Jump directly to the content

Displaying 1–42 of 42 comments

Elizabeth Austin

April 13, 2013  10:35pm

Kate, Your article, although rife with references almost reverberates with familiarity from the '70's folk services and modern music. Yikes! are we conforming way too much? Are we not separate enough? How then shall we live? (F. Shaffer). Theologically speaking, to me, it reflects a boring faith or Christian life as compared to how unexpectedly alive Christianity can be. Also, this phenom and reviewing the varied submissions has opened a fun opportunity for conversation and comic relief between my teen and I. Should we be cautious, yes, but should we condemn full on-not me. Like the wise scribes stated, trends come and go, if it is of God, it will last. I listen to rock, do the Harlem shake, and am confident of my salvation and testimony. We can agree to disagree on this one. THANKYOU for a stimulating commentary. Liz Austin

Report Abuse

Kristi Sullivan

April 01, 2013  3:25pm

I wonder if the comments saying their is nothing wrong with Christians engaging in this song, actually read the article. The author specifically states that one of the lyrics are "'Con los terroristas!' (With the terrorists!)" . I think Christians should stay away but even Americans in general. Thank you for the article!

Report Abuse

Jeremiah Parker

March 26, 2013  1:25pm

I agree that we should be thinking about what we are doing and why. I came to the conclusion that the Harlem Shake doesn't belong in church. I think many Christians (even those who are making these videos) would agree if they took the time to pause and reflect. http://jeremiahparker.blogspot.com/2013/03/whats-wrong-with-harlem-shake-in -church.html

Report Abuse

Erica Lamb

March 14, 2013  10:22pm

@Susie Jones - for what it's worth, I think the video that you saw with the pentagram on the floor was the cast of Supernatural (a TV show on the CW network) and that was one of their sets. I'm not sure that makes a difference with respect to your point, I just wanted to add a footnote that that particular video wasn't just a group of kids making light of something. With respect to the topic at hand, I don't think the Harlem Shake is anything to get hung up on. I think it has as much significance and cultural longevity as seeing how many college kids can fit into a phone booth.

Report Abuse

Shirley Fontaine

March 13, 2013  12:09pm

Speaking of culture, how is it that we embrace for centuries the pagan rituals of Christmas and Easter, yet condemn the passing fads? Putting a Christian spin on these memes is small potatoes compared to copying a pagan ritual of celebrating a ruler's birthday, on a pagan festival day, and holding it sacred in the church. It sounds like we're a bit hypocritical, doesn't it? Don't get me wrong; I love, love, love the Christmas holiday season with it's traditions and decorations and joyous message of the nativity. I know that stuff has all been added over the years, layer by layer, with the intention of making pagan traditions "holy." I am just as hypocritical as the next Christian. I'm just saying, there are bigger issues of cultural copying we need to recognize and address for what it truly is.

Report Abuse

Christofer Tamulevich

March 12, 2013  8:32pm

I don't know if you allow links - but our Bible Study group was actually moved to do our own version of the Harlem Shake - but its NOTHING like the other versions out there. As a result, our video has been under attack for the last two days as God haters have been sharing it through their networks and making it a target - any Christians out there who want to help us fend off the attacks with love are welcomed! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1lAbXFwK9U

Report Abuse

susie jones

March 11, 2013  8:19pm

We all are under different levels of knowledge. As the Bible tells us, for lack of knowledge God's people parish. I saw one of this videos that is trading today, several kids are given their opinion on it several are very honest about how they think this dance is ridiculous. I noticed very clearly on one of the videos a pentagram drawing on the floor where people were dancing. We are to be holy so my opinion is that we as Christians, we don't have any business dancing this pagan dances. I can go on and on but is not my job to be pleasing to God for you. I can only do it for my self. We're to be responsible for our own actions. Wish you all the best in learning what is pleasing to our father God. Ask God to give you the Holy Spirit to be your counselor. READ YOUR BIBLE Have a beautiful, blessed day!

Report Abuse

Brittany bennett

March 06, 2013  1:39pm

I think it's sad how bent out of shape people are getting based off her commentary. If you don't agree, then simply don't take it personally. However, I don't feel like she's being "judgmental" at all. What she's saying is that we can be so blind sometimes, like the world, by doing whatever we see "trending" in our society, without putting any real thought into why we're actually doing it (besides "having fun"). That can be extremely dangerous if you don't even know the origins behind the trends we find ourselves following. I, myself have done the same thing, as most of us, without seeing any real problem with things, or thinking they are simply harmless. But we'd be truly silly not to think that sometimes there are consequences to being blindly led by the world, and by not "waking up" and thinking for ourselves (with God's spiritual guidance). The message I think she's trying to send out is to simply think before we act or "follow" yet another trend. Living blindly saves no one.

Adam Denevic

March 04, 2013  11:55am

I find all of the comments here very interesting. Most comments deal with calling the author judgmental - but isn't that statement alone judgmental. I think the gist of what the author was getting at is that contemporary evangelicalism is desperately trying to be "relevant" and imitate the world. As I read down the comments I can almost hear the "clicking" in the background of people looking up "harlem shake" to see if it is bad. Isn't that the problem the author is getting at? We as Christians have much freedom in Christ. There is nothing "inherently sinful" with the harlem shake - but did anyone bother to make sure that was true before doing it? The author was using a simple example to make a much larger point - most Christians have absolutely no confidence that what we engage in is sinful or not - we simply hope it is okay. Good thing the secular world doesn't try to trap Christians...oh wait...

Report Abuse


March 04, 2013  6:23am

It seems to me that if the author thought the meme was wrong she would not have included links to three of the videos. You who pass judgement, do you do the same things?

Report Abuse

Dan from Georgia

March 03, 2013  7:01am

What is the problem with Christians doing the Harlem Shake? Nothing in my opinion. Besides, it is about 5 minutes away from running out of its "trendy and hip" time.

Report Abuse

Johan Kerkhofs

March 02, 2013  9:01pm

There's nothing wrong with Christians performing the Harlem Shake. I'm Christian myself and have we I've done one with fellow students -> Check it out -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wohHLBWcQ5w

Report Abuse

K. Smith

March 01, 2013  2:25pm

The staff at my church did a video of themselves doing the dance at their weekly staff meeting. Hilarious! I think it's a good (and non-sinful!) way to show nonbelievers that we're not a bunch of holy wet blankets.

Report Abuse

diane valens

March 01, 2013  2:23am


diane valens

March 01, 2013  2:14am

yea and if it is TRUE.. .where and what is the name of your so called CHURCH... YOU PEOPLE JUST WANT TO MAKE CHRISTIANS LOOK BAD.....

Report Abuse

diane valens

March 01, 2013  2:10am

you are just mocking the christians.... its either all fake video within video or just ppl acting out just like if their in church.... anyone can make a video and make it look like how they wanted it to look... i dont buy it....

Report Abuse

Bill Saunders

February 27, 2013  5:19pm

I lost a whole lot of respect for Christianity Today after seeing one of my friends who doesn't know the Lord post this article on FB in outrage and protest against followers of Jesus. It is frankly embarrassing and reflects a lack of understanding of the Gospel and should be taken down before it pushes more people farther away from the Lord. Your "argument" is that we need to be careful to examine traditions before taking part in them. Do you think Jesus cared more about tradition when he used dirty foot water used for cleansing rituals and turned it into wine as his first public miracle? Or did he care about the bride and groom? How about when he healed the man with the crippled hand in the temple on the sabbath? Jesus cared for people, above culture and tradition. I believe his words were. "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Live a little and reflect the joy, freedom and life we find in Christ.

Shelia Shook

February 27, 2013  12:18pm

As a parent of one of the students that participated in the above video I am appalled that you are casting such stones in judgement. You call yourself a christian I'm not sure you really understand the meaning of the word. This article was ridiculous and petty not to mention again judgmental.

