Fans who have already picked up Brad Paisley's new album 'Wheelhouse' may have gotten a little bit more than they bargained for. The country superstar has departed from his winning formula fairly dramatically, courting controversy with a couple of tracks on the new album, 'Accidental Racist' and 'Those Crazy Christians.'

'Accidental Racist' tackles the thorny issue of America's uneasy race relations, and the controversy that has surrounded it has so far overshadowed 'Those Crazy Christians,' which takes on religion. The lyrics are written from the point of view of a non-believer, but Paisley himself was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition and still attends church.

“I wrote it shortly after my cousin-in-law passed away in 2011,” Paisley tells Parade magazine. “He was young, and he fought against a debilitating disease. There weren't five minutes of intensive care that there weren't at least two church members at the hospital, around the clock, and I remember thinking, what makes people take shifts for somebody they haven’t known very long? Well, it’s belief."

But the song casts a skeptical eye at that belief with lyrics like, “A famous TV preacher has a big affair and then / One tearful confession and he’s born again,” and “Every untimely passing, every dear departed soul / Is just another good excuse to bake a casserole.”

Paisley says he considers 'Those Crazy Christians' a sort of contemporary gospel song. “To play the part of the skeptic in that song is a much more powerful argument to me -- in favor of [belief] as well as looking at some of the things that are baffling," he states. "My most devout friends love it and so do my agnostic ones, but for very different reasons. I [chose] the title because I remember thinking, ‘Those crazy Christians. Look at them go. Look at them swoop in to save the day.’”

Despite the edgier nature of some of his new material and the conservative nature of country music, Paisley says he's not worried about the reaction his fans will have. “Maybe I’m naive, but I give them a lot of credit for having been with me a long time and knowing me really well," he observes.

"So it’s not like with one album I’m a whole new guy. I’ve had a great career, and if I don’t have one after this," he adds with a laugh, "then so be it.”