Paramore have never claimed to be a Christian band, but a “band with Christians in it.” That’s a reasonable distinction for rock musicians. Fairly or not, there’s a stigma attached to the former, while the latter leaves plenty of wiggle room: You may believe in God, but you won’t let it stop you from achieving success by any means necessary. As a result, proclaiming Christian faith means less every time an artist does it — as many in Nashville do.

Still, a confession of faith, however mealy-mouthed, cannot be entirely divorced from a band’s work. (See Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 for just one example of our culture’s obsession with decoding divine intent.) Which is why the circumstances surrounding Paramore’s recent fissure are so interesting. It’s the latest public eruption of the ongoing tension between Nashville’s Bible Belt underpinnings and the music industry’s Dionysian demands, with artists trying to stake out an identity in between.

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