Michael Sweet, singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of the openly Christian hard rock band STRYPER, says that he is tired of "being judged" by people who question his commitment to God.
Even though STRYPER's third album, 1986's "To Hell With The Devil", made him and his bandmates the first contemporary Christian act to score a platinum album, the group has often felt unwelcome in Christian circles, with some members of the church feeling that Christianity and heavy metal are incompatible.
Earlier today, Sweet posted a message on his Facebook page in which he expressed his frustration with other members of the Christian community, saying that he is "committed to Christ" and vowing to always believe "in His faith and His salvation."
Michael wrote: "Without getting into details, I'm so very tired of feeling and or being judged. I don't go to church as often as I should. I don't read my bible as often as I should. I like an occasional bourbon. I like an occasional cigar. I may drop a few F bombs when I get heated. I am, however, sold out to Christ. So much so that I've been willing to take the heat from people who don't know me for my entire life. And I'm willing to continue taking it. Why? Because I'm committed to Christ. I'm a believer in His faith and His salvation and that will never change.
"To me, none of the above means anything when it comes to faith. Sadly, many people think that it does. They place others' spirituality on a scale to be weighed by how often one goes to church, how often one reads the word, how often one prays. On the other side of the scale how little one swears, drinks, smokes or Lord knows what else. None of that matters to God. What does matter is how sold out you are. Are you willing to commit your life, your job, your work to Him? I am.
"So for all the judgmental folks out there — find a mirror, look into it and start tearing that person apart. You might be surprised by what you find."
In a 2018 interview with the Detroit Free Press, Michael said that STRYPER was never fully embraced by the heavy metal and hard rock communities, largely because of the band's Christian lyrics.
"We've never been accepted by either side," he said. "The secular side, the mainstream, they've never accepted us to this day. We're probably that band that everyone's going to go to whenever there's a time to mock. We'll be the band used for that in most cases. Now on the Christian side, we've never really had the full support of the Christian side because we don't fit into their little club. We're not wearing suits and ties and going to every church and preaching."
STRYPER will return to the road in May for the 2019 "History Tour - Greatest Hits & Covers That Influenced Our Generation". The trek comes on the heels of the band's yearlong "God Damn Evil" world tour, which concluded in Japan in February.
Formed 36 years ago, STRYPER's name comes from Isaiah 53:5, which states: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
STRYPER's albums include "To Hell With The Devil", "Second Coming", "No More Hell To Pay", "Fallen" and the band's latest effort, "God Damn Evil".