Report Abuse

Christy White

February 26, 2013  10:30pm

Just to the right of this article there is a tag for an article that is evidently very popular right now which, frankly, many of us were very surprised to see in a "Christian" magazine. Before you hold someone up as a good example, please remember the scripture about how God feels about people who sin and people who cause people to fall into sin. His Word is very clear that we are not to cause people to sin. Scripture also speaks of sexual sin as not only sin against God, but sin against the body. So, I find it ironic we are questioning "The Harlem Shake" and holding high a Victoria's Secrets model.

Report Abuse

Garrett Hutchison

February 26, 2013  4:23pm

I think you need to relax. This is your attempt to gain popularity and get views on this article. Naming the title the way you did is straight up media sensationalism. Especially because you are calling out Liberty, a popular Christian university. It's sad...I'm sorry you must do this to gain viewers it must be a hard life. Sarcasm aside. There is not a problem with doing this "dance" if you want to call it that. This would fall under the realm of Christian liberties (Romans 14:1-23; I Corinthians 6:12-13; 8:1-13; 9:19-23; 10:23-33). If you really want to be fundamentalist about it then go right ahead, but there is nothing wrong with Liberty making this video.

Report Abuse

Jeremy Stone

February 26, 2013  10:01am

The title of this article is "The Problem With Christians Doing the Harlem Shake." Yet, no where does the author actually present a problem. She paints with a broad brush stroke to assume that Christians and Christians churches do almost no research as to what they are associating themselves with. I agree with the importance of knowing what you are supporting but this article is a stretch to say the least. It seems that the author did her best to say as little as possible with the most words she could think of.

Report Abuse

Justin Harris

February 25, 2013  2:55pm

This is a very interesting article by Kate Shellnut. However, I would strongly urge her to take her own advice before haphazardly throwing around the word "meme" without considering the specific context from which that word originated. Kate challenges Christians to think before embracing and joining in on certain cultural phenomena, but she is guilty of this herself by using a term coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. I am assuming she is intending the term to connote what it has commonly come to mean in our internet culture, but the word has a much deeper meaning that finds its roots in naturalism which directly opposes any theistic belief system. I would urge Kate to think about this before throwing around a word that is quite frankly as senseless as any of the Harlem Shake videos I have seen.

Report Abuse

audrey ruth

February 23, 2013  12:54pm

Seems to me the title expresses the content of the article.

Report Abuse

Heather Munn

February 22, 2013  8:20pm

Hey everybody, just wanted to mention... you all did notice that this article wasn't about how dancing is bad or about how imitating internet memes is sinful and worldly, right? It's just that some people don't seem to have noticed, which is perhaps understandable given the title (which if I know anything about internet publishing was NOT chosen by the author)... and the fact that the article may have been a wee bit hard to follow if you're skimming. It's just that I see all these comments about whether it's OK to be silly and dance on camera, and I don't see a single comment about commodification. Now, my comment's not about commodification either, if only because I can't really come up with an original thought on the matter, but I think Mr. Devitt is wrong that the article "didn't say anything"--and demonstrates it by going on to assume, like everyone else, that it was really just the legalistic frowny-face the title implies. Maybe these "controversial" titles aren't so great, CT.

Report Abuse

audrey ruth

February 22, 2013  6:14pm

What's next? A revival of the Streak? Rick, I don't understand why or how you compare this to David dancing before the Lord in worship. That was a whole 'nother thing, not mindless entertainment. A poster spoke of being "in the world, but not of it." How is this not of the world? Another poster assumes God is okay with this -- is He? Steve and Kenton, I'm with you guys. And ITA with the poster who is concerned about the lyric.

Report Abuse


February 22, 2013  3:35pm

For those who see something inappropriate in a little fun, I kind of feel you're missing the point. It's like those people who will only listen to "christian" music -- because any other enjoyment of the musical or lyrical that doesn't directly worship God is "wordly". Does everything that you do, say, wear, and participate in directly and ONLY point to something you deem holy? Let's be honest. I happen to believe that God created us to enjoy ourselves. If something isn't sinful then it's meant by God to be enjoyed. I'm not really sure where folks are seeing the "sin" in this. And frankly, I'm not sure how it's unhelpful, enslaving, or tearing-down for a group of christians to be a little silly, even if *gasp* non-christians happen to be doing it, too.

