A mainstream country artist is stirring controversy with a radio single and music video that imagines what it would be like to spend time social drinking with the Son of God.
Thomas Rhett, son of singer-songwriter Rhett Atkins and a newcomer to the country music scene, says that he penned the song “Beer With Jesus” three years ago to put into words what he would ask Jesus if he were able to sit down at a bar with Him.
“If I could have a beer with Jesus, Heaven knows I’d sip it nice and slow,” the song begins. “I’d try to pick a place that ain’t too crowded, or gladly go wherever He wants to go. You can bet I’d order up a couple tall ones; tell the waitress put ‘em on my tab.”
“I’d be sure to let him do the talkin’, careful when I got the chance to ask. How’d you turn the other cheek to save a sorry soul like me?” the song continues. “I’d tell everyone, but no one would believe it, if I could have a beer with Jesus.”
Rhett, who grew up Valdosta, Georgia and now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, says that he was brought up in the church, but that his beliefs about the subject of alcohol have changed over time.
“I grew up Church of Christ,” he told Taste of Country. “You’re taught that beer is wrong and alcohol is wrong.”
“When I got to college, some of my beliefs kind of changed, and that’s just a song that I personally believe that’s how Jesus would have been if he were here,” Rhett explained. “That song means so much to me and to my family.”
Rhett, 22, said that he has had some of his deepest conversations with friends while drinking alcohol.
“Those moments stick out in my mind because those were some of the best conversations I had with my buddies … just getting below the surface and talking about deeper life stuff and things that matter,” he states.
“Beer with Jesus,” co-written by Rhett, Lance Miller and Rick Huckaby, was crafted to outline what the songwriters believe most listeners would want to ask the Lord, according to Rhett.
“[W]e tried to make very broad questions about what we would ask Jesus and what we thought the general population would ask Jesus if they had 20 minutes just to sit down and talk to Him,” he outlined.
Questions in the song include “Is Heaven really just beyond the stars?” “What’s on the other side?” and “Are Mom and Daddy alright?”
“He can probably only stay for just a couple rounds, but I hope and pray He’s stayin’ till we shut the whole place down,” Rhett sings.
Reactions to the song, which is now playing on country stations nationwide, and is also featured in a music video on CMT, have been mixed.
“Every time I play that song live, a lot of people will cry,” Rhett told GAC-TV. “I’ve had a preacher come up to me saying, ‘Man, I would love to get you up to Wisconsin and sing that song at our church service.’”
“A woman called into a radio station in Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago and voiced that her son had just been killed in a car accident,” he continued. “And she came to my show in Pennsylvania and told me that her son’s five best friends were at the funeral, and they played my song ‘Beer with Jesus’ and they all got baptized because of the song and what it did to them.”
However, Julia Conner with country radio station US105 admits that not everyone is thrilled about the song.
“Of course there is controversy,” she states. “[S]ome folks don’t feel Jesus would be drinking beer, and we ought not sing about it.”
Some listeners across the country agree.
“Why not just have some water with Jesus? This is a prime example of how far down the toilet country music has gotten,” writes commenter Marshall Chandler. “If you want to sing about Jesus, do it. … Just don’t mix the two!”
The song currently sits at #21 on the country music charts.
Photo: Valory Music Group