Michael Sweet of openly Christian rockers STRYPER says that he has never in his life seen so much negativity from supposed "fans" based on his most recent comments regarding politics.
Earlier in the week, Sweet defended his support of Donald Trump, saying that the real estate mogul "has done a lot of good things for America."
Despite the fact that he is twice divorced and has faced over two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct, Trump has continued to be white Christians' preferred candidate for this year's presidential election, with some insisting that the president is a Christian hero who is standing up for religious rights.
On Friday (November 6), Sweet took to his social media to post the following message: "I have never in my life seen so much negativity from supposed 'fans' based on my most recent comments regarding politics.
"I'm always respectful and I never name call and belittle. If someone comes here and goes off I won't hesitate to ban or block. Why? Not because I'm afraid to answer questions but because I'm tired of the negativity. I don't have time for it. I won't make time for it.
"Over the past few weeks I've seen so many fans say that they are done with me and or the band just because I've spoken out a few times about my choices and my opinions. Would you rather I shut my mouth and turn a blind eye? Would you rather I be a coward and a deceitful person and turn from my views and convictions? I never have so why would I start now? For me to remain silent and not talk about the things that I am passionate about and that I care about would go against all that I am.
"I've been on this earth for 57 years and I have never in my life seen so much separation, division & hatred. It comes from both sides and I see that and I am very aware of that. I have never implied that it's one-sided. Ever. I will also never just 'stick to music'. I made a choice 37 years ago to not just stick to music but to stand for Christ and to mix faith with music. You should know where I stand. You should not be surprised.
"I guess this is just the world that we are faced with. We cannot except [sic] other views and other opinions and we have to try to destroy and banish our friends and our families based on a difference of opinion. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't feel that it's ever been so bad. My intentions have never been to disrespect any of you. My heart has always been to help and to encourage and inspire. To lift up, not tear down. I've devoted my life to that and that is still my heart.
"I have always boldly spoken out about my convictions. This is nothing new. Once again, I try to do so with respect and that will never change. I'm a man of integrity (at least I'd like to think so) and I want to live my life exemplifying that. It's very sad to see that some people aren't able to handle someone being open and honest respectfully but I guess that's just the world that we live in.
"To everyone who has unfollowed me or who has stated that they are 'done' with me, I wish you well and I wish you all the best, sincerely. I do however hope & pray for a better world - a world where we can all come together despite our differences. Where we can listen to each other and hear each other out without shutting each other out. I know we have it in us and as I've always said, it starts with love.
"God bless you all, M".
Asked in a recent interview with Slabber.net why he voted for Trump in 2016 and why he believes Trump is a Christian, Sweet said: "I have put it out there already that I voted for Donald Trump four years ago. I voted for him because I had really become fed up with politicians. I feel like most, if not all, politicians are there to tell us what we want to hear so they can get into office, and once they get there they don't deliver. So, when Donald Trump came around, I thought, okay, this guy is not a politician and he's going to be different, and that's why I voted for him.
"I don't think his delivery is often good," Sweet continued. "I wish he would stay off Twitter. The way he presents himself, the way he speaks, and some of the things he says get under my skin as much as anyone else. But I do feel Donald Trump has done a lot of good things for America, especially for the economy.
"I think it's very easy to blame someone for the economy tanking due to a pandemic that's not their fault. This pandemic would have come along regardless of who the president is, and the economy would have tanked regardless. No president in the world could stop the coronavirus coming but Donald Trump has been easy to blame. I don't feel that is justifiable and I feel that it's wrong.
"Joe Biden is an example of someone using Trump and this virus to suit his agenda of getting into office," Michael added.
"There's a lot of people out there who don't like their boss, but their boss is in the that position because they do a good job for the company they work for. That's kind of how I view Donald Trump. I don't love everything he says or does, but I voted for him. But by saying all of that, and being Michael Sweet of STRYPER, that opens the door for me to be attacked. I'm okay with that. I'm not gonna run from what I do or say. I'm not afraid to be challenged for my decisions."
Back in November 2016, Sweet drew criticism from some STRYPER fans for posting a picture of Donald Trump and congratulating the real estate mogul for "working his ass off for the presidency of the United States of America."
In early March, Sweet praised Trump's actions that served to ramp up the federal government's response to the COVID-19 epidemic — even after Trump was criticized by some parts of the media for downplaying fears about COVID-19 or actively spreading misinformation about its repercussions.
This past May, Sweet said that he would like to see his band represented by Trump's fourth White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.
In October, Sweet praised Amy Coney Barrett, who narrowly won confirmation to fill the vacancy left by the death in September of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for answering questions during confirmation hearings "with poise, grace, patience, humility and intelligence."
Barrett has close ties to People Of Praise, a charismatic Christian religious group which has conservative stances on the role of women in society and other social issues. Former members of the group say it teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands.
According to The Washington Post, 65 percent of Republicans are white Christians, but white Christians account for only 38 percent of Democrats.