A number of community members gathered in Midland, Texas Friday night to "pray" over GHOST's upcoming concert in the city. They were there to "plead the blood of Christ" out of their concern that the Swedish metal band was bringing dark spiritual influences into the area.
GHOST, known for its overt Satanic themes and face-concealing masks and costumes, is scheduled to perform at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center on Monday (November 19), and Midland pastor Larry Long, who took part in the gathering, told "The Morning Show With Craig Anderson" on the KWEL AM 1070 FM 107.1 radio station that he was was surprised to find out that the venue had agreed to book the outfit.
"I was in a prayer group yesterday afternoon, so I didn't learn about it until yesterday morning; I saw a Facebook post from a friend of mine," Long said (hear audio below). "But it was during the time that we were spending in prayer, a group of us, that it [was] just really impressed upon me that we need to speak out against this. I don't know that we can stop the band from coming — I don't know how that works — but this is very concerning to me. And I'm not so much concerned about the band as I am about the fact that Wagner Noël didn't have better sense than to sign this band. What are those people thinking? Are they a part of our community? Do they care what the majority of our community might think about something like that. It's quite remarkable to me that they would even sign a band like that."
The pastor admitted that he was bothered by some of the messages that are included in GHOST's lyrics. "Sure, I'm concerned about the content of the band," he said. "We have a freedom of religion in America, which means a freedom of irreligion and anti-Christian faith, if that's what people want to do. And so, from that sense, yes, the band bothers me. But I'm not in favor of outlawing the band per se; what I'm in favor is finding out from Wagner Noël what in the world they're thinking… I don't know what Wagner Noël can do once they sign that contract, but for Heaven's sakes, they need better sense than this. And I think the community should be alarmed about it. This is not healthy for our community. Because we Christians believe the devil is real, so when you have a devil-worshipping band… And I'm sure the band believes the devil's real; I doubt that they're just doing this as a part of their shtick for music and music they produce and so on. And if you were to read some of the lyrics of their songs, they're really quite disturbing."
Long went on to relay a GHOST-related story that he had come across on the Internet that, in his view, demonstrated just how infernal the band's mission is.
"Here's something interesting that I read when I was doing some research on the band," he said. "When they came to America and went to Nashville to cut their album, they couldn't find anybody that would sing with them on their album, because the content of their music is so demonic. So they had trouble finding people to sing. Here's the funny thing: they couldn't cut their album in Nashville, so they had to travel out to California to find people to be willing to sing the devil's music. [Laughs]"
Asked by host Craig Anderson to address some of the specific lyrical themes that are covered on GHOST's albums that he has taken issue with, the pastor said: "There's [a] song about… What's it called? 'Satan's Hammer'? Something about a hammer. And it talks about the fact that the person singing the song is seeking a relationship with the devil. And if young people go to a concert like this and they think it's all just good fun — kind of like Halloween, so to speak — and so, 'This is all just good fun,' and 'Don't make such a big deal out of it,' I think if they're singing along to those lyrics, who knows what in the world they're opening their hearts and lives up to?"
Long also talked about GHOST's image, which revolves around leader Tobias Forge — who played the role of Papa Emeritus, a satanic, anti-pope iconoclast with a zombie-like face, over the course of three albums before Cardinal Copia emerged as the leader prior to the band's most recent LP, "Prequelle" — backed by an anonymous cast of creatures who all wear black and their faces are completely obstructed by large masks with demonic-looking horns.
"The main band leader goes by the name of Tobias; whether or not that's his real name, who knows?" Long said. "And then the rest of 'em go by 'ghoulish horde' or something like that. Of course, you see this kind of stuff and you say, 'Well, how much of this…? Do they understand?' I think that they understand all of it. I think that they are doing this intentionally, and I think they really do worship the devil, because I believe… as a Christian, as a biblical Christian, I believe the devil's real. So I imagine maybe some people listening right now would say, 'Oh, you guys are getting overblown with this,' and those kinds of things. Well, you would only think that if you didn't think the devil was real."
Several community members told CBS7 they reached out to the Wagner Noël, but did not get their questions answered.
The performing arts center released a statement to CBS7 saying: "Shock rock has been a part of the heavy metal landscape from the early days of Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. Each performer bringing to the stage their own version of a cruel world. GHOST, with their album's No. 3 spot on the Billboard charts, is continuing in those metal bands' footsteps."
The statement continues: "The venue is dedicated to offering a variety of performances that appeal to different audiences."
Larry Long interviewed on "The Morning Show With Craig Anderson" on the KWEL AM 1070 FM 107.1 radio station (audio embedded from KWEL.com):
CBS7 video report on Friday's community prayer: