While Switchfoot’s Fading West documentary showed that just about anything can happen on the road, the band’s latest tour has shown a darker side of that unpredictability.
On Monday, March 10, the band’s visit to Baton Rouge, Louisiana saw a group of religious protesters from Consuming Fire Fellowship standing outside the Varsity Theatre with large signs and megaphones.
Led by Chris LePelley, the protesters loudly shouted, “There won’t be Switchfoot [music] in hell, just Switchfoot fans,” accusing the band of furthering satan’s agenda by combining the things of the world with the things of God — namely, mixing rock and roll music with Christian lyrics.
From the band’s site, Jeanna wrote, “This has been an interesting tour so far, though unfortunately it’s been colored by the appearances of several protestors at a couple of different shows. In cases like this, it can be easy to get angry and let emotions take over – and of course, [lead singer Jon Foreman] has been encouraging a different response.”
The night of the show, Foreman tweeted, “So stoked the protesters are here again— treat em with love and respect y’all! Love is the only response. #LoveAloneIsWorthTheFight.”
He owned up to those words, offering the protesters bottled water, thanking them for being there, and even telling them, “I love you.” Despite having protesters yelling in his face and flatly stating, “We stand against you,” Foreman stayed calm and continued to try to hand out the bottled water.
Before the show was over in Baton Rouge, Foreman said the following to his audience:
“They [the protesters] are going to be there when everyone leaves tonight. So here’s the deal. Music for me has always centered around what we have in common… I can find beauty in that. The one card I’d like to see on the table tonight as far as what we play exiting here, I want to play the card of love. I don’t care what they say, what they get in your face about, just give them a hug, give them a cup of coffee, see what you can find in common, you know? There’s gotta be something deeper than that that bonds us on this planet. We could just start another war about our disagreements, but that’s not what we’re here for.”
A video LePelley posted on YouTube documenting the incident ends with LePelley singing his “favorite Christian song”—a lyrically altered version of Israel Houghton’s “Friend of God,” singing, “I am afraid of God… He makes me scared.”