Report Abuse

Ben Hood

February 22, 2013  3:24pm

Deary me... Are we really that uptight and joyless that we need to have articles like this on CT? It is harmless fun! the greed, hatred and nihilism in this world is what Christians should be standing up against...But make sure you find a little time to "shake" and enjoy Gods good creation!

Report Abuse

Kenton Slaughter

February 21, 2013  8:59pm

This isn't about not having fun or being too "pretentious". This is about being wise, alert, aware. We are not as those who are blind, tossed about by every fad and craze. We are rooted in the light. So, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV) The sole point of the article is that we be about the will of the Lord always, for which it is necessary that we not blindly follow the world in everything. "Look carefully then how you walk". More accurately, "Look circumspectly". Be observant, not ignorant. That's not being pretentious. That's normal Christianity. Or as Paul put it: "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything... "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. (1 Cor 6:12; 10:23 ESV) Let's not act as though we are still of the world. That's not relevance, and we were never called to such. The apostles didn't turn the world upside down by conforming to it. And neither should we. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 ESV). Again he says, "You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men." (1 Corinthians 7:23 ESV)

Kathleen Mch

February 21, 2013  7:51pm

Trying to analyze internet-meme-dance-crazes is ludicrous. They are silly, fun, and fleeting -- and if you're determined to drag something light and fun like this down, you've got way too much time on your hands. Please go back to staring at your navel.

Report Abuse

LaBelle Amanda

February 21, 2013  1:40am

http://vimeo.com/celebration/review/60139662/27b2a4ec51 My church did the Harlem Haketoday before we went into our message of the evening and it was awesome! We laughed and danced and had a good time and then we got serious. Many people brought friends too who have yet to be saved and if anything it did set a tone that all Christians are not stuck up or pretentious. It was great.

Report Abuse


February 21, 2013  1:03am

I teach at a seminary, and last week we did the Harlem Shake, and laughed our butts off. The royal "we" included students and at least one Dean and others. The article is more pretentious that necessary citing post-modernists to disprove a joyous event subtly claiming that the Harlem Shake is too freighted with the baggage of racism, classism and colonialism to justify silliness. In addition, I do not need to know the root of everything under the sun to either enjoy or disprove said event. Sometimes I just want to have fun as long as it is not offensive to God or mankind. Moreover, it takes a genius to find offense as a communal event like the Harlem Shake. In addition, take a look at the videos, everybody is having a bit of fun, and it is fun. Take it from me, I partook in one. Oh, here is a Harlem Shake video done by Manchester City Football Club that is especially fun. Watch for the guy with the hospital cart.

Report Abuse

Shannon Wright

February 20, 2013  10:30pm

The real Harlem Shake, which originated in Harlem in the '80s and became hugely popular in the mid-2000s, is far superior and way more fun. I'm glad I didn't know about this ripoff of it.

Report Abuse

Steve Skeete

February 20, 2013  7:37pm

I like this new dance craze. Craze' is a good word to describe it since it suggests 'craziness' of some kind. I enjoyed reading the support the dance is receiving from Christians who are 'crazy' over the fact that Christians can be viewed by millions acting silly. What is wrong with that? What is right about it? But it is just fun; shouldn't Christians have fun? A dip in the ocean in the dead of winter can be fun too, but does it make sense? Who says 'fun' has to be sensible? A watching world need to see Christians enjoying themselves; they must realize that Christians are people, too. And didn't David 'leap and dance before the Lord' and in a state of 'undress', apparently? Perhaps David was simply responding to the latest 'craze' of his day, but then again, we know better. The internet, and its changing dance fads is making fools of many, God-fearing people included. Christians 'horsing' around in the name of cultural relevance to questionable dance trends should be re-examined.

