Dug Pinnick: There is No Room Inside a Box

Interview by Steve Ruff

Where do you stand in your beliefs toward Christianity, Jesus, etc.

I would say that I’m either agnostic or atheist… Agnostic means you’re just not sure, but I border atheism. I don’t really believe in anything that has sat down and talked to anybody, put it that way.

Did you come to that because of the way you were treated in regards to your coming out?

No, no I didn’t, it was a natural progression. I’ve read in articles and heard through the grapevine that people have said I walked away from God because I wasn’t successful or because I was gay, but to me that’s sort of insulting because why would I walk away from God no matter what? Ya know, where are you gonna go if you believe in God? If you believe in the Christian God you can’t get away from him and you’re gonna go to hell if you don’t follow Jesus and do the right thing, so ya know, where am I gonna go? I would be a big idiot to just give up and die and go to hell. I think it’s pretty ridiculous to think that, and I’m not saying you think that but there are people who seem to find joy in bringing that subject up and I always think, “Wow”, but I’m just really not that shallow.

Someone asked me a real long, long time ago, “Did you leave God because you weren’t successful?” The bottom line is they must not understand the depth of their faith, or the depth of my faith and what I believe. I believe 100% whole-heartedly, I’ve got all kinds of different paranormal experiences and God encounters if you want to call them that. As I grew and started looking at what was going on, and as I started studying religions and paranormal activity and just ancient religions and on down the line, I just realized it’s all in your mind and it’s all subject to argument and it’s all subject to being not true. I just got to a point that took me at least about 15 years, where I just don’t believe in it, but it wasn’t something that I just got up one day and said, “I’m done, I’m walking away, bye God.” It was the more that I learned, Christianity just didn’t make sense, and it got the point where the reasonable doubt outweighed anything that had any substance to it, and to the point that the reasonable doubt outweighed everything. Finally I just thought, “I can’t do this, I can’t believe something that‘s not real to me.” People think I walked away and just said, “Oh God, I don’t want you”, it ain’t that, I just don’t believe, it’s just not there.

The thing about Christians and being gay and stuff, I mean the Bible says that it’s a sin. That is in the Old Testament and especially in the New Testament. They don’t talk about it but like three times in the whole Bible, ya know, they talk about murder, they talk about adultery, they talk about all kinds of stuff over and over in the bible, and they very seldom talk about homosexuality or make a big deal about it. The thing is, if it’s wrong in the Bible, it’s a sin, and the Bible says it’s an abomination, one of the things God hates the most, in fact almost THE most. An abomination is what God completely hates and cannot forgive you for, and then they throw that on gay people. What are people going to do with that? Basically they either kill themselves or live a miserable life or they do things they don’t want to do like get married and act straight. Then later on they leave their wives for someone else and ruin their kid’s lives.

I think the church ruins gay people’s lives because they just won’t let them be who they are, and they don’t understand who they are either. They put us in the category of child molesters and murderers, and that’s bullsh*t. You know most child molesters are straight, and murderers, what do you do with that? They kill people ya know? I mean, I’m gay, so you say I’m just like a person who kills somebody? The other thing is the church believes it’s a choice, like “Oh, I choose to do this vile terrible thing”, and I’m going “It ain’t no choice at all”. If I had the choice I don’t think anybody gay… you could ask anybody who’s gay, and I could be wrong, but you ask any gay person if they had a choice to be straight or gay would they choose to be gay, and they would all say no. Why would you choose to be hated by the world, be the scourge of the world, be hated by God, be dammed in the church, be ostracized by your family and your parents? To be subjected to being killed, murdered, beat up and be a victim of hate crimes, I could keep on going down the line ya know. I mean movie stars lose their careers and rock stars lose their status over being gay, so I mean the bottom line is, why would somebody choose that? I don’t think anybody would.

Then these people say that it’s just a mental thing. It’s just like being left handed or right handed, you have blue eyes or green eyes, it’s like feeling you’re a woman in a man’s body or vice versa. They think it’s a mental thing or it just might be a mental disorder. Ya know, for all we know it could be like autism or something, I don’t know. Then somebody says, “Well just because it’s a mental thing still doesn’t mean its right.” I mean, how do you deal with that? If you’re a paraplegic does that mean you’re gonna hate yourself or that the church is gonna kick you out because your not fit for God? That is what they did in the old days, ya know? We know that, that’s why Jesus tried to help the poor so much, because those people couldn’t go into the temple, they were not deemed good enough to go into the temple in the presence of God just to be saved and to be healed and accepted. As far as I’m concerned, in my life, religion is just complete 100% bullsh*t and I don’t want no part of it.

I hear where you’re coming from… that was a heavy load there, but I’m glad you cleared up the speculation about why you left the faith and…

And you know what else pisses me off more than anything? When a Christian wants to talk to me about what I believe or what I’ve been through, and I never condemn them, I never say they’re wrong or whatever… but, if you’re a Christian and you live your life the best you can and you are at peace with yourself, I’ve got no problems with you. When they turn around and say, “well you’re still gonna have to stand before God, you still will have to do that” and I’m saying “I don’t believe in God” and they say, “you’re still gonna have to believe.” That’s when I just get angry and I say “okay, you win, I lose if that’s what you want.”

