Sabrina Carpenter’s New Music Video Reveals a Cultural Contempt for Churches
It’s not every day that a pop star gets a Catholic priest stripped of administrative duty, but 24-year-old Sabrina Carpenter recently managed to do just that. Carpenter’s new music video for her song “Feather” has several scenes which take place in a church. Filmed at the historic 19th-century Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Brooklyn, the juxtaposition of inappropriate content in a sacred space has rightly caused outrage among the faithful.
“Feather” is an upbeat song about how the singer feels free and happy after a breakup; indeed, she’s feeling “light as a feather.” Yet the music video is anything but cheery. The video opens with a scene from the church, then a pastel coffin reading “RIP B****.” Carpenter rolls up to the church in a pink hearse. The video then depicts a sequence of events in which men are doing somewhat crass and annoying activities, such as catcalling Carpenter, vying for her attention, and taking a secret picture of her rear end. These men all quickly experience grisly fates.
At one point in the music video, Carpenter is seen covered in blood stepping over the corpses of these men. Back at the church, Carpenter dances in a short black dress surrounded by the colorful coffins at the altar. The morbid video was released on October 31, 2023, to coincide with Halloween.
Monsignor Jamie J. Gigantiello granted permission for the production team to film on the property. The day after the music video was released, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn gave a statement to Catholic News Agency, saying it was “appalled at what was filmed at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Brooklyn.” The statement also noted the parish failed to follow the policy about filming on Church property. For his part, Monsignor Gigantiello released an apology on November 4, calling the video “provocative” and stating he “had no knowledge that such a scene would be filmed.”
But the real news in this story is not the naivete and negligence of one Catholic parish that allowed this sacrilegious activity to occur in a church. It’s that American culture has an increasing contempt for Christianity, Christian symbols, and places of worship.
Despite the scandal which earned national headlines and provoked church discipline, Carpenter appears largely unfazed. Far from apologetic, she insisted that her team “got approval in advance.” She further quipped, “and Jesus was a carpenter.”
Carpenter’s use of a beautiful Catholic church for a scene in her pastel-colored, horror-inspired music video was obviously disrespectful to a sacred space. She brought morbid and vulgar props into a place that is dedicated to prayer and worship. The fact that no one on her team thought this would be a problem (or didn’t care if it did cause problems) speaks volumes. The scenes are deeply offensive to Christians, and one might wonder if it is intentionally so. It is also worth noting that our culture would likely be less tolerant should similar disrespectful acts occur in Islamic mosques or other houses of worship.
While Christian symbols receive sacrilegious treatment in pop culture, satanic symbols are embraced without irony. Sam Smith’s Satan-inspired performance at the Grammys this year was just the tip of the iceberg. Doja Cat is using demonic imagery to sell her new album, and the recent music video for her song “Demons” is downright disturbing. Little Nas X gave the devil a lap dance in one of his recent music videos and infamously sold “Satan Shoes” featuring a pentagram, an inverted cross, and supposedly a drop of real human blood. It’s no accident that pop culture’s mockery of and open disdain for Christianity is soon followed by open admiration of Satan.
Societal respect for Christianity in the West is rapidly eroding. And the evidence is not merely symbolic — it’s physical too. Earlier this year, Family Research Council published a report which tracked acts of hostility against churches over the last five years. These included vandalism, arson, bomb threats, gun-related incidents, and other acts. The research found a pronounced rise in attacks over the reporting period. In 2022, the report identified 191 acts of hostility against churches in 2022. That number is nearly double the incidents in 2021, which numbered 96. FRC also identified 54 incidents against churches in 2020, 83 in 2019, and 50 in 2018.
These crimes against churches can demonstrate an ugly and often inexplicable contempt. For example, vandals broke into Dellabrook Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Valentine’s Day and sprayed a fire extinguisher all over the church. The ventilation and air conditioning system picked up the powder residue from the fire extinguisher and spread it throughout the building, causing around $40,000 in damage. Luellen Curry, who works at the church, told a local news station, “I just don’t understand. I keep wondering why. It shows a great deal of anger. And were they angry at us? Were they angry at churches? Were they angry at God?”
Churches are the targets of attacks (in pop culture and in real life) because our culture has a growing disdain for Christianity and core Christian beliefs. In theory, that shouldn’t matter. Everyone in our culture, even non-Christians, should be able to treat churches with respect or at least not go out of one’s way to disrespect, desecrate, or damage them. This must be the standard we hold everyone to, including pop stars.
Arielle Del Turco is Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, and co-author of "Heroic Faith: Hope Amid Global Persecution."