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Skillet's John Cooper says he was promised fame if he stopped talking about Jesus

John Cooper
John Cooper, 2021 |

John Cooper, the frontman of the popular Christian rock band Skillet, has recalled the moment he was promised more fame if he would stop talking about Jesus Christ.

The 46-year-old musician was featured on a Focus on the Family broadcast Monday, where he shared an encounter that occurred over a decade ago and marked a “turning point for his career.”

"After a gig, we were on tour with some mainstream acts — very popular acts. We were opening," Cooper told Focus on the Family.

"And we were just beginning to kind of hit a little bit [in popularity]. This guy, in his defense, he was being very nice. … And he pulled me aside, and he said, 'John, I want to tell you this because no one else is going to tell you. You guys, I believe, could be the biggest band in the world. … You guys have the look, you've got the sound, you've got girls in your band. … And you guys also sing about very spiritual things.' … And he's saying, people really want spiritual music, and 'you've already got it, you've been doing it.'"

In his new book, Awake and Alive to Truth, Cooper described the man as an agent, a promoter and a music businessman who was a "mover and shaker." 

"And he said, 'So it's your time. But you have got to disassociate from Christianity. You've got to stop talking about Jesus so much. … Don't do Christian interviews. Don't do Christian music festivals. If people ask you what your songs are about, I'm not telling you to lie. Just don't offer up the information about Jesus,'” he continued.

"Then he said something else. And this is what got me, and this is what I think is interesting,” Cooper continued during his Focus on the Family broadcast. “He said, 'But John, think about the good you could do for your faith. If you got rich and famous, think about what you could do for Jesus, if you stop talking about Jesus.'"

Cooper said that phrase was the "turning point” of his career.

"I went to the bus. I told my wife about the conversation. We prayed about it. And it was … almost instantaneous. I know that that is not the Lord. He was trying … to get me to be quiet, and it had the opposite effect.”

A decade later, Skillet is now a Grammy Award-nominated, multi-platinum band. Cooper has a popular YouTube series in which he is very outspoken about his faith and shares his thoughts about current events.

In an episode of Abby Johnson’s podcast "Politely Rude" released in August, Cooper revealed the motivation behind his boldness. He said he was shocked to find that many people no longer believe in absolute truth and called the changes unfolding in culture "scary." 

“We need to be extremely vigilant about the Word of God,” he emphasized. “We need to be extremely vigilant about what the Bible says because if we are not, then we will begin to read the Bible with that same sort of relativism. And when you do that, you're not starting from a premise that the Word of God is absolute, that God's Word is supreme.”

“What happens in relativism is you say, ‘No, I am supreme. My feelings are supreme. My experience is the brain. I can find truth in my heart,’” Cooper added. “Then I look through that filter at the Word of God, and then I shape the Word of God to meet my needs. So we need to be extremely vigilant about this because it is wrecking Christianity.”

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