Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

How religious will this camp be? :-)

I belong to the Gold Pickers club and I’ve read @BanjoBen 's bio, so I know full well how religious he and his sisters are; I also know how Christianity is interspersed into bluegrass and country music, because I grew up with it in Kentucky and Tennessee. So I follow the Purple Hulls on Facebook and I just read a comment by one of the girls and after reading it, I just had to ask how much prayer, and other overt christian rituals, figure in at the camp. It has always bothered me how many times people have just met me and, because I’m a 62 year old southern male, just assumed I’m a right-wing, conservative, christian. I am none of the above. I’m not trying to start anything or put anyone on the spot, I just have to know what to expect.

Thanks; Steve



I am not going to the camp or anything… and I am a Christian… but I do applaud your honesty to pose this upfront, openly and honestly.


Outside of playing some gospel songs, how much proselytizing would you expect?
I’m not going to banjo camp, so this is all totally for the sake of discussion.
Personally, I would expect very little preaching, but I would expect to see people living their faith. They might say a prayer before a meal or thank the Lord for giving them the good health to enjoy the gathering.
And I would expect I would play some bluegrass gospel songs, not for the sake of saving my soul but because they are good songs with pleasing melodies and rollicking riffs. No doubt after a gospel song someone will praise Jesus, but trell me which song on this list you wouldn’t want to play?
Anyway, that’s what I would expect. And I’m Catholic!
And when I meet a a 62 year old southern male, I think of the Allman Brothers.
I must be spending too much time at church.
Cue “Lord I was born a rambling man…”


@HeloSteve, I went last year and am signed up for the first week this year. Full disclosure: I am a Christian.
I didn’t feel like there was any pressure or emphasis placed on trying to change anyone’s views on any of the topics you mentioned. The goal here was to make friends, have a good time, and learn something in the process.
My fears had more to do with being able to play in front of anyone other than myself. It was a big obstacle. Rest assured it was a low-stress gathering last year, a very laid-back atmosphere, and an overall positive experience that has brought me back for more.
Obviously, many bluegrass songs make references to Christian topics (as you pointed out), but also a large percentage don’t. If you’re comfortable getting exposed to the mix that anyone might normally expect when listening to bluegrass music, you will be will not be disappointed in any way. It is a warm, and welcoming mix of folks from many different walks of life.


Thank you. I’ve loved bluegrass since I was a child, it’s part of who I am and the culture I was raised in, so I’m certainly expecting bluegrass to be as sprinkled with Christian lyrics as it always has. I don’t shun things because they’re religious, My work as a corporate pilot has placed me in some uncomfortable positions when flying for people who are religious and expect me to be willing to follow their customs. I just want to know what to expect.


What? You got a problem praying that you land the plane safely? :slight_smile: :wink:


“What? You got a problem praying that you land the plane safely? “

Not unless they all try to lay hands on me when they do their praying! And that happened!


Wow. If people were pawing my pilot, I’d be praying :wink:
“The more firma, the less terra!”

Anyway, “Steam Powered Aeroplane” is a great banjo song!


Hey Steve, these are all great questions to ask. Based on last year’s camp, I would assume we are going to pray before each meal— not because it’s a religious ritual or anything like that, but because we want to thank God for His provision that we definitely don’t deserve. I personally wouldn’t even go so far as to say that Christianity is a “religion”— Christianity is quite simply trusting Jesus Christ for salvation and following Him as a result— not a requirement— of salvation. I don’t classify myself as religious at all— I just receive the facts about Jesus Christ and what the Bible says and trust Him for my salvation. After all, the Jewish leaders that crucified Jesus were very religious, but lost! You might hear Ben or others talking about their faith, because it is— and rightly is— the most important thing in the universe to them.

I totally get your last point. I don’t assume someone is a follower of Jesus Christ just because they were born below the Mason-Dixon line or something like that. It bothers me as well how many people have just assumed, because they are a 62 year old southerner, that they are a Christian and right with God.

Either way, I believe you will thoroughly enjoy the camp and progress on your instrument while you are there!




just curious… why is it that you don’t believe the bible?


