At the indoor auto store in Nashville, several cars scream for attention, my eyes are drawn to the sleek charcoal BMW being prepped for resale, across the way appears to be a vintage Corvette (obviously I’m not a connoisseur of cars, or there would be a vast description). Petra’s frontman for 20 years John Schlitt points to the framework of his son’s garage.
Schlitt’s pretty proud. The 63-year-old towering Christian rocker has a civil engineering degree from the University of Illinois and designed the building--this includes structuring the ceiling beams of one office and creating the black armoire that’s been repainted several times over the years. Currently he’s remodeling his home in Franklin.
There’s something else churning besides blueprints and the brisk winds of an overcast day. The solo artist is troubled. He’s frustrated because America’s heart and faith in God has waned.
“There are so many things on my heart. One is the political ridiculousness of phasing God out the country. The founding fathers of this country gave us the constitution with the understanding that it will only work with the choices guided by God. And now we are trying to phase God out, so of course the constitution is not working.”
“The Greater Cause” album, released in 2012, was created to bring hope to a nation out of touch with God. Fans agreed and the fourth solo album, funded on Kickstarter, collected over $10,000. “Faith and Freedom’s” single struck a chord and the American Center for Law and Justice produced the video that was featured on the “One Nation Under God” DVD sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The single was inspired by the political and moral turmoil of the country says Schlitt.
“I’m putting my mouth were my heart is. I want to rock boats and we need to rock boats. We are way to quiet. Those who believe the opposite are so loud and commanding…The world is questioning [us] because we are so stinking quiet. I mean this was a Christian country, so I thought, until our President told us it wasn’t. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with him. The only way I have is in my music and being in front of people. Wimpy Christianity is fine is certain spots, but when it comes to something like this, we need to be bold.”
“Faith and Freedom” the single struck a chord and the American Center for Law and Justice produced the video that was featured on the “One Nation Under God” DVD sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The single was inspired by the political and moral turmoil of the country says Schlitt.
Chorus from "Faith and Freedom":
“I believe in faith and freedom
God and country too
I believe with faith and freedom
We're gonna make it through.”
Another song off the album “Hope that Saves the World” was listed in the Top 30 on the Billboard and Christian Music charts. Despite the recognition on the charts, the music industry desires youth, not an aging star, Schlitt schooled.
Look at groups like Aerosmith, they are still relevant after decades. But the Christian industry is a small percent of the market, compared to mainstream music.
“Secular is an ocean and Christian music is a pond. More like a puddle.” Schlitt says who hopes to jam with former Governor Mike Huckabee on his Fox television show.
“I understand that the young need to get in there and kick the old out because there is hardly any room. And there are so many artist and so few stations. I would love to venture into the secular, but without compromise.”
Regardless, Schlitt is focused on the bigger picture of the country's moral climate.
“We are making choices on greed and stupidity. The truth is that our country will only last through faith and freedom.”
Could a political career be in the future?
No, Schlitts laughed. He’ll stick to using music as a platform.