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Pop's Biggest Religious Controversies

by Dan Weiss

Pop's Biggest Religious Controversies

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Rock 'n' roll is famously "the devil's music," but only a few artists outside of death metal have embraced the truly sacrilegious aspects of the idol worship that comes with such a towering appreciation of music. Most recently, Lady Gaga has come under fire for sexualizing religious imagery, in her videos, in "Judas" and in ARTPOP's lead-off track, "Aura," which has generated a lot of hate for its portrayal of a Muslim woman inviting the listener to peek underneath her burqa.

But Gaga has a long history of MTV heroes on her side, from Madonna's "Like a Prayer" to Nas' "Hate Me Now" clip, featuring him and the then-Puff Daddy nailed to crosses. Public Enemy infamously referenced the Jews and the crucifixion in the embattled "Welcome to the Terrordome," which is more or less one of rap's greatest songs; Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin" and Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" bring the big guy into the bedroom. Black Sabbath showed no signs of their satanic reputation slowing on their reunited "God Is Dead?", and Lou Reed frequently referenced Jesus and heroin in the same breath. Against Me!'s "White Crosses" and Green Day's "Jesus of Suburbia" appropriated Biblical imagery for political criticism, while indie rapper Mac Lethal's "Jihad!" skewers every theist under the sun.

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