In a new interview with "The Paula Faris 'Faith & Calling' Podcast", John Cooper, the frontman and bassist for the Grammy-nominated Christian rock band SKILLET, spoke about his intensely strict religious upbringing where all pop music, black clothes and even Christian rock music was banned. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I am the product of an incredibly faithful mom. My mom was a Jesus fanatic. I'm talking about everywhere we went, my mom was sharing Jesus with every single person at the grocery store. I am a product of a very faithful, praying mom, but I do think that my childhood did have a lot of what I would consider to be a little fundamentalist, a little bit of that legalism and maybe a lot of fear — a lot of fear of what's gonna happen in the world, rather than focusing on the fact that we can be full of God's presence in order that we would be a light going into the darkness."
He continued: "My mom passed away when I was 15, so a lot of this kind of got shaped after that, I would say, taking my mom's zeal, my mom's passion and my mom's love for the Bible and realizing that I'm so thankful for her, even though there are some things that I don't think we'd disagree on now if she was alive because I think that she was on this journey — she was on this journey to what I would consider to be a more liberating place in the spirit as opposed to the opposite."
Asked how he reconciled the fact that his mom once said that rock music was the tool of the devil with him being the frontman of a successful rock band, Cooper said: "I will tell you something that I don't know if I've shared on a podcast before. And after 25 years, that's a big deal. I think the hardest thing about it was this: all right, my mom loved God, [and she] really believed that rock music was evil. I mean, the drums were Satanic, the guitars were Satanic, the long hair, the black [clothes] — the black was a sign of death. I mean, all of it. Christian music, to her mind, was even worse, because Christian music had all those aspects but it also had the deception — wolves in sheep's clothing — that Christian music was just like the worst thing in the world to my mom.
"How I worked through this was this: Having to come to terms with honoring your father and your mother, but at some point, I'm an adult. I'm 18 years old. God's called me to do something in my life, and I feel in my heart I've got this burning, burning desire to play music. And I believe that I want to do that because it's a calling from God — not just because my flesh wants it. I don't wanna be a rock god — I wanna be used by God to spread a message of hope through music.
"But here's the thing I haven't shared before," he continued. "On my mom's deathbed — she fought cancer for three years — I did not get to see her for the last nearly three weeks of her life. She didn't want me and my siblings to come see her because she thought that we would lose hope and we would lose faith and maybe we wouldn't be praying for her, and she wanted to be healed. So I did not see her, but I've been told in her last days and the last day [before] she passed away, she was beginning to have visions on her deathbed. Apparently one of the things that she said was, 'I'm so concerned for John. John is going to be used by the devil to play rock music. And John's going to help bring the king of darkness to the earth and this and that and the other' — because of rock music. That weighed very heavily on me because I respect my mom so much — she is the reason that I am who I am today.
"So to answer your question, how I worked through that. I was reading my Bible and I came to this remarkable passage," he added. "Do you remember when Jesus told this man to follow him, and the man said, 'I want to follow you. First, let me go home and bury my father.' And Jesus says, 'No, no, no. You let the dead bury the dead. You come follow me now.' The call is for now; the call is not for the future. I remember reading that when I was getting very serious about the Bible, when I was about 18, and I remember thinking, 'Is that what the call is like for me, I wonder.' And then I read another thing that Jesus says when he says, 'Anyone who's not willing to hate their father and mother for my sake is not worthy to be called a disciple.' I read that and I thought, 'Okay, I know that Jesus doesn't want me to hate my father and mother, but I wonder if what God is saying, through this passage of scripture, to me is that there comes a time when we have an ultimate authority. Yes, my mom and my dad are my authority, but they are under authority. All authority belongs to God. So if they are under authority and God tells me that I am supposed to go do something as an adult, then it's right for me to circumvent a wrong authority that is acting outside of his godly bounds to obey the lord. God used that to totally shape my mind and to realize, okay, in the end, God's given me this dream. It was a passion — something I believe he wanted me to do for his name's sake. And so that's my story."
This past April, Cooper told the "Undaunted.Life: A Man's Podcast" that it was perfectly fine for Christians to play rock music. "I would say that music is created not by the Devil; [it is] created by the Lord," he said. "All things were created by God. So instead of thinking that the Devil owns a genre of music, I would say capture that music and bring it back into subjection under the lordship of Christ."
Cooper recently published his first book, titled "Awake & Alive To Truth (Finding Truth In The Chaos Of A Relativistic World)". It "tackles the reigning philosophies of our day of post-modernism, relativism, and the popular view of the goodness of man-and combats these viewpoints by standing on the absolute truth of the Word Of God," the book's description reads.
In various interviews over the years, Cooper has said that he "always had faith in God." He also claimed that he was willing to put his career on the line to take a stand for Christ.