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Out of all of the Southern Californian hardcore punk bands of the early '80s, Bad Religion stayed around the longest. For over a decade, they retained their underground credibility without turning out a series of indistinguishable records that all sound the same. Instead, the band refined their attack, adding inflections of psychedelia, heavy metal, and hard rock along the way, as well as a considerable dose of melody. Between their 1982 debut and their first major-label record, 1993's Recipe for Hate, Bad Religion stayed vital in the hardcore community by tightening their musical execution and keeping their lyrics complex and righteously angry.
Bad Religion formed in the northern suburbs of Los Angeles in 1980, comprising guitarist Brett Gurewitz, vocalist Greg Graffin, bassist Jay Bentley, and drummer Jay Ziskrout. Gurewitz established his own record company, Epitaph, to release the band's records. Between their self-titled EP and their first full-length record, Pete Finestone replaced Ziskrout as the group's drummer. How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, their debut album, was released in 1983 and gained them some attention on the national U.S. hardcore scene. After its release, the group's lineup changed, as bassist Paul Dedona and drummer Davy Goldman joined the group.
In the meantime, the band's lineup was undergoing some more shakeups. Gurewitz had to take 1984 off to recover from various substance abuse problems, leaving Graffin as the band's only original member. In addition to Graffin, the 1984 incarnation of the band featured former Circle Jerks guitarist Greg Hetson, bassist Tim Gallegos, and returning drummer Pete Finestone. Bad Religion's next release, the harder, punkier Back to the Known EP restored faith among the group's devoted fans. After its release, the group went on hiatus for three years.
When Bad Religion returned in 1987, the band featured Gurewitz, Graffin, Ziskrout, Hetson, and Finestone. They released Suffer the following year, a record that re-established the group as prominent players in the U.S. underground punk/hardcore scene. They followed with No Control (1989) and Against the Grain (1990). By the time of their 1993 album, Recipe for Hate, alternative rock had become popular with the mainstream; in addition, the band's following was quite large. These two factors contributed to Bad Religion signing a major-label contract with Atlantic Records.
Recipe for Hate was originally released on Epitaph, but it was soon re-released with the support of Atlantic. The group's first proper major-label album was 1994's Stranger Than Fiction; it was also Gurewitz's last album with the group. Before the release of Stranger Than Fiction, Epitaph had an unexpected hit with the Offspring's Smash, causing Gurewitz to spend more time at the label; reports also indicated that he was displeased with Bad Religion's major-label contract. The group replaced Gurewitz with hardcore veteran Brian Baker for their supporting tour, which proved to be their most successful to date.
Bad Religion released their second major-label album, The Gray Race, in early 1996, but it didn't achieve the same results as its predecessors. No Substance followed in 1998, and two years later the band returned with New America, which was produced by Todd Rundgren. Although it featured Bad Religion's best work in years, Atlantic subsequently dropped the band, and they returned to Epitaph. In the summer of 2001, Gurewitz rejoined the lineup after a six-year absence, and the group began work on The Process of Belief. The album appeared in February the following year, and was widely hailed for its recalibration of the Graffin/Gurewitz axis.
Bad Religion's next project was the remastering and issuing of their early catalog. The discs began appearing in April 2004 with the release of Generator and How Could Hell Be Any Worse? The former included relevant 7" material from the era, while Hell took the place of 80-85, which had previously accounted for the band's earliest output. Both were fully remastered, as were subsequent reissues of Suffer, No Control, and Against the Grain. Bad Religion then returned in June of that year with The Empire Strikes First, a typically acerbic LP that reflected the surge of anger and defiance in the punk and indie music communities toward the policies of the Bush administration.
The powerful New Maps of Hell, released in 2007, continued on the path of discontent and railed at what the band saw as rampant apathy in the face of global crisis. Coinciding with Bad Religion's 30th anniversary in 2009, the bandmembers announced they would be going into the studio to record their 15th studio album. The album, titled The Dissent of Man, was released the following year on Epitaph. Rumors circulated that the group might be disbanding, but Graffin denied that there were any such plans, and in 2013 Bad Religion released True North.
