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Fundamentalists Protest ‘Evil’ Of Rock Music by Destroying Records

March 22, 1987

LINWOOD, N.J. (AP) _ About 150 people sang and chanted praises to Jesus on Saturday night while shattering rock ‘n’ roll records and burning their jackets in the fireplace of a fundamentalist church.

During a pre-burn prayer, a 16-year-old boy who was heckling the pastor was taken away by a plainclothes police officer. Township police Sgt. Michael D’Amato said the boy would be charged with juvenile delinquency and released into his parents’ custody.

Otherwise, the event designed to lure teen-agers away from what Mainland Assembly of God Church pastor the Rev. Jerry Sturgeon called the evils of rock music went off peaceably.

The mostly young adult participants broke records and ripped cassette tapes into a large plastic garbage barrel while singing religious songs, then tossed into the fire the empty album covers by Elvis Presley, Pat Benatar, Kiss and other artists.

Parents looking on cheered.

″I want to burn it. For me to serve Jesus, it’s impossible to listen to rock and to worship him. Rock makes me feel lustful,″ said Sturgeon’s 15- year-old daughter, Kristi.

Sturgeon had distributed 300 tickets for the burning at a preview lecture in this affluent suburb Friday night, fearing a mob scene at the fundamentalist Christian church just a few miles from the glitzy casinos of Atlantic City.

A similar burning scheduled for Feb. 27 was postponed after church officials said they feared protests by area rock fans and high school students would turn into riots.

About 100 rock-loving teen-agers came to the church parking lot that night anyway, blasting music from large radios and holding impromptu debates about their constitutional rights.

Before Saturday’s ceremony, Sturgeon said the burning would be a symbolic protest of rock music’s lack of morals. Rock music lyrics often encourage teen-age suicides as well as lead youths to drugs, alcohol and sex, he said.

Looking on Saturday night was Steve Reeds, 17, of Smithville, a self- described punk rock fan with a shaved head who was wearing a spike-studded black leather jacket.

He said he felt younger children should be shielded from the offensive lyrics of some musicians, ″but that should be up to the parent, not this kind of stuff,″ he said. ″Burning records is not going to prove anything and it’s not going to prevent anything.″

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