The Confessions of Scott Stapp
The Confessions of Scott Stapp
The last time Christianity Today talked to Scott Stapp, Creed, the popular rock band he had fronted for nearly a decade, had just broken up after years of internal bickering.
It was the summer of 2004, and while his three bandmates went off to form their own group, Alter Bridge, Stapp pursued a solo career and, by his own reckoning, God. Fans had long speculated about Stapp's faith, but he was never very vocal about it because Creed didn't want to be pigeonholed as a "Christian band." But in that conversation with CT, Stapp came right out and said, "I am a Christian." He had just watched The Passion of the Christ and recorded a song for an album inspired by the film.
But shortly thereafter, Stapp started making news again for the wrong reasons. He got into a drunken brawl in a hotel lobby. He showed up intoxicated for a TV interview. Even after marrying a Christian woman in 2006, he was arrested for public drunkenness on the day after his wedding. A year later, he was arrested for domestic abuse after a night of partying; his wife, Jaclyn, dropped the charges after Stapp publicly apologized.
Today, Stapp has been sober for just over one year, and he's telling his story in a new memoir, Sinner's Creed (Tyndale), to be released October 2. In the book, Stapp confesses his many misdeeds and how he is now right with God. But he also reveals a troubling family background. When Scott—born Anthony Scott Flippen—was 8, his single mother married Steve Stapp, who was emotionally and physically abusive, according to Scott.
The singer writes that Steve Stapp told him God made man as "priest and prophet of the household. I make the rules, and the rules will be obeyed. When rules are broken, you are not only disobeying me, you are disobeying God. And your punishment will be enforced … Punishment without pain means nothing. The severity of the pain will keep you from repeating the offense …. I promise you will never forget my punishment. Because when I punish you, God is punishing you too." He claims Steve Stapp once said, "God created hell because he loves us. If I give you hell, it's because I love you."
Stapp says his stepfather ran the household with military precision, even using a timer for before-school routines—giving him exactly five minutes for a shower and to brush his teeth, six minutes to get dressed and get to the breakfast table, five minutes to wash, dry, and put away the dishes, and two minutes to get to the car. Anytime the timer elapsed before the deed was done, Scott would get a beating. His stepfather often cited Proverbs 13:24: "Whoever spares the rod hates their children."
No wonder the younger Stapp, who lived in constant fear of his father—and of God's punishment—grew up with issues, even as he became a multimillionaire rock star. He became a control freak, drove his bandmates crazy, and dealt with anger and depression. He even contemplated suicide in 2003, putting a pair of guns to his head. He writes that there was "no way out of this misery except to end it. The pain can't get any worse ...[A]ccept death. Be a martyr. Go down in history with Hendrix, Bonham, Joplin, Morrison, and Cobain." But before pulling the triggers, he opened his and saw a picture of his 4-year-old son Jagger on the wall; Stapp says it had "come to life," and Jagger was saying, "I love you, Daddy. I need you, Daddy. Stop it, Daddy." Stapp ended up firing 36 shots around the room, destroying "every award and achievement I had won with Creed," but also that "Jagger's unconditional love had saved my life."