Okay, Hozier. I’ll Take You to Church

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“Take Me to Church” is the song by Hozier that debuted in September 2013 but is getting attention now, notably at the Grammys, where he sang it with Annie Lennox.

The problem is Hozier — Andrew Hozier-Byrne is his name in his small Irish town’s phonebook — sings a song that would have labeled him as a detestable bigot if he was singing about anything but the Catholic Church.

He sings:

“Take me to church / I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies / I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife.”

But of course he would never sing:

“Make me a Jew / I’ll worship like a dog at your temple of lies.”

Because people who hate Jews say exactly that kind of thing and civilized people have learned that these are evil things to say.

And Hozier definitely would never sing this:

“Take me to church for a gay wedding / I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies.”

Because, you see, he knows it is wrong to hate gay people. He is very passionate about that.

“There’s no excuse for ignorance,” he told the Irish Times. “You have to recognize in yourself, and challenge yourself, that if you see racism or homophobia or misogyny in a secular society, as a member of that society, you should challenge it. You owe it to the betterment of society.”

Well said, Mr. Hozier. You have convinced me that I owe it to the betterment of society to challenge you, because I see offensive hatred in your song. Yes, [update]I know it is a song about a love relationship; but as you have made it clear, it is also a song about the Church.

We who kneel in Church are compared to dogs in your song, which the whole world is listening to. You suggest the Church is  “sharpening our knives,” making us wicked attackers, as well.

From your privileged Irish life, you may think that characterizing Christians as wicked dogs is harmless, but do you know what is happening to many of my Christian sisters and brothers worldwide?

Christian children are being crucified and buried alive by people who compare us to dogs, like you do. You say “Take Me to Church” but I wouldn’t want you to take you to their churches, because people really are sharpening their knives there, with my people as their targets.

You make church sound like a terrible, awful place. In China, the government’s leaders agree with you, wholeheartedly. But I wouldn’t take you to church there, either, because we could both get arrested.

I wouldn’t want to take you to church in India, either. A wave of persecution is attacking Catholics there, too, including children.

I know, why don’t I take you to my church? There you can see what really happens in churches. We dog-like Catholics that you despise are praying for the hurt, the broken, the damaged. Then we are doing all we can to serve them.

That’s what Catholics do. Even critics have to admit we provide a huge percentage of the social services in America.

On the one hand, we Catholics are used to being the last acceptable prejudice. You can say things about us without consequence that, if you said about anyone else, would make you look like a despicable, bigoted person.

On the other, why would you?

Mr. Hozier, it’s good that you do not want to criticize gay people. That makes you a good Catholic, as far as that goes. But now you need to stop dehumanizing me. Stop comparing a class of people to animals. Have some compassion for our men, women and children who are being slaughtered. Even if you make a lot of money by doing it.

Because, I hate to be the one to break it to you, the words that are making you rich make you sound like an insensitive, despicable bigot.

I wouldn’t feel right about that, if it were me. Do you?

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

Tom Hoopes, author of What Pope Francis Really Said, is writer in residence at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department and edits The Gregorian, a Catholic identity speech digest. He was previously editor of the National Catholic Register for 10 years and with his wife, April, of Faith & Family magazine for five. A frequent contributor to Catholic publications, he began his career as a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area and as press secretary for U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer. He lives in Atchison with his wife and those of his nine children still at home. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

7 Comments

  1. The damage being done to catholics doesn’t hold a candle to the damage done by catholics throughout history. And still today. Most organized religions, but mainly catholicism, are the cancer of the human race. Reading religious responses to this fantastic song is my favorite thing to do now, your feeble minds are unable to grasp anything he says.

  2. “Take me to church / I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies / I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife.”

    But of course he would never sing:

    “Make me a Jew / I’ll worship like a dog at your temple of lies.”

    Because people who hate Jews say exactly that kind of thing and civilized people have learned that these are evil things to say.”

    Excuse me, sir. But if you recall (you know, since you’re such a faithful Catholic) the Catholic church denied the Holocaust happened. so shut your hypocritical mouth.
    – a transgender woman.

    • You should always back up your rants with facts. Where has the Church ever denied the Holocaust? Do you not know that The church hid and protected more Jews from the Nazis that an person or group during the war. The local rabbi in Rome converted to Catholicism and even changed his name to that of the pope’s birth name. Do you not know the praise heaped on the pope and the Church by the Jews for everything the Church did to help and support them during the Holocaust? You really should check your facts before you rant of things you do not know.

  3. He isn’t saying that followers of the Catholic Church are dogs.
    He’s referring to the way a dog worships his owner-The centre of the dogs world, everything within the song is metaphors. He’s not saying that the worshippers actually sharpen their knives- it’s talking about people who hide behind religion and twist it to shame Homosexuality ( or any sexuality for that matter) using their words and actions to discriminate against the sexuality and the act of sex.
    You should have done deeper research into the meaning of the song, and at least attempt to understand his point of perspective.
    The way of the difference of the lyrics and video are intended to portray different sides and extremes of the hatred towards Homosexuality and and practice of sex, he also does this with the song Cherry Wine.
    I have personally seen followers of the catholic religion shame publicly people who identify as homosexual, I’ve seen acts of physical violence against those who identify with the sexual orientation.
    You are an insensitive, despicable bigot.
    You are a bigot too sir.

  4. I’m pretty sure he sang about The Church because he from a predominantly Catholic country and had deal with issues pertaining to The Church throughout his life. In interviews he talks about how he didn’t write this song to attack faith, but an institutionalized/organization rather than a community. Don’t get me wrong, he talks about disagreeing with the mere concept of sin, but the idea that his issue with the Catholic faith is something he has stated is untrue.

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