Report Abuse

Steph M

February 20, 2013  6:50pm

Love this. I just watched the original video today, so this was timely. Whatever we think about whether this is fine or not, today's western Christians *must* be aware that our culture is either a-Christian or anti-Christian. We don't live in a bubble, for sure, but that doesn't mean that every mindless bit of fun is appropriate for us to appropriate. (Ha.) Wisdom is the key here. Culture matters, and too many Christians are too quick to assume that pop culture doesn't carry spiritual baggage. We need to be mindful of what we decide to do: The world is watching.

Report Abuse


February 20, 2013  5:03pm

Again, it seems that we're looking for a little sin in all the wrong places. Are we to be dour sour-pusses, glowering at all the "fun" the unredeemed are partaking in, just because we're christian and they (supposedly) aren't? I just don't get it. How better to become more appealing to other young adults who have this perception of christians as being uptight bigots than to participate in some innocent fun along-side them? I see Missionaries dancing!!!

Report Abuse

Sandra Duffy

February 20, 2013  4:16pm

It took time, energy, commitment and togetherness to arrange those episodes of joyful exuberance by the church groups and young people involved. On Christmas Day in my towns local church there was scarcely a teenager to be found. Plenty of zimmerframes though. Think about it.

Report Abuse

Tim Fall

February 20, 2013  2:58pm

Kate, I've seen the same thing locally with our High School mascot, the Blue Devil. Whenever someone brings up the problem with cheering on the Devils, someone else immediately says that it's not about real devils but about an obscure French military unit from a hundred years ago. What they miss is where the French military got the name. Then again, Paul said not to get wigged out about eating food that started out as idol fodder. S0 I don't get wigged out, but I do try to be thoughtful as you advise. Nicely done, Kate. Cheers, Tim P.S. About wearing crosses without meaning anything by it, I was one of those guys: http://timfall.wordpress.com/my-salvation-story/

Report Abuse

Carla Matos

February 20, 2013  2:58pm

I like the Harlem Shake. There's nothing wrong in a little fun. Check out my new t-shirt! http://racoontshirt.spreadshirt.com/

Report Abuse

Kate Shellnutt

February 20, 2013  2:50pm

@Christopher - I think the problem with Christians doing the "Harlem Shake" is the same problem as all memes... that we participate in a detached, surface-level way. This can affect how we approach other beliefs (such as our faith), which requires context for meaning.

Report Abuse

Christopher Devitt

February 20, 2013  1:53pm

Your headline was a lot more interesting than your article (clickbait much?). You didn't say what, if anything, IS problematic with Christians "doing" the Harlem Shake. Only that you think we should be more thoughtful before we make a Shake video, or retweet a meme or #whatever (yes, I oversimplified). On the off-chance you meant to imply there's something unholy about the lyric ("con los terroristas"), I would recommend a little more googleing to find out the context behind the expression. (HINT: nothing to do with al Qaeda). (I'm going for an honest, mildly snarky but still respectful tone. Edit as necessary)

Report Abuse

Rick Dalbey

February 20, 2013  1:11pm

Eric, it's called fun. Joie d vie. Nothing sinful, just the exuberance of teens and twenties. David leaped and danced before the lord in his skimpy linen ephod and embarrassed his wife. It is fun to see these Christian kids cutting up. They are not acting like the world, whatever that is. They are acting like redeemed saints having fun.

Report Abuse

Eric Jerermiah

February 20, 2013  12:59pm

....Or, we can just stop trying to emulate the world, it's ways and "trendiness", and just be imitators of Christ, emulating His ways. We need to stop trying to be like the world. Why on earth would God send Christ to die for our sins and save us from the ways of the world, just to have us go back to acting like the world? I ask you, Does that make spiritual common sense?


* Comments may be edited for tone and clarity.

Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Casserole-Toting Church Ladies Hold the Secret To Happiness

I found unexpected heroes—and a model for faithful living—in the elderly women at my church.

Follow Us


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies