanders is singing himself at one point.)