Friday, February 19, 2010
More On Morons: The Peters Brothers and "The Truth About Rock" Resurrected
Jim (left) and Steve Peters about to add a Cars album to the pyre.
(Photo by: Tom Zito - Rolling Stone Magazine)
(Image via: NYCDreamin Archives)
Yesterday, I wrote about the time in 1983 when Kiss came to Minnesota and were met head on by religious zealots who disagreed with the Kiss "message" and life style and tried, unsuccessfully, to convert the band to their way of thinking. Today, via an article from the February 19, 1981 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, we take a closer look at these men, The Peters Brothers, and their message of religious intolerance.
"Rock Is Unrighteous? - Great Balls of Fire!"
by Tom Zito
Rolling Stone Magazine - 02/19/81
For the past year or so, brothers Jim and Steve Peters, both ordained ministers, have been traveling around the nation on a mission from God. Convinced that rock and roll is "one of the largest satanic forces in the country," they have been exhorting American kids to build bonfires of albums in public places - "real keggers," says Jim Peters in the parlance of his native Minnesota.
These crusading brothers estimate that at least $500,000 worth of records, tapes and paraphernalia by Kiss, Ted Nugent, the Cars, the Eagles, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Blondie, Linda Ronstadt, Led Zeppelin, John Denver, et al. have gone up in smoke (or at least their album jackets have; because vinyl smolders acridly, the records themselves are smashed and discarded).
In some places this might be considered fanaticism, an appelation that bothers Pastor Steve not at all. "Some people considered Jesus a fanatic," he notes. "Lord, we thank you for America , which let's us give witness to you in the way we do," says Pastor LeRoy Peters (father of Steve and Jim), a born-again heating contractor who accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior thirty-four years ago. He is offering a prayer before the weekend burning at the Zion Christian Life Center in North St. Paul, where two of his sons conduct their firey antirock ministry. (Just a few months ago, their church was the Silver Skate Roller Rink.)
About 100 pilgrims have gathered around the outdoor blaze, and through a bullhorn, Steve announces, "Knowing that the life styles, lyrics, intentions and album covers of many of the rock stars are perverse, immoral, profane and unscriptural, and that they often condone and/or promote indulgence in the same, we rid our lives of them tonight!"
With that, hundreds more albums are thrown upon the pyre, the heat forcing back many of the faithful.
The Peterses held about fifty antirock "seminars" last year, fourteen of which culminated in record burnings. Twenty-three seminars were already scheduled for January and February of this year, including several during an eleven day pilgrimage to Mexico City. Virtually all of the conflagrations are preceded by the Peterses' celebrated lecture, "What The Devil's Wrong With Rock Music," which features 140 slides, overhead projections of twenty-five transparencies and, on occasion, tapes of some of the current Hot Hundred.
Steve, 27, straight-faced and serious, coordinates the transparencies, which display Biblical quotations: "Be not deceived; evil company corrupts good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33). "The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire (Deuteronomy 7:25). There is also more homespun advice: "Warning to Christians: Listening to rock music will be harmful to your spiritual, emotional and mental health. We recommend gospel and Christian music only."
Jim, 24, is slightly more animated, with his fast, nasal twang: he handles the slides, which are usually color shots of album covers. A self-proclaimed professional drummer since age thirteen, occasionally playing with Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Jim has sophisticated insight into the black art of sound recording. A man who speaks about phasing and multi-track recording like a studio veteran, he proffers these clipped homilies:
*Mick Jagger is an avowed homosexual!
*Janis Joplin was an admitted bi-sexual and drug addict; if she hadn't died of drugs, venereal disease would have eaten her up!
*TM basically means peace without Jesus Christ!
*You may think that Barry Manilow is just Twinky music that makes you soft and mushy inside. He'll have to answer as to whether he influenced people to find Christ or remain lost!
*Jesus Christ Superstar is blasphemy; when Christ dies, he's in the grave. I know personally that Christ didn't remain in the grave - Buddha did. I'm sorry. Some of you may be crushed.
*The cover of an Alan Parsons Project album has girls with Syphilis sores on their faces cloaked by veils!
*John Denver says that with the help of his guru, he will become God!
*KISS stands for Kids in Service to Satan. Look into the eyes of Gene Simmons. he bible tells us that the eyes are the windows of the soul. Nobody's home there!
