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Tuesday 6th March 2007

Welsh newspaper shine spotlight on Martyn Joseph's controversial Pat Robertson song

WELSH NEWSPAPER The Western Mail has reactivated a controversy which first surfaced when Cross Rhythms reviewed the performance of singer/songwriter Martyn Joseph at Christian arts festival Greenbelt last August and critiqued Joseph's amended lyrics in his song "Liberal Backslider" where he made derogatory comments about TV evangelist Dr Pat Robertson.

The news story in The Western Mail's 5th March edition read, "A Welsh folk rock singer has refused to back down in his unlikely transatlantic row with a top American TV evangelist. In one corner is Penarth-born musician Martyn Joseph, who uses his work to highlight causes such as aiding Brazilian landless workers and children made homeless by war. In the other is American former faith healer Dr Pat Robertson, known for insulting Islam as a religion, suggesting Venezuelan President Hugo Charvez should be assassinated and opposing gay rights. Joseph, Best Male Artist at the 2004 BBC Welsh Music Awards, is including a live recording of a song which lambastes Dr Robertson on his new album. The song, delivered at the Christian Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham last year, has been criticised by Dr Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. The 'offending' track, entitled 'Mr Robertson', left the 6,000-strong audience in no doubt about Joseph's feelings for controversial US televangelist, a former faith healer who markets 'age-defying pancakes' on his website. Joseph, regarded by critics as one of the UK's finest singer songwriters, took an unusual approach for a committed Christian when he unexpectedly threw in the F-word during the song and encouraged the audience to sing a chorus effectively telling Robertson to 'go elsewhere'. The song contained the line, 'I'm gonna find me a TV evangelist and punch him in the face.'

"Martyn Joseph told the Western Mail, 'The majority of the audience at Cheltenham were happy to sing along.' Speaking of the criticism he has since received, the singer added, 'I don't know why it is that some within the Christian realm are unable to handle or recognise irony, even if it seems a bit harsh. I wasn't putting the words of the chorus in God's mouth or anything.' He says he was surprised by the reaction of some after the Greenbelt festival, including one who called him 'a misguided protest singer whipping up anti right-wing prejudice.' He said, 'I had a press review and a few letters about my language. As long as they also wrote to Pat Robertson to complain about him asking for certain leaders to be 'taken out' - which was my point - then that's fair enough.'"

The interview continued, "'I don't see anything wrong with voicing my opinion, through song, on those in positions of political power who claim to act for God. I'm not personally interested in building bridges to Pat Robertson - I wish him no ill but he needs to sort himself out. In the end that's all my daft little chorus was about.' The Western Mail contacted Dr Robertson at the Christian Broadcasting Network but he has not issued a reply."

The "Liberal Backslider"/"Mr Robertson" song will appear unedited on Joseph's new album 'MJGB06', to be released by Pipe Records on 13th March to coincide with Martyn's new tour which opens in Southampton. ICC Records distribute the Pipe label to UK Christian retail.  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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