A WELSH folk rock singer has refused to back down in his unlikely transatlantic row with a top American TV evangelist.
In one corner is Penarth-born musician Martyn Joseph, who uses his work to highlight causes such as aiding Brazilian landless workers and children made homeless by war.
In the other is American former faith healer Dr Pat Robertson, known for insulting Islam as a religion, suggesting Venezuelan President Hugo Charvez should be assassinated and opposing gay rights.
Joseph, Best Male Artist at the 2004 BBC Welsh Music Awards, is including a live recording of a song which lambasts Dr Robertson on his new album.
The song, delivered at the Christian Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham last year, has been criticised by Dr Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.
The “offending” track, entitled Mr Robertson, left the 6,000-strong audience in no doubt about Joseph’s feelings for controversial US televangelist, a former faith healer who markets “age-defying pancakes” on his website.
Joseph, regarded by critics as one of the UK’s finest singer songwriters, took an unusual approach for a committed Christian when he unexpectedly threw in the F-word during the song and encouraged the audience to sing a chorus effectively telling Robertson to “go elsewhere”.
The song contained the line, “I’m gonna find me a TV evangelist and punch him in the face”.
Martyn Joseph told the Western Mail, “The majority of the audience at Cheltenham were happy to sing along.”
Speaking of the criticism he has since received, the singer added, “I don’t know why it is that some within the Christian realm are unable to handle or recognise irony, even if it seems a bit harsh.
“I wasn’t putting the words of the chorus in God’s mouth or anything.”
Once signed to Sony and with five top 50 singles to his name, Joseph regularly tours America where he has a large following.
He says he was surprised by the reaction of some after the Greenbelt festival, including one who called him “a misguided protest singer whipping up anti right-wing prejudice”.
He said, “I had a press review and a few letters about my language. As long as they also wrote to Pat Robertson to complain about him asking for certain leaders to be ‘taken out’ – which was my point – then that’s fair enough.”
Awarded an Amnesty International accolade for his work with the Brazilian landless movement, the singer said he had no wish to offend anyone, especially his legions of fans, but felt the song should appear unedited on the album, which is simply called MJGB06.
Joseph who has shared stages with artists ranging from Art Garfunkel and Celine Dion to Jools Holland, has sung about a wide range of issues from the Bush administration to Kosovo refugees and the plight of the Welsh miners.
He once wrote a song about Welsh hero Dic Penderyn.
He said, “ I don’t see anything wrong with voicing my opinion, through song, on those in positions of political power who claim to act for God.
“I’m not personally interested in building bridges to Pat Robertson – I wish him no ill but he needs to sort himself out. In the end that’s all my daft little chorus was about.”
The Western Mail contacted Dr Robertson at the Christian Broadcasting Network but he has not issued a reply.
MJGB06 will be released on Joseph’s Pipe Records label on March 13, when his UK tour opens in Southampton.
Job: Folk/rock singer, tours extensively in the USA and Canada
Quote on his work: “Really
what I do is try and write
songs that might make a difference.”
Hobby: Playing golf – could
have turned professional
Previously fallen out with: Shirley Bassey, dropped out of a tour with the diva after just eight concerts because of “obvious artistic differences” but later wrote The Shirley Sessions (songs he had written during their short time together)
Views: Against global injustice, poverty and inequality
Published work: More than a dozen folk rock albums.
Dr Pat Robertson
Born: Lexington, Virginia
Job: TV evangelist, host of The 700 Club on the global Christian Broadcasting Network
Quote on his work: “I want to be part of God’s plan of what He is doing on earth, and I want to bring Him glory.”
Hobby: Bench pressing – he claims he can bench press
2,000lb using his legs,
though the claim has raised eyebrows
Religion: Southern Baptist
Previously fallen out with: All followers of Islam, after calling it “a Christian heresy”. Israel, after claiming a stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon was an “an act of God for his attempt to give more land to the Palestinians”. Venezuela, after suggesting leader Hugo Charvez should be “taken out” (he later apologised).
Views: Against abortion and gay rights
Published work: A total of 17 books including Miracles Can be Yours Today.