Religious groups put their faith in U2

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FROM WIRE REPORTS Christopher Quinn, Cox Newspapers

ATLANTA - American religion has adopted the rock band U2. Its lyrics can be heard coming from pulpits. Its music ringing out in sanctuaries. Its videos show up in Sunday school classes.

Rabbi Steve Lebow of Kol Emeth in Marietta, Ga., said: "I taught a class on rock 'n' roll and spirituality. When you do a search of which band has the most biblical allusions and spiritual themes, U2 comes up as No. 1."

Jake Hill started teaching a class at Atlanta's Saint James United Methodist Church in September called the Theology of U2. It attracts about 15 people on Wednesday nights.

"Most of their songs have a message of unity, we are all in this together to make this work," Hill said.

He was inspired to teach the class after one of Saint James's pastors showed him We Get to Carry Each Other: the Gospel According to U2 (Westminster John Knox Press, $16.95). He has long known about the band's spiritual leanings, looked for references to faith in its music, and the book helped pull that together, he said.

Greg Garrett, the author, teaches English at Baylor University and writing at an Episcopal seminary. He was writing for a music magazine and interviewed the band in their early years.

Garrett says he left his faith behind for many years, but was always a U2 fan. A person can listen to their music and its messages without caring about the spiritual context from which it came, he said by phone.

"You can say, 'They are a perfectly good rock band and work for peace and justice, and I can get on board with that, but don't talk to me about Christianity,' " he said. "But to leave those things out is to ignore where their passion for peace and justice come from."

It is well-known that members Bono, The Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. were part of a conservative, charismatic Christian youth group as teenagers in Ireland.

Garrett said they split from the youth group and left behind organized religion but not spirituality or faith.

Christopher Quinn,

Cox Newspapers

Plan your life

U2 performs at 7 p.m. Monday at Cowboys Stadium, 925 N. Collins St., Arlington. $30-$250. Ticketmaster.

© 2009, The Dallas Morning News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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