Spiritual paths and ethical systems
The Goth culture: Its history,
stereotypes, religious aspects, etc.
I hope you see the humor in this; humor always involves risk:
Quotations by Goths:
- "...being Goth, for me, is seeing beauty, and its coming
destruction, at the same time. For me...It's the last dance as the walls are
crumbling around you..." Beatgrrl
- "[Goth] is the ability to find the art where art seems to be lacking; to find
the light in the darkness and embrace it for all its worth..." Jennifer Mason
- "When a Goth dies, God laughs." R.G. Green from the parody web
Why discuss the Goth culture on a religious website?
In the aftermath of the student and staff murders at Columbine high school in Littleton
CO in 1999-APR, some of the media searched for simple reasons to explain the
terrible tragedy. Some reporters bypassed the obvious causes (two teens having
easy access to handguns and rifles; sustained ridicule, harassment, and rejection by their peers; their lack of respect for human life; their lack
of hope for the future; etc.). Some reporters mentioned that the alleged perpetrators
followed the Goth culture. A few reporters have incorrectly associated Goth with Satanism, violence, white supremacy and intolerance. The
implication was that the Goth culture had been the cause of the alleged perpetrators'
obsession with revenge, and thus is at least partly responsible for the homicides. Some
- "...morose subculture of Gothic fantasy."
- "They're basically outcasts, Gothic people, They're into anarchy. They're white
supremacists and they're into Nostradamus stuff and Doomsday."
- "Black trench coats are a consistent theme in the Gothic subculture that has
attracted many teenagers to the poetry, music and costumes of a scene that ranges from
benign fantasy to violent reality."
- "Inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Gothic has become a
fascination of many American high schoolers, some of whom simply dress and paint their
fingernails black while others immerse themselves in a pseudo medieval world of dark
- "Tuesday was Hitler's birthday, an occasion for demonstrations, mock funerals
and other macabre commemorations among both neo-Nazis and parts of the Gothic scene."
The perpetrators at Littleton were apparently not Goths; rather, they had incorporated some
Goth symbolism into their group's unique image. Similarly, they held hands in school; not
because they were bisexual or homosexual, but in order to shock other students. Their goal
was to disturb their fellow students and distance themselves from the school jocks who
ridiculed and harassed them.
What is the Goth culture?
It is basically indefinable, because "Goth" means different things to each
follower. Many adopt unusual fashions in order to separate themselves from other
youth. Gordon A. Crews, associate dean of the School of Justice Studies
at Roger Williams University in Bristol, CT is an investigator of what he
calls the "occult" which-- in his opinion -- includes
the Goth culture. He said: "It is up to the
individual to define what Goth is for themselves ... The mentality is, 'I want
to be left alone but I want to be seen. I want to see the shock on other
peoples' faces." 11
Some factors that are commonly observed are:
- Its unique music, art and literature.
- The use of extreme black clothing, light colored makeup, unusual hair styles,
body piercing, bondage items, etc.
- A fascination with medieval, Victorian and Edwardian history.
- Wearing of symbols such as a Christian cross; an Egyptian ankh or
"Eye of Ra," or "Eye of Horus;" a Wiccan pentacle,
a Satanic inverted pentacle. etc. 14
- Goths tend to be non-violent, pacifistic, passive, and tolerant. Many in the media have
mistakenly associated Goth with extreme violence and hatred of minorities, white
- Many Goths write about being
depressed. Followers seem sullen and withdrawn, when in public. They are often
much more "happy and
carefree in the company of [other] Goths." 1
Examples of depression are:
- "Tigriss," commenting on her own life, writes: "So my gothic
persona fit me quite well. My black clothing and dark music aptly
reflected my own depression, pain, and anger which was what I made
most of my life about. Most of my goth friends had dysfunctional
families and troubled childhoods as mine. We could identify with each
other through our dark make-up and painful pasts." 12
- Researcher Jasin Tamlin comments: "If you take a look at the
640 sites that are listed on the Gothic Web Ring, you will find many
of them filled with desperation, depression, anger, hatred, despair
and angst." 13
- "A lot of people turn to the Gothic subculture after having a hard
time in school, feeling alienated, and looking for a way to express themselves
that mirrors those feelings. Others find the scene through literature,
still others want to be shocking." 1
- Goth music often deals with thought-provoking topics, concentrating on societal evils,
like racism, war, hatred of groups, etc. Their music tends to concentrate on the very "nasty,
unhappy" topics that "North American culture" wants to "ignore
- A fascination with death. They try "to find a different way of thinking about
life, like trying to find beauty in life, pain and death. It's all a quest for
- In contrast,
many Goths are optimistic about the future and see much beauty in the world.
