When reggae music first hit it big in the '60s behind forerunners like Bob Marley, it remained controversial because of its common association with Rastafarianism and marijuana use. Decades later, it's a stigma that Mark Mohr, leader and founder of pioneering Christian reggae group Christafari, continues to battle. Interestingly, the opposition doesn't come from conservative Christian types. Rather, it's Caribbean believers who are giving him the hardest time. In this conversation with Christian Music Today, Mohr discusses this cultural dichotomy, along with the history of his band, his ministry vision, and the myth that all reggae musicians do backstage is smoke weed.
How did you first become interested in reggae music?
Mark Mohr When I was a kid, I was into every kind of music that you can imagine. But when I went to Jamaica as an early teen, that's when I was truly first introduced to reggae. I fell in love with it. Bob Marley's Legend was the first album I bought. At that time, I was as rebellious as one can be. I was involved in drugs. One of the things that really drew me to reggae was its association with marijuana and its attempts to justify it. [I was drawn to] its attempts to misquote Bible verses and take them out of context to prove that marijuana is OK, which it is not.
A few years later after I truly came to Christ and repented of my sins, I still had the love for the genre. I felt God impressing on my heart to start a reggae band that was based on the world, but to do it for him—in an effort to reach people that were susceptible to falling into the sin that I had fallen into, or that were already there. To become all things to all men.1
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This Mon Be Jammin'
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