Bad Religion is a punk rock band that formed in Los Angeles in 1979. The band makes extensive use of soaring 3-part vocal harmonies (which they refer to in their album liner notes as the "oozin' aahs"), guitar solos and intellectual lyrics that often contain political or religious commentary. Their lyrics often relate to matters of social responsibility. The band's lineup has changed several times over its lifespan, with lead vocalist Greg Graffin being the only consistent member; the current lineup, however, features three out of four of the band's original members (Graffin, Brett Gurewitz and Jay Bentley). Bad Religion has released sixteen studio albums, two live albums, three compilation albums, two EPs, and two DVDs (which were both recorded live). Although they gained a cult following with many of their early albums, Bad Religion did not experience major worldwide commercial success until the 1994 release of their eighth studio album Stranger Than Fiction, which spawned their biggest hits "Infected" and a re-recorded version of "21st Century (Digital Boy)", and was certified gold in both the United States and Canada. Their latest album, True North, was released on January 22, 2013. Bad Religion has sold over 5 million albums worldwide, and along with many of their contemporaries—such as The Offspring, Green Day, Rancid, NOFX and Social Distortion—they are one of the best-selling punk rock acts of all time.
Formation and early recordings (1979–1982) 
Bad Religion was formed in Los Angeles in 1979 by high school students Greg Graffin, Jay Bentley, Jay Ziskrout, and Brett Gurewitz. According to bassist Jay Bentley, Bad Religion started around November or December 1979, "but no one can remember exactly. Greg Graffin wanted the year 2000 to be Bad Religion's 20th birthday". Their first public performace was playing 6 songs at a Fullerton California warehouse opening for Social Distortion. Their first official show was on November 11, 1980 at Joey Kills Bar in Burbank, California.
In 1981, the band released their initial eponymous album on the newly formed label, Epitaph Records, which was and continues to be managed and owned by Gurewitz. In 1982, the band began recording their first full-length album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?. During the recording of this album, drummer Jay Ziskrout quit the band, and was replaced by Peter Finestone. How Could Hell Be Any Worse? was also distributed by the band under the Epitaph label, and sold roughly 12000 copies.
Into the Unknown, Back to the Known and hiatus (1983–1985) 
In 1983, the band released Into the Unknown, a keyboard-driven album with a slightly slower pace. Almost all of the albums the band produced were sold out of the warehouse they were housed in without the band's knowledge, after which this album went out of print. This incident, as well as band members' increasingly divergent personal lives, led to the band's temporary dissolution shortly after the album's release.
Soon after, Graffin reassembled Bad Religion with Circle Jerks guitarist Greg Hetson replacing Gurewitz, who had gone into rehab for his drug problem. Bad Religion returned to a somewhat mellower, rock and roll version of their original sound with the Back to the Known EP.
Reunion and Suffer (1986–1988) 
Bad Religion slowly reformed in 1986 out of the Back to the Known line-up when Graffin called Bentley and asked him to return. Bentley's response was tentative, but after being assured that the setlist consisted mostly of tracks from How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, he agreed to return for one show, and ended up staying on because he had so much fun. A freshly rehabilitated Gurewitz was eventually convinced to come back aboard, and with Pete Finestone returning on drums and Greg Hetson on second guitar, Bad Religion was back.
The reunited band released their third album Suffer in 1988.
No Control, Against the Grain and Generator (1989–1992) 
During the Suffer tour in 1988, Bad Religion began writing "albums worth of material". In early 1989, while the band was on a brief break from their Suffer tour, they decided to commence work on their next album and entered the Westbeach Recorders studio in June of that year to record it. The resulting album, No Control, was released in November 1989, and ended up selling more than 60,000 copies. By the time it was released, the band had become one of the most critically praised hardcore punk bands of the time, despite a lack of mainstream success.
Bad Religion's hardcore punk style continued with their next album, Against the Grain, which was released in 1990. While the album still did not break the band into mainstream audiences, it was the first 100,000 seller, and showed how quickly they were growing. "21st Century (Digital Boy)", one of the tracks off the album, is generally regarded as the band's most well-known song, and has been played at almost every live show.
