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Understanding Pop Culture's Notorious Relationship with the Church, Blasphemy and Antichrist

Welcome to the 230th insertion of DEMUR®, an analytical series highlighting the intricacies of the artistic world and the minutiae lying within. In this episode, we look at pop culture's sinful history with the Church, remembering controversial adaptations of faith inside music, art and film.

From the culminating days of artistic expression, religion has played an integral role. Spoken through the chanting verses of ancient hymns and seen in thousands of hand-painted depictions, the cross-section between faith and creativity has maintained a persistent and powerful aura. However, amid religion's decline, we've witnessed many examples of blasphemy, all with heavily mixed reception.

We can trace this narrative's origin to the 'anti-establishment' Rock 'n Roll era, beginning with industry figureheads such as John Lenon and XTC, who released contentious singles like 'Imagine' (1971) and 'Dear God' (1986). Sharing dream-like ideals in religion-ridden worlds, this music influenced decades of free-thinking while spawning thousands of artists who dared to display their ideas.

Andres Serrano is one of many rebellious artists that followed this movement, as displayed in his 1987 work 'Piss Christ.' This controversial piece featured a small plastic crucifix submerged in a cup of his urine and faced overwhelming backlash as the government-funded project incited outrage in religious and tax-payer communities.

Reflected for decades through the likes of Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, and Slayer, these tropes of anti-Christ only became more prevalent as we bled closer to the turn of the century. Black metal, a sub-set of heavy metal, began adopting Satanism as an overall theme, which was is heard in the echos of Manson's persona. In the '90s, celebrities like Kurt Cobain also further emphasized atheist practices, as he was famously arrested for spray-painted 'God is Gay' under a bridge.

In the present day, examples of blasphemy shine through Madonna’s banned "Like a Prayer" music video and Kendrick Lamar's $3 million Crown of Thorns - not to mention the countless artists allegedly selling their souls.

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