Michael Sweet has once again claimed that STRYPER was never a "Christian" band despite the fact that the lyrics in a number of STRYPER songs explicitly point to Christ. During an appearance on the latest episode of the "Talk Is Jericho" podcast hosted by FOZZY frontman and wrestling superstar Chris Jericho, he explained (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I recently, in the past few yeas, said quite a few times, and it's really caused a stir, that we're not a Christian band. And people say, 'What?' But we're Christians in a rock band. And there's a difference.
"I look at PETRA as a Christian band, I look at SWEET COMFORT, I look at REZ BAND as Christian bands, 'cause they were Christians in a rock band," the STRYPER frontman continued. "And they were brought up in the church, for the most part. We weren't brought up in the church; we were brought up on the streets of L.A. playing Gazzarri's, Troubadour, Whisky, and we became Christians. And we just continued doing what we always did, but with a different message.
"So we're a rock band that's comprised of Christians," Sweet added. "We're really not a Christian band. But if people wanna call us a Christian band, that's okay. But I view us as just a rock band that decided to take a different path."
Michael went on to say that STRYPER's lyrics come from the heart and are not meant to be a marketing gimmick, as is the case with some of the band's more extreme counterparts.
"With a band like SLAYER — not just SLAYER but a number of other black metal bands… What's interesting is STRYPER, we read the Bible, we pray, we go to church, we believe in what the Bible says," Michael said. "So by doing so, so to speak, we practice what we preach. We're not perfect — in any sense of the word, we're not perfect — but we really do our best to represent Christ, represent God and all that God stands for. But it's funny when you hear about SLAYER, and you think Satanic band, pentagram, evil, and then Tom [Araya, SLAYER frontman] is going to church every Sunday with his kids. Which is great. But my point is it's a polar opposite of what they represent themselves as. STRYPER, on the other hand, you get what you get. We are what we are on stage and off stage. It's not like we're going to the satanic church after we get off stage."
Even though STRYPER's third album, 1986's "To Hell With The Devil", made Sweet and his bandmates the first contemporary Christian act to score a platinum album, the group has often felt unwelcome in Christian circles, with some members of the church feeling that Christianity and heavy metal are incompatible.
In a 2018 interview with the Detroit Free Press, Michael said that STRYPER was never fully embraced by the heavy metal and hard rock communities, largely because of the band's Christian lyrics.
"We've never been accepted by either side," he said. "The secular side, the mainstream, they've never accepted us to this day. We're probably that band that everyone's going to go to whenever there's a time to mock. We'll be the band used for that in most cases. Now on the Christian side, we've never really had the full support of the Christian side because we don't fit into their little club. We're not wearing suits and ties and going to every church and preaching."
Formed 39 years ago, STRYPER's name comes from Isaiah 53:5, which states: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
STRYPER's albums include "To Hell With The Devil", "Second Coming", "No More Hell To Pay", "Fallen", "God Damn Evil" and the band's latest effort, "Even The Devil Believes".