Drummer Pete Finestone left Bad Religion again in April 1991 to focus on his other band, The Fishermen, which had signed with a major label, and Bobby Schayer joined the band as his replacement. In May 1991, Bad Religion entered the Westbeach Recorders studio to begin recording material for their sixth studio album, Generator, which was not released until March 1992. The album was recorded almost live in the studio, because, at the time, Gurewitz had moved Westbeach to larger premises, and for the first time, the entire band could play in the studio at the same time. He stated that it was "time to change" and the band "did it in a different studio, but as far as the songwriting, it was a deliberate effort to try something different". To accompany the album, Bad Religion filmed their first music video "Atomic Garden", which was also their first song to be released as a single.
To coincide with the band's success, Bad Religion released a compilation album, 80–85, in 1991. It is a repackaging of their debut album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, their two EPs, Bad Religion and Back to the Known and the band's three track contributions to the Public Service EP. This compilation did not include Into the Unknown. 80–85 is now out of print and has been replaced by the 2004 re-issued version of How Could Hell Be Any Worse? with the same track listings.
Mainstream success and departure of Gurewitz (1993–1995) 
With alternative rock and grunge breaking into the mainstream, Bad Religion decided to leave Epitaph for Atlantic Records in 1993 and quickly re-released their seventh full-length studio album Recipe for Hate on the label that same year. Despite receiving mixed reviews from music critics, the album finally broke Bad Religion into mainstream audiences and got their highest U.S. chart position to date, debuting at No. 14 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, with "American Jesus" and "Struck a Nerve" in particular becoming major rock radio hits at their time. Also in 1993, the band recorded the song "Leaders and Followers" (which later appeared as a bonus track on the Japanese version of their next album) for the soundtrack for the Kevin Smith film, Clerks.
Recipe for Hate was followed up by Bad Religion's eighth studio album Stranger Than Fiction. The album met high critical reception upon its release in September 1994, and subsequently became their most successful album, scoring hits with "Infected" and a re-recording of "21st Century (Digital Boy)", which was originally released on Against the Grain. The album was Bad Religion's first to enter the Billboard 200; the release peaked at number 87, and was awarded gold certification on March 4, 1998, for sales of over half a million copies. Before the release of Stranger Than Fiction, Gurewitz left the band. He officially cited the reason for his departure as the increasing amount of time he was needed at Epitaph as The Offspring (who had just released Smash to unexpected success and acclaim) became one of the biggest bands of the mid-1990s, but it was well known that his departure was not on good terms. Gurewitz, along with many fans, accused the band of selling out for leaving Epitaph to seek greater financial success despite the fact that Gurewitz was making millions off The Offspring alone.
As tensions increased, Graffin would sing alternate lyrics during concerts such as "I want to know where Brett gets his crack" or "I want to know why Gurewitz cracked," on the song "Stranger Than Fiction". These barbs referred to Gurewitz's struggles with crack, heroin and other addictions which plagued him for years. Brett discussed his drug use in an interview on the band's Suffer Tour documentary, Along the Way, and is now clean and sober. In response, Gurewitz recorded a song with his new band The Daredevils entitled "Hate You", reportedly directed towards Jay Bentley.
Gurewitz was replaced as a guitarist by Brian Baker, a former member of bands such as Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, and Junkyard. Baker had declined a spot with R.E.M. to join Bad Religion. Since Greg Graffin and Gurewitz had split songwriting duties, Graffin was now Bad Religion's primary songwriter.
Post-Gurewitz period (1996–2000) 
Bad Religion continued touring and recording without Brett Gurewitz and released three more albums for Atlantic, starting with The Gray Race (1996), produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek. Despite never garnering the amount of attention that Stranger Than Fiction received, it would score Bad Religion a minor U.S. radio hit with the song "A Walk" as well as the European release of "Punk Rock Song" (sung in both English and German). The band would find its greatest success in Europe, where the album would reach the German music charts at No. 6 and score the band their first European gold record for sales in Scandinavia alone.Brian Baker (left) with Bad Religion, live in the Netherlands, 1995.
In 1998, Bad Religion released their tenth full-length album, No Substance, produced by Alex Perialas, Ronnie Kimball and the band themselves. Although the album was anticipated by both music critics and fans as a result of the band's previous worldwide successes with Stranger Than Fiction and The Gray Race, it was given mixed reviews by critics and fans. Following the release of No Substance, the band embarked on a year-long tour.