- Some Goths enjoy playing role playing games. However, RPGs are
not an integral component of Goth culture. It is just that those intellectual and creative
challenges that draw them to the Goth scene make them more likely to enjoy RPGs as well.
- Other interests: writings by authors like Dante, Byron, Tolstoy; German Expressionist
silent films; writing music; painting, etc.
History and background:
- The words Goth and Gothic have had many, largely unrelated meanings
in the past:
- the name of the Germanic Visigoth tribes that overthrew the Roman Empire. From
this source arose the concept of a Goth as an uncivilized person, a barbarian. 4
- a style of architecture in Western Europe which was popular from the 12th to
the 16th century.
- a style of horror/mystery literature that is dark, eerie and gloomy.
- Goth, as a modern movement, started as one component of the punk rock scene. As the
latter faded, Goth survived by creating its own subculture.
- The first use of the term Goth in its present meaning is believed to
have been on a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) TV program. Anthony H. Wilson, manager of Joy Division described
the band as Gothic compared with the pop mainstream. The name stuck.
- Their use of black clothing was originally "something of a backlash to the
colorful disco music of the seventies." 5 It also
- The movement first became established in the Batcave, a nightclub in London,
England, in the early 1980's. 3
- Spreading to the U.S., it first became popular in California.
- Goth is featured in The Crow horror movies (1994, 1996). Other Gothic movies
are the original Nosferatu, the color remake Nosferatu the Vampyre, and
the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.
- Popular music bands are the Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Sisters of Mercy, Dead Can Dance, and many others.
Many Goths reflect popular culture and are probably nominal or devout Christians. Atheism, Agnosticism, the New Age, Gnosticism, Shamanism, Wicca, other Neopagan traditions, and other minority faith groups are
represented more frequently than in the general population.
Goths often wear Christian crosses or Christian crucifixes, which many regard
as a pre-Christian religious symbol. Others wear New Age/ancient Egyptian Ankh
symbols. Some do this as expression of their religious beliefs, some for satire, and others
because they like their appearance.
Religion is frequently discussed on the Goth newsgroups. Many songs, band names and
album titles have Christian themes. 6
The public incorrectly commonly associates Goths with Marilyn Manson. 10
"Manson publicly presents himself as a follower of the Church of Satan...
He was ordained a priest in the Church of Satan by the [late] founder, Anton LaVey. Many
fans refer to him as the Rev. Marilyn Manson." 9 (Actually,
Manson is not a follower of that Church; he was simply appointed as a Reverend within the
Church by its founder, Anton LaVey.) From this Satanic connection, the perception has
grown that Goths are frequently linked to Satanism. There are a
few Satanists who are also Goths, but they are rare.
People have accused or described Goths as being:
- Unusually bigoted,
- Involved in illegal drugs,
- Vampires or believe themselves to be vampires,
- Musicians, painters, and other artists,
- Computer programmers (although there seem to be a lot of them)
- Wearers of black (some wear white and gunmetal),
- Dyers of their hair,
- Users of white makeup. 4
Some of the above probably apply to some Goths, but
definitely not to all.
Anti-Goth parody website:
Please do not read
the next six paragraphs unless you
have a strong
stomach, are slow to anger, and are over 18.
GodHatesGoths.com is apparently a lampoon
website written from an exaggerated fundamentalist Christian point of view.
They present themselves as the official website of an apparently non-existent
organization "Parents Against Goth" headed by a fictional character, Rev.
R. G. Green. He writes: "I hope you will find much comfort in the message of
hope and inspiration our website offers."
He quotes the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and its list of crimes for
which the penalty is death: Witchcraft,
Satanism, Divination, spell
casting, acting as a medium, rebellion against one's parents, blasphemy,
worshiping Gods other than Yahweh, disrespecting a member of the clergy. He
implies that these prohibitions and their punishment by execution are still
He interprets the Bible as condemning to Hell all
Buddhists, Goths, Hindus,
Wiccans, as well as children who die young or
individuals who are challenged mentally. Aborted fetuses
will also "burn in Hell."
Unfortunately, many visitors to that site will assume that it is a legitimate fundamentalist Christian website and believe that it contains useful information.
"GOD ALSO DETESTS RETARDS. DOWN SYNDROME,
CEREBAL [sic] PALSY, THALIDOMIDES [sic], DWARFISM, SPINA BIFIDA, AND OTHER
CREATURES SPASTIC RETARDATIONS ARE REPULSIVE TO GOD. THE BIBLE STATES QUITE
CLEARLY THAT THESE TWISTED LIMBLESS MONSTERS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ANYWHERE
NEAR A CHURCH, AS THEY ARE UNCLEAN AND REPULSIVE TO GOD. THEY ARE AN
ABOMINATION. THEY HAVE MINDS OF SUCH A REPROBATE NATURE THAT THEY ARE GIVEN
TO SEXUALLY GRATIFYING THEMSELVES IN PUBLIC, AND ARE NOTHING MORE THAN
SLOBBERING STAMMERING ANIMALS. WHY SHOULD THEY GET THE BEST CARE? GET GRANTS
TO BUILD RAMPS FOR THEM? WHEELCHAIRS? PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT? IF GOD DID NOT
INTEND THEM TO WALK, LET THEM CRAWL LIKE THE SNAKES THEY ARE."
