Mike Pence, finding God, and the shifting agenda of Christian music festivals

The vice-president found religion during a festival, but while he might not be softening his beliefs, those involved in the scene are hoping a more progressive atmosphere might combat dwindling attendance “Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me,” says a bearded man in cut-off shorts standing atop a floodlit stage as hundreds of youths look on. “Lord Jesus, you can have my life.” Teenagers in Avenged Sevenfold shirts with bandanas wrapped around their faces bow their heads and pray together. And then the double-time kickdrum drops in, the guitars start chugging, and the mosh pit resumes. This is a scene from Creation North East in Pennsylvania, the biggest Christian music festival in the world. Although obscured from much of the mainstream populace, the subculture of Christian music festivals draws millions of people together every year. Today’s bigger Christian music festivals – the Creation festivals, SonShine in Minnesota, LifeLight in South Dakota, the Spirit Festivals of the west coast – model themselves after a God-fearing rendition of a Bonnaroo or Coachella, with live performances and DJ sets, camping and food, but with the addition of large- scale prayer gatherings and seminars for religious learning. Over the past three decades, the phenomenon has played a central role in the propagation of contemporary American Christianity. In fact, the influence of Christian music festivals runs all the way up to the White House. Continue reading...