- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2024

It’s no “Hoax.” Students at a Las Vegas Christian high school say there’s “Holy Ground” in Sin City, where “Bad Blood” and “Champagne Problems” can lead one to a “False God.”

That’s why students at Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School gather each week for a Bible study that incorporates the lyrics of pop superstar Taylor Swift. It just “Hits Different.”

“We take Taylor Swift song lyrics and we connect them to Bible [verses] and then we just talk about how they connect,” Bible group member Michael Vardanyan told KCTV, a television station in Kansas City, Missouri. “And so, I really like this club because we get connections, we get ‘Peace,’ and we get common likings.”

The stadium-filling singer-songwriter, who won her fourth Album of the Year Grammy Award this week, might not be the first person you think of when considering the Book of Deuteronomy, but Faith Lutheran students make a connection.

With its 2,100 and middle and high school students, Faith Lutheran is the largest Lutheran school in the United States and the largest non-public school in Nevada, CEO Steven Buuck told The Washington Times.

Both the school and sponsoring Faith Community Lutheran Church are affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod branch of the Protestant faith.

“Anytime we can make the Bible relevant — and even if it’s just the content of the lyrics that draws them the Bible study — and then they dive into God’s word, it’s connected to God’s Word,” Mr. Buuck said. “To me, it hits our mission statement: ‘Everyone prepared! Everyone saved!’”

Students gather before classes for “Tuesdays with Taylor — the Eras Bible Study,” a reference to her latest record-setting tour.

They found an echo from Scripture in her lyrics for “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” from Ms. Swift‘s 2019 album “Lover.”

“I’ll never let you go, ‘cause I know this is a fight that someday we’re going to win,” she sings.

The students link those words to Deuteronomy 20:3-4: “Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’” (New Living Translation)

The idea of a Swiftian Bible study blossomed when Becky Chaplin, Faith Community Lutheran Church’s family ministry director, chaperoned a student council retreat.

“I was talking with a group of students about Taylor Swift. I threw out the idea we could start a Bible study based on songs by Taylor Swift. With a 10-month school year and 10 Taylor Swift eras, the Eras Bible Study was born,” Ms. Chaplin told the television station.

Mr. Buuck said that while the school is distinctively Christian, its student body constitutes a mission field.

“We have 60% of our students are essentially unchurched,” he said. “[Of those] 32% literally don’t go to church and 32% of our students say they go once or twice a year. So, anytime we can get kids beyond chapel, beyond their theology class, to come on Tuesday mornings and dive into God’s word because Taylor Swift‘s lyrics got them to come, to me it’s just such a beautiful win-win.”

One could say it’s an “Epiphany.”

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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