I was watching an atheist one time on TV, he’s the guy that has that show Inside the Actors Studio (James Lipton) where he interviews movie stars. He’s an atheist I guess, and this one time somebody sat down and interviewed him. The last question they asked was “Since you’re an atheist, when you die and have to stand before God what do you think he’ll say to you?” He looked up without blinking his eye and he said, “This is what God will say, “I was right, you were wrong, now come on in.” You know? Isn’t that God? Listen Steve, I figure it this way… if the Christian God is real, which I don’t believe, but if He is real then He understands why I feel the way I do, why I am who I am and why I have come to this conclusion and I don’t believe He could find fault in it because it’s what He would have wanted.

I’m glad we cleared that up because I was under the same impression. I thought you had come out of the closet and because of the way you had been treated you walked away from the faith.

No, but I knew exactly what people would say. I was a Christian once, I know exactly what they do. When I came out I knew what they were going to do, they even banned our records in Christian bookstores. On Ear Candy I sang a song called “Looking for Love” which has the line “I guess I lost my faith” and I was singing songs about not believing anymore blah, blah, blah and they never said a word, but as soon as I came out our records were banned, isn’t that something?

It’s a cutthroat industry dUg, it doesn’t really appear to be any different then anything else…

That’s why I didn’t want to be a Christian band. You see when I played with Phil Keaggy back in the day, Jerry and I both did, we went to a big festival where these big selling Christian acts played like The Imperials and Andre Crouch, big selling bands back then and Phil Keaggy was really huge at the time too. So we did this festival and I remember going backstage really excited about meeting my hero’s and these great Christian people who were playing this great Christian music and I really wanted to fellowship with them ya know, I was under the impression that all Christians were good. I got backstage and all of a sudden I saw egos, I saw attitudes and I saw a**holes. At that point I realized that this was no different than anything else, and if this was the way it was going to be then I would rather just be in a regular band, go out there and play for regular people and if they turn against me that’s okay because that’s expected.

I just hadn’t believed that these Christians would really be this way… I was very disillusioned and that was the day I decided that I was not going to do anything in the Christian realm. That’s why we didn’t do Cornerstone even though they kept asking us. I would have loved to play it but I knew as soon as we played it we would have been branded. We would have been branded AND we would have been questioned, and back then I was still in my closet too and I felt like a big phony. If I’m gonna talk about truth, sing about truth and about people being honest and accepting each other, well I better step up to the plate too and not be a hypocrite like the rest of them.

Was it CCM Magazine or HM Magazine where you did the coming out story and was there an immediate backlash?

Ummmmm, it was CCM and the only backlash we got was that I had heard our records were taken out of Christian bookstores. Other than that I never heard another word. I remember the record company saying, “dUg, next time you decide to do something like this please let us know.” (laughter)

Another question I had was – Is there a way to separate Christ from “the Church” in matters like this, but I guess that would fall under the category of if you don’t believe in Christ then…

Well you can separate Christ from “the Church” because I’ve got a Bible that’s in Aramaic, it’s translated from what Jesus said in the Aramaic and they break it down in the English. Basically it doesn’t have anything to do with the way that Christians believe, it just really doesn’t. Jesus was more like the attitude of being one with God, being one with the earth, one with yourself, ya know just being at peace and loving each other, understanding each other and caring for one another. That was his biggest thrust and they turned him into this person that forgives sins and you have to accept Him in order to get to Heaven. That’s just totally unrealistic to me. Besides, the whole dying for your sins thing… you know in the Old Testament, what did they do, they sacrificed lambs and the blood of an animal was supposed to atone for your sins? That’s so barbaric. Then they changed it and switched it over to Jesus and that He died for our sins and His blood covers us now, and it’s still so barbaric. I cannot believe in a God that would kill something for you and its blood forgives you for your sins, it’s just crazy. Even the Muslims say that Christians drink blood which is bullsh*t you know?

I just think, wow, this crazy, crazy religion that we have grown up with for so many centuries and we just can’t see it. When I got out of it, got away from it and looked back at it, I thought “Oh my God, what a crazy f*cked up religion that is, it’s just as crazy as the Muslims, if not crazier. The only difference is that Christians don’t do jihad, they don’t kill you, but they did in the past. They went into countries and killed people if they didn’t believe in God. That’s our religion, and the Catholic Church started the whole thing and its complete bullsh*t. Look at the Pope, he’s the infallible word of God? Gimmee a break! The Vatican has more money than any country in the world probably, and they could feed the poor but what do they do with it? They’re keeping their money and they pay for lawsuits for people who are molesting little boys. Still people go to these churches and they want to believe in them… it just baffles me when religious leaders f*ck up really bad and people just go back and follow them anyway. I wonder what is going on. It’s such a blind religion that it blows my mind and I cannot accept it. That leads me back to people asking why I left. I didn’t leave, it just didn’t make sense to me anymore because it’s not real, it’s not true in my opinion.

As far as the interview, is there anything else that you would want to add to this?

(laughter) Well I think I pretty much said a mouthful… (more laughter)

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