In 1999, Gurewitz reunited with Graffin to co-write a song together, called "Believe It", which would appear on their next album, The New America (2000). For it, Todd Rundgren, an early musical inspiration for Graffin, was brought in to produce. "Todd was kind of an underground sensation back in 1974. Here's a guy who was making pop music but in a way that you wouldn't hear on the radio. So much of my early musical identity was wrapped up in the way he conducted himself." In the summer of 2000, they set out on a 3-month U.S. arena tour opening for Blink-182. Unfortunately, the experience might not have been all that Greg and the rest of the band might have hoped. Interest in recording the record waned, due to Rundgren's poor attitude. Jay Bentley reflects on this by saying, "I didn't feel we were going anywhere and so did Greg. Todd didn't like Greg and that made Greg so mad! He met his idol and he was a jerk! I don't think Todd gave a shit about anything." However, Graffin later writes in his book, Anarchy Evolution, that although Todd Rundgren was difficult to work with, he and Graffin are friends to this day. Meanwhile, Bobby Schayer left the band following a serious shoulder injury and was replaced by Brooks Wackerman (Suicidal Tendencies).
Return to Epitaph and reunion with Gurewitz (2001–2004) 
In 2001, Bad Religion departed from Atlantic Records. They returned to Epitaph and Brett Gurewitz rejoined the band. The expanded six-piece line-up then recorded and released The Process of Belief (2002). Graffin states, "there was a little bit of disappointment on my part when he left the band, but we never had any serious acrimony between the two of us. I can't say the same for the rest of the band. But he and I, being the songwriters from way back, we really wanted to try again."
Their next album, The Empire Strikes First, was released in June 2004. Like The Process of Belief, it is widely regarded by fans as a return to the faster punk-style songwriting that some felt was less prominent in the band's music during their time on Atlantic.
In April 2004, the band also re-released digitally-remastered versions of all of their first six studio albums on Epitaph Records (except Into the Unknown). The How Could Hell Be Any Worse? re-issue, though reclaiming the original title of the band's debut LP, contained all of the same material as the previously issued 80–85 compilation, including their first EP, the Public Service EP (with different versions of the songs Bad Religion, Slaves, and Drastic Actions than the self-titled EP) and the "Back To The Known" EP. To coincide with the re-issues, they also released their long out-of-print live VHS Along the Way on DVD for the first time. Though Recipe for Hate was released on Epitaph, the album could not be re-issued; due to the fact that it was re-issued on Atlantic, problems with the rights ownership made a re-issue unlikely.
New Maps of Hell (2005–2008) 
On March 7, 2006, a live DVD, Live at the Palladium was released. This DVD featured a live show performed in late 2004 at the Hollywood Palladium, as well as extensive interviews, several music videos, and a photo gallery. During one of the interview segments, guitarist Brett Gurewitz said the band's next album would be a double-length release, but this turned out not to be the case.
Greg Graffin released his second solo album, Cold as the Clay, on July 11, 2006.
Bad Religion's fourteenth studio album, New Maps of Hell, was released on July 10, 2007. On June 29, of that year (Greg Hetson's 46th birthday), Epitaph Records started selling New Maps of Hell at the Warped Tour in Pomona, California. The album was a commercial success and spawned three hit singles "Honest Goodbye", "Heroes and Martyrs", and "New Dark Ages", and as a result, New Maps of Hell reached number 35 on the Billboard 200, marking Bad Religion's highest-ever chart position. Bad Religion also joined the 2007 Warped Tour to support the album.
Hetson formed a supergroup band called Black President, consisting of Charlie Paulson (from Goldfinger), Jason Christopher, Wade Youman (both from Unwritten Law) and Christian Martucci (from Dee Dee Ramone).
In early March 2008, Bad Religion played several night residences at House of Blues venues in Southern California as well as Las Vegas. They also played at the KROQ Weenie Roast (y Fiesta) on May 17 along such bands as Flobots, Metallica, The Offspring, Pennywise, Rise Against, and Scars on Broadway. Following that, they performed four European festival appearances in May and June.
