10 Percent of Christian Teens Miss Morality Issue in Music Trading

Debate over a recent study by the Barna Research Group, not yet made public, which found only 10 percent of Christian teens consider music piracy to be morally wrong has been making headlines. The big question for weighing the pros and cons include: Is it morally wrong to copy music even if the intentions are good?

What is more shocking to some is that the new study on teens and piracy for Gospel Music Association shows Christian teenagers pirating music by way of internet downloading or burning CDs at the same rate as non-Christians.

Many Christian teens view the copying the music as "a cheap way to witness to the Gospel," according to The Dallas News who received results of the study from Gospel Music Association President John Styll. The Dallas News called the act stealing and they are not alone. Word Records President Barry Landis said stealing Christian music is like stealing Bibles -- and just as wrong.

Many believe the drop in sales of Christian albums is attributed to internet downloads and CD-burning, according to Styll who said sales of Christian albums dropped more than 5 percent last year.

For some teens, sales dropped because they bought less as access to preview the music decreased.

"Personally, I think that I used to buy more music back when I could listen to new artists on Napster to see if I liked the music," said one teen.

The pirating debate has met unusual circumstances because unlike mainstream media who would consider the act a purely legal issue and pursue retribution accordingly, the Christian music industry see it as a moral issue but are unsure of what to step to take next. "We take it further and say it's a moral issue," said Styll. "But we're not going to sue people. It just doesn't seem right. And nobody really has the will to do it."

However, the Christian music industry will most likely attempt to discourage pirating. "It's going to take an enormous educational effort," said Landis.

Many articles written on the issue have reiterated the "Thou shall not steal" commandment from the Ten Commandments to argue that the definition of stealing is not situational.

Katherine T. Phan
Ecumenical Press