You’re My Scum Sweetheart: Audio Adrenaline, Contemporary Christian Music, and White Jesus

Research Paper
Author:Duncan, Sally, Arts & Sciences GraduateUniversity of Virginia

The two decades on either side of the turn of the 21st century in the United States have in large part been politically defined by white evangelicalism. This political power depended on mass mobilization of people, and evangelical teenage pop culture was an important part of this mobilization.

This thesis examines the music and mission of evangelical Christian rock band Audio Adrenaline to explore how the Christian music industry, although releasing music that appeared to be race neutral, was actually used to turn evangelical millennials into white culture warriors and saviors. At a time when white evangelicals were using the court system, ballot box, and churches to actively fight a culture war in order to consolidate white conservative political power, promoting an evangelical Jesus meant promoting whiteness.

A close reading of lyrics and album themes, as well as analysis of a 40 year relationship between the band and the nation of Haiti reveals how the culture of the times and the power dynamics of the Christian music industry establish dominant white cultural boundaries around faith. The albums created by Audio Adrenaline contain lyrics that are permeated by references to colonialism, wealth, power, innocence, and a defiant sense of persecution. The Jesus they describe often seems to resemble a white American god, and the lack of awareness about this means that despite claims to being counter-cultural, this music maintains the status quo of a white supremacist society. The disparity between the intention to promote the Jesus of the Bible and the impact of doing so in an industry designed to promote whiteness might help explain why today evangelical membership is declining, while the problems caused by white supremacy are not.

Contemporary Christian Music, American Studies, Audio Adrenaline
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
University of Virginia
Published Date:
April 24, 2020
Sponsoring Agency:
American Studies Distinguished Majors Program