'I think they really do worship the devil': Texas pastor leads community in prayer ahead of heavy metal concert

Not everyone in Midland, Texas, welcomed Swedish heavy metal rockers Ghost to town with open arms.

Local pastor Larry Long of Fellowship Community Church spent days ahead of Monday’s show trying to pray the Satan away, as he believes the city needs protection from the devil-worshiping band.

“We’re not here to protest. We’re just simply here to pray, to pray His protection, to plead the blood of Christ over our community,” he told a local CBS affiliate. “This kind of band will bring spiritual influences into this area. We’re concerned about it, because we believe the devil is real, just as we believe God is real. … The fact that they describe themselves as a worship band for Satan is, I think, quite shocking. And I think most of our community would be surprised to learn that.”

Photo: Loma Vista Recording
Photo: Loma Vista Recording

Long made the interview rounds for his non-protest, expressing concern during a radio interview.

“There’s a song about… What’s it called? ‘Satan’s Hammer’? Something about a hammer. And it talks about the fact that the person singing the song is seeking a relationship with the devil,” he said. Long is probably referring to the band’s track “Square Hammer,” although the lyrics in that one are somewhat tame.

“And if young people go to a concert like this and they think it’s all just good fun — kind of like Halloween, so to speak — and so, ‘This is all just good fun,’ and ‘Don’t make such a big deal out of it,’ I think if they’re singing along to those lyrics, who knows what in the world they’re opening their hearts and lives up to?” Long stated. “The main band leader goes by the name of Tobias; whether or not that’s his real name, who knows? And then the rest of ’em go by ‘ghoulish horde’ or something like that.”

The band’s members remained anonymous for years, but Tobias Forge outed himself in 2017.

“Of course, you see this kind of stuff and you say, ‘Well, how much of this…? Do they understand?’ I think that they understand all of it,” Long continued. “I think that they are doing this intentionally, and I think they really do worship the devil, because I believe … as a Christian, as a biblical Christian, I believe the devil’s real. So I imagine maybe some people listening right now would say, ‘Oh, you guys are getting overblown with this,’ and those kinds of things. Well, you would only think that if you didn’t think the devil was real.”

The venue, Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center, defended its decision to book Ghost: “Shock rock has been a part of the heavy metal landscape from the early days of Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. Each performer bringing to the stage their own version of a cruel world. Ghost, with their album’s No. 3 spot on the Billboard charts, is continuing in those metal bands’ footsteps.”

In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, one member, called Nameless Ghoul, explained that they wanted their shows to feel like “a mass.”

“It’s this idea of religion, where people meet in a room or a building or a place that we have agreed upon as being solemn, and we then conduct predetermined rituals — rituals being the songs, or movements, things like that — in order for us to reach a sense of divine presence,” Nameless Ghoul said. “And a lot of the sensations that we are evoking at our shows are very close to the sort of warm religious feelings you would get from an actual church mass. We’re using the same sort of symbolism as the church, in a way, but with the idea of achieving bliss. Joyful bliss.”

The show went on as planned — perhaps with a few more seats filled, given Long’s inadvertent promotion of the concert.

There have been no Satan sightings in Midland … yet.

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