On July 8, 2008, Bad Religion released their first-ever deluxe edition CD, a re-issue of then-current album New Maps of Hell. The deluxe version includes the original 16-song CD, along with seven new acoustic tracks recorded by Graffin (vocals) and Gurewitz (guitars/back vocals). Three of the acoustic songs are new, written specifically for this release; the other four tracks are new acoustic versions of BR songs. The release also includes a DVD with an hour-long live performance, music videos, and behind-the-scenes footage.
30 Years Live and The Dissent of Man (2009–2010) 
In June 2008, Jay Bentley said in an interview at the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, Netherlands that Gurewitz had already begun writing new material for the next Bad Religion album. Bentley stated that the band was planning to return to the studio after Graffin teaches UCLA to start work on the follow-up to New Maps of Hell planned for a June 2009 release. However, according to a December 2008 report on the fan site The Bad Religion Page, Bentley revealed that due to Bad Religion's upcoming touring commitments for 2009, the band would not have a chance to record their new album until around the end of the year, for an expected 2010 release date.
In August 2009, guitarist Brett Gurewitz sent an email to a fan site mentioning he was writing new material for the next Bad Religion album.
In December 2009, Bentley revealed to the fan site The Bad Religion Page that the band was expected to go into the studio on April 26, 2010, to start recording their new album. He stated that a few songs for the album had been written and "it feels like the songwriting is picking up momentum. Baker said he was going to drive up to Graffin's, Brooks and I are going to do some demos with Brett, so we have a pretty good jump." According to Brett's Twitter, Bad Religion is aiming for a fall release of the new album. In January 2010, Bentley revealed that Bad Religion would record their new album at a studio in Pasadena, California with Joe Barresi, who engineered 2004's The Empire Strikes First and produced its 2007 follow-up New Maps of Hell. Despite the statement made by Bentley about entering the studio in April, he noted that the recording date was now May 1. On April 6, 2010, Bentley revealed in an interview with KROQ's Kevin and Bean that the date on which the band would record their new album was May 6.
Bad Religion toured Southern California and Nevada House of Blues locations, in March & April. To commemorate their 30th anniversary, Bad Religion played a 30-day tour, playing a 30-song set each night. They also toured Europe from June to August, including an appearance at the Rebellion Festival in England. To coincide with the tour, Bad Religion announced a live album called 30 Years Live, which was released as a free download for those who had signed up on the mailing list at Bad Religion's website. It consists of songs recorded during their House of Blues tour during March and April 2010 which also includes some new songs from their 15th studio album, before the new album was released. 30 Years Live was mixed by Mike Fraser and was released on May 18, 2010. At the House of Blues concert in Anaheim, California on March 17, 2010, the band debuted a new song called "Resist-Stance", which will appear on their upcoming album and is included on 30 Years Live.
On May 1, 2010, Brett posted an update on his Twitter saying, "threw me a going away [to the studio] party and all my friends hung with me tonight – thx everybody, I love you guys." This adds fuel to the possibility of the band's new album being recorded the first week of May. According to a report on thebrpage.net, the band started recording on May 5, 2010. On May 12, 2010 (which happened to be Brett's 48th birthday), bassist Jay Bentley posted an update on their Facebook page regarding the recording process of the album: "first week of recording at joe's house of compression and brooks gets the medal for superasskicking. brian has finished 14 basics... a couple more to go. i started getting some good bass sounds late, late last night, the liver wins the shootout again. brett is playing late night tracks on his birthday, some way to celebrate! happy birthday bg! quote of the day; BG "what percentage of the sound is coming from the snakeskin?". haha... working of album titles and ideas today. it's all coming together. joe says the corn flavored kit kats are gross, but the wasabi ones are quite delicious.... get back to work. work work work. will send photo's soon".
In June 2010, The Bad Religion Page reported that the new album would be released on September 28, 2010. Jay (who goes by jabberwock on The Bad Religion Page) mentioned on the site's message board that Bad Religion had finished recording their new album and was mixing it. In an interview at the Azkena Rock Festival on June 26, 2010, the band members announced that the new album would be called The Dissent of Man. The Dissent of Man was released on September 28, 2010. The album debuted at No. 35 on the Billboard 200 chart and at No. 6 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart. On August 30, 2010, the album version of the song "The Resist Stance" was released on Bad Religion's MySpace page. A week before the album's release, it was made available for streaming on Bad Religion's MySpace page. The band has been touring to support the album through 2011.