"GOTHS ARE PROUD OF THEIR SIN, PROUD TO
PARADE AROUND LIKE SICK HALLOWEEN FREAK-SHOWS, PROUD TO DEGRADE THEIR BODIES
WITH TATTOOS AND PIERCINGS, PROUD TO ENGAGE IN FILTHY SEXUAL
PERVERSIONS, AND IN THAT PRIDEFUL STATE THEY CANNOT REPENT - YOU CANNOT
REPENT OF SOMETHING YOU'RE PROUD OF. PRIDE IS ONE OF THE 7 ABOMINABLE SINS
WHICH ARE HATED BY GOD."
"THE GOTHS' ONLY HOPE IS TO HAVE THE
UNAMBIGUOUS TRUTH PREACHED TO THEM, AND PERHAPS GOD WILL SOFTEN THEIR HEARTS
AND GRANT THEM REPENTANCE TO DEPART FROM THEIR SIN AND NAME THE NAME OF
CHRIST. NOT VERY LIKELY, THOUGH, SINCE GOD HAS GIVEN UP ON THEM. HE HAS
ABANDONED THEM. HE SHALL MOCK THEM WHEN THEY SUFFER, AND LAUGH AT THEIR
DEMISE. WHEN A GOTH DIES, GOD LAUGHS."
Helpful Goth resources:
- ChristianGoth.com provides "a haven for people who have found the
Truth through the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ)." See:
They have a listing of Goth-friendly Christian churches at:
- Dream-Gate is a British supplier of Gothic pendants, bracelets,
rings, etc. as well as band t-shirts. See:
- Euphonika, according to Scanner: "... pushes outwards,
fusing unsettling imagery, serial killers, rudely obsessed doll fanatics
within a vaudeville circus atmosphere, leaving this viewer disoriented,
unsteady, yet thirsting for more" See:
- EZ Merchandise has a wide selection of skull t-shirts. See: http://www.ezmerchandise.com/
The Gothic Resource Network is a large and very active website
featuring information on entertainment, news, shopping, etc. They have
chats, message boards, personal pages, and other features online. See:
- Gothic Clothing supplies the latest designs of Gothic clothing, pirate shirts, medieval clothings, Gothic corsets, etc. at an affordable cost. See: http://www.thegothicclothing.co.uk/
- Iniquity supplies Goth clothing and accessories. See:
- MakeupPad.com has a list of links dealing with Gothic make up at:
- Moon Maiden Gothic Clothing in the UK sells a "... range of
exclusive gothic clothes; including plus sizes and made to measure gothic
clothing at no extra charge! They ship worldwide. See:
- Pyretta's Lair is another British supplier with Gothic clothing,
Pagan/Wiccan supplies, etc. See:
Amazon.com's online bookstore lists the following books on the Goths:
If you see a generic Amazon ad here, please click on your browser's refresh
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- S. Evans & M. Ardill, "Relax, it's just black," Toronto Star,
1999-APR-25, Page D16 - D17.
- "R. Forsey & S. Drakes, "Goths paint life black," Toronto
Star, 1999-APR-27, Page C1 & C3.
- "Goth," alt.culture, at: http://www.altculture.com/
- Ice Princess, "Academia Gothica," a course of study in the
subculture at: http://www.blarg.net/
- Peter Wake, "Frequently asked questions list for alt.gothic newsgroup,"
An updated version is maintained by tom Fosdick at: http://www.darkwave.org.uk
- ShanMonster, "Jesus was Gother than You," at: http://www.bigfoot.com/
- "Media's incorrect useage of 'Gothic' in Colorado tragedy," at: http://www.darklinks.com
- Some websites with many links to Goth resources are:
- Julie Carroll, "Marilyn Manson brings death rock to children," at: http://www.dwc.org/
- The website angelmanson.com bills itself as "the most
'in-depth' Marilyn Manson website on the Internet." See: http://www.angelmanson.com
- Wendy M. Fontaine, "'Goth' defined: Seminar sheds light on what is
behind mysterious teenage trend," The Newport Daily News, 2003-OCT-30, at:
- Tigris, "I was a teenage Goth," at:
- Justin Tamlin, "Analysis of a subculture group: Goth," at:
- "Common Culture," at:
Copyright © 1999 to 2011 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-MAR-26
Author: B.A. Robinson