Believers Rock Out at Colombia’s Heavy Metal Church

Some may find it blasphemous, but for the members of Pantokrator Church in Bogota, Colombia, Heavy Metal is a form of pure devotional worship. I know it’s pretty hard to associate screaming and head banging with the serene image of Jesus, but somehow, the 40-member-strong church is able to make the connection.

I wouldn’t blame you if you took one look at the people gathered here and assumed it was for some kind of satanic ritual. What else could one expect, with people dressed in black clothes, army boots with metal spikes and weird body piercings. But nothing good has ever really come out of stereotyping people. So a deeper look does reveal that the church-goers at Pantokrator (Greek for ‘All Powerful’), are pretty serious about their faith. The founder of the church is 24-year-old Cristian Gonzalez, who is also a heavy metal drummer. According to Cristian, it’s perfectly normal to worship through heavy metal music, when Jesus himself got involved with people no matter what their condition – prostitutes, thieves or tax collectors.

Photo © AP/Fernando Vergara

Unfortunately, not everyone shares his views on the subject and the church remains unrecognized for now. Senior leaders of various traditional churches have criticized the concept of Pantokrator. According to Fabian Marulanda, a respected leader of the Christian Catholic Church of Colombia, liturgy needs to be conducted with seriousness and sobriety, and expressions should be dignified rather than overwhelmed. Others feel that the messages put forth through such means about the Bible could be confusing.

Photo © AP/Fernando Vergara

Meanwhile, the followers of the heavy metal church are far from discouraged. They meet every Saturday night on the second floor of a house, above a paint store. The services are a mix of traditional mass and metal that has biblical themes. The rosaries are made from chains and the bibles lined with denim. As the music reaches a crescendo, praises of the Lord are sung. Cristian asserts, “If Jesus were alive today, he would be neither a guerilla nor a metalhead. He would accept everyone without distinction and without reproach to anyone.” Can’t really argue with that!

 


   

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