On October 18, 2010, Bad Religion released a vinyl box set of all their albums that is limited to 3000 copies, including their 1983 album Into the Unknown, which had been out of print for over 25 years.
True North (2011–present) 
In an April 2011 interview with The Washington Examiner, guitarist Brian Baker was asked if Bad Religion was going to make another album after The Dissent of Man. His response was, "It's all very punk [attitude] just like it's always been. We will record when we have enough songs. For us, it just kind of happens." During the Boston show on April 29, 2011, frontman Greg Graffin said "after this year you probably won't be seeing much more of us. We're going to try one more album and then all join the navy, do honest work", hinting at a possible split or hiatus. In an interview at the KROQ Weenie Roast on June 4, 2011, Graffin stated that Bad Religion would record and release a new album in 2012. Bassist Jay Bentley also mentioned an early 2012 timeframe for going back into the studio in an interview at Live 105's BFD festival, which took place on the day after the Weenie Roast. In February 2012, it was reported that Brett had written two songs for the album.
According to a May 2012 interview with Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge, Brett is writing a "fast" Bad Religion album. He also said that Pennywise's new album All or Nothing inspired Brett to write a sequel to the band's 1989 album No Control.
On June 4, 2012, Jay Bentley confirmed on the Bad Religion fan site The Bad Religion page that they were expected to begin recording their new album in July and August. He also stated that Brett and Joe Barresi are going to produce it. On July 23, the band uploaded a picture to Bad Religion's Facebook page of all the members (except Greg Hetson, who was taking the picture) in the studio with the caption, "here we go again," indicating that work on their sixteenth studio album had begun. On August 22, Brett Gurewitz tweeted that they were mixing the album, and a month later, he tweeted that the band was finishing it. Greg Graffin later stated that the album was supposed to be out by Christmas. "Fuck You" was the album's lead single and released on iTunes on November 6, which happened to be Greg Graffin's 48th birthday.
On November 5, 2012 (Bad Religion Day), it was announced that Bad Religion's sixteenth studio album, True North, would be released on January 22, 2013. On that same day, they premiered the new single "Fuck You". True North has received mostly positive reviews, and managed to reach number 18 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, marking Bad Religion's first ever top-20 album and highest ever peak on that chart in their entire 34 year career.
Style and influences 
The band's major influences stemmed from late 1970s punk acts like The Ramones, The Germs, Sex Pistols and The Clash, along with such early 1980s American hardcore bands as Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Minor Threat. Unlike many other hardcore bands of the era, they also acknowledged proto-punk bands like the New York Dolls and MC5. Even more unusual for a band of the scene that spawned them, they were also informed by such new wavers as Elvis Costello, The Jam and Nick Lowe, as well as authors like Jack Kerouac. The Beatles were also a huge influence on Bad Religion. The band said The Beatles were about the only band everyone in Bad Religion really liked. Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz have been called the Lennon/McCartney of punk rock on several occasions.
Greg Graffin called his influences "pop-sounding rock tunes that were not necessarily commercial." Brett Gurewitz acknowledges attempting to emulate Germs singer Darby Crash early on in Bad Religion's lyrical style. "He wrote some intelligent stuff, and didn't shy away from the vocabulary, which I thought was cool." In addition to their use of unusually sophisticated vocabulary for a punk band, Bad Religion is also known for their frequent use of vocal harmonies. They took their cues from The Adolescents, in the way that they used three-part harmonies. Bassist Jay Bentley says, "Seeing The Adolescents live, it was so brilliant. So, in a way, the Adolescents influenced us into saying we can do it, too, because look, they're doing it."
In turn, many of today's punk bands cite Bad Religion as an influence, including AFI, All, Authority Zero, The Bouncing Souls, Death by Stereo, Lagwagon, NOFX, The Offspring, Pennywise, and Rise Against. Funeral for a Friend vocalist Matt Davies-Kreye has also stated Bad Religion as an influence, particularly with their Against The Grain album
Many of Bad Religion's songs are about different social ills, although they try not to ascribe the causes of these ills to any single person or group. Greg Graffin believes that the current political situation in the United States can make it difficult to voice these concerns, as he doesn't want to feed the polarization of viewpoints.