Hi Johnny. Why the curiosity ? It’s common knowledge not everyone believes in the bible. Each of us is entitled to our own beliefs and faiths, some folks have no religion some have turned away from religion. Maybe Steve just want’s to attend the camp and not participate in a religious service. He may feel alienated and may feel obligated to participate in something he doesn’t believe in. It’s best he asks now, and receives an answer.


Thanks for the honest question, @HeloSteve, and I’ll do my best to answer.

In short, I don’t assume anyone is a Christian, especially if I meet them at church. Regarding the religious atmosphere of the camp, I try to be careful not to offend. I don’t even open up the backyard baptistry till Friday evening.

Ok ok, all joking aside, I think the easiest way to answer is that I have a Mormon, Buddhist, and atheist who came to the camp last year–and they’re all coming back. Actually that could be a joke, couldn’t it: So a Mormon, Buddhist, and atheist walk into a Southern Baptist’s house…

I will pray before each meal and invite folks to church with me on Sunday–outside of that, I’m just normal me who operates with a Christian worldview that loves everyone. If you feel welcome on my site, you’re gonna feel welcome at my house. I’m excited to meet you!


While this is the case, I don’t see anything wrong with asking why. Most people know that not everyone believes it, but less people know why not everyone believes it. It can do both parties good to understand the reasoning behind the disbelief; on the part of the non believer to consider and verbalize why they don’t (cuz a surprising number of people don’t even know why they don’t), and on the part of the believer to better understand the other’s point of view.

This is understandable, but it is in no way undermined by Johnny’s question.

I would expect prayer before meals, gospel songs, and lots of missions conversation, but not at the exclusion of anything else. It isn’t a church camp, it’s a music camp, and designed to be a welcoming environment for everyone


Haha. That’s funny.

I wondered why you were building that hot tub.




I thought that would be for scalding that hog for the BBQ :wink:


Hi Gunnar

I live in a country where asking that kind of question can and does create conflict.

The UK is multi religious multi faith and no faith country. In NI conflict between two Christian sects has been raging on pretty much since October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther, angry with Pope Leo X’s new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter’s Basilica, nailed a sheet of paper with his 95 Theses on the University of Wittenberg’s chapel door. sparking the reformation of the church across Europe.

For many years the church in Scotland had to meet in secret to hold a religious service for fear of being killed, Churches were regularly burnt to the ground. If you’d like to learn more I encourage you to read about, Martin Luther, John Knox the Scottish Reformer, The British Monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church, The Reformation of the church in Scotland and The Protestants and Catholic Conflict in Northern Ireland.

To me a man or women is free to choose whatever religion they are inclined to follow and it’s my believe that is written into the US constitution, even though I haven’t read it. I am sure someone will correct me if I got it wrong.

As a soldier who served in NI during “The Troubles” back in the 1970s my role was to help keep the peace by keeping the two communities apart and allow them to worship God in a way of their choosing. No easy task when these two communities are shooting, bombing and murdering each other at every opportunity they can. Thankfully peace has been restored to the Provence but many grievances remain.

I am a Christian but I no longer attend church. not because I don’t believe but because I lost confidence in the church leadership.

Many people across Africa have been killed for being a Christian. So it’s worth stepping back and looking at the bigger picture and ask. Why?

My question to Johnny. Why the curiosity ? Does it offend Johnny if Steve is not a Southern Baptist?

I don’t know anything about the Baptist Church or the Quakers, or the Amish, the Jehovah Witness or the Mormons or the Jewish Church. What I do know is I have respect for their right to worship in the way of their choosing.

~ In short I don’t discriminate.


Now, I don’t profess to speak for anyone else but I am an Athiest. However, I would never be worried about going to Ben’s camp. Yes, Ben and his family are religious. Ben is a preacher so naturally you would have to expect some Christian fellowship as that is their way of life and it is at their home. I hope to make it to Ben’s camp someday and I have no problem with them exercising their faith because I don’t see them forcing me to participate but I would also not be disrespectful. Conversely my wife would probably be more than happy to participate. Unless they hold me down and try to “save me” then there is really nothing to worry about. BTW Ben, you are a Preacher, a very talented multi-instrumentalist, a Pilot and the other day I heard you speaking Spanish…is there anything you can’t do?


Play the fiddle like an expert gif


I would bet he could pick one up and saw off a tune