A former Christian singer who came out as lesbian almost ten years ago has issued highly critical comments about the Contemporary Christian Music industry – comments that a veteran of Christian radio says are unfounded.
The City of Nashville last week erected a historic marker (pictured) in front of Koinonia Coffeehouse, the cradle of contemporary Christian music. Early CCM artists Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith were asked to share memories. More than 200 people attended the unveiling of the historic marker.
But one singer who didn't speak at the event was Jennifer Knapp, the smoky-voiced singer/songwriter who broke on the scene in 1998, ultimately won four Dove awards, and sold more than a million albums. Knapp later chose to live as a lesbian, revealing in 2010 that she was "gay" and had been in an eight-year relationship with a woman.
On the occasion of last week's Koinonia honor, Knapp – in an opinion piece in the Tennessean – argued that the CCM industry helped to fuel an "ugly heritage of religious harm in the form of racism, homophobia, colonialization, patriarchy, and more" in evangelical Christian culture. Knapp co-wrote the op-ed with Nashville Metro council member Nancy VanReece, a founding member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Equality Project.
OneNewsNow spoke with Rick McConnell, who has worked in Christian radio since the 1970s and knows the music industry well.
"I have never seen that in CCM, I've never seen it in Christian radio," he says in reaction to Knapp's accusations. "I used to work at Focus on the Family – I just don't see it."
While McConnell admits he doesn't know Knapp, he says he's heard her complaints before.
"She's chosen a lifestyle – that is her choice," he shares. "But like a lot of people who choose that lifestyle, a gay lifestyle, sadly what they think is Well, everybody now has to just adjust and follow me. And the Word of God doesn't allow for that."
He says despite several Christian singers embracing homosexuality over the years, CCM has yet to yield to pressure to celebrate the unbiblical lifestyle – but the Christian radio veteran warns it could be coming.
"There is an ongoing battle in the Church [over the issue of sexuality], so it would not surprise me if it leaked over into Christian music," he laments.
McConnell's daily radio program airs on KCFY in Yuma, Arizona.