On the first night of Passion 2017 and the 20th annual gathering of the event, which usually hosts around 50,000 young evangelicals in Atlanta each year, the unthinkable happened for most attendees-- a real live superstar took the stage to help Crowder lead worship. That superstar was Carrie Underwood.
Underwood showed up unannounced and wasn't even introduced as she took the stage with Crowder to sing his, "Lift Your Head Weary Sinner." She closed out the night by singing her No. 1 hit (on Country and Christian charts) "Something In The Water."
For many young believers, Passion is a pilgrimage they make each January. The goal of the conference (or movement) is "to live in such a way that their journey on earth counts for what is most important in the end. For us at Passion, that's the fame of the One who rescues and restores, and the privilege we have to amplify His name in everything we do."
Underwood, along with her husband, NHL player MIke Fisher, has never been shy about her faith, but rarely makes grand statements about anything could seem divisive in any way. Her appearance during Passion was about as grand of a statement as she could make.
Because it is 2017 and no one is allowed to just live their life, Underwood has, of course, come under fire for her appearance.
Wesley Wildmon, director of outreach of American Family Association, has penned an open letter to Louie Giglio (founder of Passion) condemning him for letting a superstar proclaim the name of Jesus to a bunch of millennials. (I'm paraphrasing here).
Wildmon was "frustrated" and saddened by Giglio's decision to let Underwood lead worship because the church she attends in Nashville supports LGBT people as full church participants.
Wildmon references a 2012 interview in which Underwood said, "As a married person myself, I don't know what it's like to be told I can't marry somebody I love, and want to marry. I can't imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love."
From this interview, Wildmon claims that "Carrie Underwood encourages and supports homosexual marriage" and "The Word of God is not a preference, but principles God has spoken. God is right about marriage and Carrie Underwood is wrong."
I whole-heartedly agree with Wildmon about the Word of God, but cannot figure out why this is the fight he wants to pick.
I cannot find any statements from Underwood that claim she is full-fledged in support of gay marriage. In the 2012 interview she did say, "Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or [saying] 'everyone has to be like me'. No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody."
She also said, "our church is gay friendly."
The thing about churches is this-- they are made up of imperfect people. Therefore, there are no perfect churches. And going to a church doesn't mean you align perfectly with its beliefs. It means you probably, mostly align with its beliefs.
On top of this, I cannot imagine that each and every artist who performed during Passion aligns fully with Wildmon's own personal beliefs. I'm very familiar with most of the artists and speakers who were there and I'm not totally on board with everything they've ever said, but they aren't wrong.
All in all, if Underwood wants to volunteer her time and show up in front of 50,000 people to proclaim her faith in God, how can you knock her for that? Why is this the battle? How many other A-list celebrities were willing to do what she did?
At the end of the day, you have to admire so many people coming together in support of something bigger than themselves. The world needs more people willing to stand up for what they believe in-- and even sing about it-- if they want.