*The Eagles' "Hotel California" is about he Church of Satan. I mean, I don't know any other hotel where they'll let you check out but you can't leave!
Then there's Pastor Steve. "Young people," he warns, "you may like rock music. That still doesn't make it right. It only takes a few demons. And don't think we just mean a few demons hiding in a bongo drum over in Africa. (WHAT?!?) Hey, we're not condemning these musicians. Jesus died for them, too. They're all on my prayer list. Look at Bob Dylan. Be praying for him. He's accepted the Lord, but he's coming out of a lot of garbage."
The lecturing is interspersed with more scripture, an invitation to come forward to be born again, an offering collection (...of course!), an introduction for "two of the best 'missionaries' our church has ever produced" (an eight dollar set of cassettes, of which more than 3000 sets reportedly have been sold, some mailed as far away as Belgium, Australia and New Zealand) and impromptu remarks from Pastor Jim decrying, for instance, how TV has become the family altar.
These sentiments were instilled early on in the Peters Brothers by their mother, Josephine, who continues to counsel them. "I remember the day Danny [their older brother] brought home a Beach Boys record," says Josephine Peters. "I sensed it wasn't Christian. The Beach Boys just had a different message than we were used to in this house. We realized Satan was all around us. So we eliminated some things from this home, television for one."
"Some mothers complain to me about the burnings. They think they're too severe. Some say it reminds them of the burnings in Nazi Germany. I shouldn't say this, but when we were in high school, we thought Mr. Hitler had some pretty good ideas. He was particularly good in the sciences. But look at what happens without God. If Hitler had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior, he wouldn't have done anything wrong."
Steve interrupts: "Don't misunderstand mom. The only thing we have in common with Hitler is that we both use fire." (...and share an intolerance of of life styles and ideologies that differ from their own!)
When they were old enough, the Peters boys enrolled at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. Three years ago, Jim was writing a term paper entitled "How Music Creates Moods" for a course in music and worship. "I discovered," he says, "that what I was hearing was not being said. There were a lot of subliminal things going on in rock and roll. And I started thinking, 'Where do these guys get their inspiration?' You think about that and pretty soon it becomes obvious that it's not from the Lord."
About a year and a half ago, the two brothers heard a cassette of a minister preaching about he evils of rock. By this time, both had been ordained by the Jesus People Fellowship in Minneapolis and had become associate pastors at the Zion Christian Life Center, founded by their father, LeRoy Peters, in 1969. They held their first rock seminar in 1979 over Thanksgiving weekend. One hundred fifty kids turned out and burned $15,000 worth of records.
The brothers soon had to figure out how to deal with the media attention. "We were getting calls from the local newspapers and television stations," says Steve. "We didn't know whether to talk to the media or not. Mom, she's really the person behind all our good works. Mom remembered a time before Billy Graham had hit it big, when [William Randolph] Hearst had told his reporters to punch Billy Graham. And mom said talking to the media is an excellent way to witness to thousands of people you could never meet otherwise."
"They just did a story on us in Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine with a picture of us and this local rock musician, Willie Murphy, of Willie and the Bees," Steve continues. "We're burning his albums, and he's putting the fire out with an extinguisher. His songs are so filthy!"
"Yeah," adds Jim. "One guy from a local TV station told us we really knew how to stage a media event. I didn't know what he was talking about - you don't learn that stuff in Bible College - and he explained: "Slow news time on the weekends, good visuals at burnings, the New Right. It's just the Lord's work to me."
More On The Morons:
Here's a great story about what went down at one of the Peters Brothers "Seminars" in Ohio from a member of an organization called Rock Out Censorship. This is very similar to what I witnessed and participated in when I had the opportunity to see The Peters Brothers a few times. I saw them do their "What The Devil's Wrong With Rock Music" seminar in three different towns in Minnesota during the mid-late 1980's, and each time I saw them, entire crews of teenaged kids turned up to heckle and torture these poor bastards all throughout their presentation.
Another great article on the Peters Brothers and their "Ministry" can be found at the Pagan Protection Center.
And from WFMU comes this informative piece looking at many of the anti-rock 'n' roll books and different propaganda items the Peters Brothers (and others) have produced over the years.