The band contributed a song to the Rock Against Bush series organized by Fat Mike's Punkvoter, a political activist group and website whose supporters are primarily left-liberal members of the punk subculture.
Brett Gurewitz attributed his anger towards former U.S. president George W. Bush as the major inspiration for The Empire Strikes First. "Our whole album is dedicated to getting Bush out of office. I'm not a presidential scholar but I don't think you'll find a worse president in the history of the United States. He's probably one of the worst leaders in the history of world leaders. I just hate the guy."
Bad Religion performed at L7's pro-choice benefit Rock for Choice at the Hollywood Palladium on April 30, 1993 with acts such as Stone Temple Pilots, White Zombie, Bikini Kill, King Missile and Kitty with Kim Gordon. Hetson wore a Rock for Choice t-shirt quite often when performing, one example was when the band was on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 1994 performing "21st Century (Digital Boy)". Bentley has also worn Rock for Choice t-shirts too, such as when they performed the Phoenix Festival in the UK in 1993. The band's song "Operation Rescue" (off 1990's record Against the Grain) is a pro-choice song (named after pro-life organization Operation Rescue).
Faith in your partner, your fellow men, your friends, is very important, because without it there's no mutual component to your relationship, and relationships are important. So, faith plays an important role, but faith in people you don't know, faith in religious or political leaders or even people on stages, people who are popular in the public eye, you shouldn't have faith in those people. You should listen to what they have to say and use it.
— Greg Graffin
Despite the name of the band, or the band's logo, the members do not consider themselves antitheist. Singer Greg Graffin states that more often than not, the band prefers to use religion as a metaphor for anything that does not allow for an individual's freedom to think or express themselves as they choose. In this way, their songs are more about anti-conformity than anti-religion. Contrary to popular belief, Greg Graffin does not identify himself as an atheist, but chooses to identify as a naturalist.
Wired Magazine came out with a big exposé of "the new atheists". I was interviewed for it—and yet I think I was included as a sidebar but not as a main feature and I think the main reason they did that was because they noticed that I wasn't that happy billing myself as an atheist. To me it just doesn't say that much; it doesn't say much about you. Instead I bill myself as a naturalist, which I think says a lot more. Because a naturalist is someone who... first of all—they study natural science, and they have a hopeful message—I think—to send to the world, which is... we can agree on what the truth is... and it has to be through experimentation, verification, and new discoveries, followed by more verification. So... if we can agree on those terms, we can agree that the truth changes, based on new discoveries, and the structure of science is such that you can never be so sure of something, because a new discovery can rework the framework—it can reconstruct the framework of your science and you have to look at the world differently. That makes it a very dynamic and exciting place to be. And if you say "you're an atheist", it's not really saying much about how you came to that conclusion. But if you say "you're a naturalist", I think it says something. You've reached that point because you've studied science, because you believe there's a fundamental way of looking at the world that is part of a long tradition. And so, I prefer naturalist.
— Greg Graffin
Despite this, he did co-author the book Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?, which is based on a series of lengthy debates about science and religion between Graffin and historian Preston Jones. In 2010, Graffin released Anarchy Evolution, in which he promotes his naturalist worldview.
The band's bassist Jay Bentley has stated that he has spiritual beliefs. Brett Gurewitz is a "provisional deist."
On March 24, 2012 Bad Religion headlined the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., sharing the stage with the likes of Eddie Izzard, Richard Dawkins, Tim Minchin and James Randi.
In the media and legacy 
Bad Religion appeared once on Late Show with David Letterman in 1994, twice on The Jon Stewart Show in 1994 and 1995, twice on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn in 2000 and 2002 and Late Night with Conan O'Brien five times in 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002, and 2007. In the early days, Bad Religion appeared twice on the New Wave Theatre in 1981 and 1982. They were considered a "classic" band on MTV's 120 Minutes, appearing a number of times live on the show. They also appeared on MTV's Most Wanted in 1995. Frontman Greg Graffin appeared three times on Politically Incorrect in 1994, 1996, and 2000. In 2010, the band was featured on NBC's Last Call with Carson Daly about their 30-year anniversary.
