Sufjan Stevens Brands Himself a Hypocrite With Offensive Antireligious Comment

It felt like a sucker punch. Surfing the web, discovering what’s new in the world of music (a lifelong passion and career for me) and I come across an interview with Sufjan Stevens, a singer/songwriter known for his indie sensibilities and his Christian faith.

In the very first paragraph of the article was a quote about his recent experience at the Oscars. He described it as “traumatizing” and then threw in a completely bigoted comment about Scientology that made no sense.

Sufjan Stevens performing
Sufjan Stevens performs in Bilboa, Spain. (Photo by Christian Bertrand/

Though he is a proud Christian and public defender of other faiths, Stevens’ willingness to lump Scientology into a category that has absolutely no basis in reality is lazy, ignorant and offensive in the extreme.

In fact our annual New Year’s celebration is a recap of the extraordinary humanitarian work the Church does around the world, partnering with thousands of organizations and reaching nearly 2 billion people.

Artists have a right (and maybe an obligation) to speak truth to power, to question cultural norms and push the envelope. But with that comes the responsibility to separate fact from fiction and to actually understand the subject you’re discussing from your platform.

I’m done allowing my church—my friends, my family, my community—to be the punch line, or the recipient of hate speech disguised and tossed off as “wit.”

In this case Stevens is exhibiting what might be the most insidious form of bigotry: the idea that you “know all about something” because you heard or read or saw in passing someone else’s biased viewpoint or agenda and are willing to forward that misinformation as fact, as something that “everybody knows.” It’s discriminatory and destructive.

I can guarantee you that Stevens has never been to one of my church’s annual celebrations. If he had he would have been moved and uplifted by the thousands of volunteers all over the world who selflessly give their time to those in need, whether it’s drug education and rehabilitation, human rights conferences and marches, or helping children and adults all over the world learn to read and comprehend for the first time.

I’m done allowing my church—my friends, my family, my community—to be the punch line, or the recipient of hate speech disguised and tossed off as “wit.”

People of faith and goodwill should support one another, not mindlessly tear each other down for the sake of sounding “sophisticated.” Stevens has the right to his viewpoints and opinions, the same as anyone else. But there’s no room for such a thoughtless, reckless, and entirely wrong statement in civil discourse. I encourage him to explore what our church is actually about for himself and not listen to rumors or slander driven by bigotry.

It’s something Stevens claims to stand against. I’d like to see him do it on behalf of all of us. 

Wil Seabrook
Musician, writer, business owner, human rights advocate, aspiring Renaissance Man.