Bad Religion music has appeared in movies such as Clerks, The Chase, Glory Daze, The Hammer, Eyeborgs, Jetboy and Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator. Bad Religion's "Crossbuster" logo appears in Juno, SLC Punk!, 8mm and Helmiä ja sikoja. Posters for The Empire Strikes First appear in Superbad, Kids in America, Special, Fifty Pills, Strange Wilderness, Dishdogz and in an episode of Zoey 101. Other Bad Religion posters appear in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Sentimental Engine Slayer and PCU. Bad Religion can also be seen written on marquees in the films The Dictator and Rock of Ages. Bad Religion stickers appear in The Ring (which was directed by Gore Verbinski who directed Bad Religion music videos early in his career) and Cheaper by the Dozen.
On TV, Bad Religion's song "New America" appeared in the final episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 and "Portrait of Authority" was in an episode of Lizzie McGuire. In an episode of Las Vegas, Piper requests that she has Saturday off because Bad Religion are in town and she has "killer tickets". In an episode of The Gilmore Girls, Graffin's master in biology and his PhD in evolutionary biology are used as examples of how college and rock n' roll go together. A Bad Religion poster can be seen in a locker in an episode of Weird Science. A kid wearing a Bad Religion t-shirt gets shot in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
In video games, Bad Religion songs have made it into Crazy Taxi, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Tony Hawk Underground, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, Tony Hawk's Project 8, NCAA Football 2006, Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller, NHL 2K9 and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. A cover of "Infected" (from Stranger Than Fiction) appears in Guitar Hero and is downloadable for Guitar Hero 2. The song "21st Century (Digital Boy)" (from Against the Grain) is downloadable for Guitar Hero: World Tour. The songs "Sorrow" (from The Process of Belief), "21st Century (Digital Boy)" (from Against the Grain), New Dark Ages (from New Maps of Hell) and No Control (from No Control) appear as downloadable songs for both Rock Band,Rock Band 2 and Mx Vs Atv Untamed.
The Los Angeles modern rock radio station KROQ listed Bad Religion at No. 39 in the "top 106.7 biggest KROQ bands of all time" memorial for six years in a row, and No. 70 at the "Top 166 Artists of 1980–2008" list.
Alternative Press did a 100 Best Singles of the Decade list in 2009. It was a list for the 2000s (decade). "Los Angeles Is Burning" came in at number 90 and "Sorrow" came in at number 56.
Bad Religion's songs have been covered by many notable bands and musicians, including Sublime, Parkway Drive, Tegan & Sara, Switchfoot, Simple Plan, Frank Turner, and Streetlight Manifesto.
Bad Religion's logo has been referred to by fans as the "Crossbuster". It features a black cross with a red prohibition sign over it. It was created by guitarist Brett Gurewitz by drawing it on a piece of paper and showing it to the rest of the band. They supposedly thought it would be a good way to annoy their parents.
In the live documentary Along the Way, frontman Greg Graffin claimed to regret choosing that as their symbol because it may have put off a lot of religious people who he feels could benefit from listening to Bad Religion. When bassist Jay Bentley was asked about it in the same documentary, he claimed it was a symbol meant to "piss off our parents" and that it was "something easy to put on t-shirts and for kids to spray paint on walls"; when people ask him what it means, he says, "whatever you think it means". Guitarist Greg Hetson claims in the documentary that it stands for anti-establishment.
Brian Baker, who joined the band later in their career, sums it up as follows:
“The name Bad Religion and the crossbuster logo came to pass in the minds of two fifteen-year-olds who were trying to find the most offensive name and image they could possibly find for the punk band they were starting in their garage… These are not people who thought that 21 years later they would be on the telephone doing interviews.”
A lot of Bad Religion merchandise including hats, belt buckles, t-shirts, and hoodies contain the Crossbuster. The logo was also used on the covers for their early EPs, 1981's self-titled and 1985's Back to the Known, and the disc for New Maps of Hell. It can also be found on other Bad Religion albums including Suffer (on the back of the boy on fire's t-shirt), No Substance (on Kristen Johnston's right breast, behind one of the actors playing a TV host and on a woman's fingernails), The Process of Belief (inside the booklet there is a small one mixed with all the other symbols) and on 30 Years Live (replacing the zero in 30).