Friday, March 16, 2007

Was John Lennon an Atheist?

Today I watched a DVD I've been meaning to check out for quite some time, U.S. v. John Lennon. What a brilliant movie about a brilliant man. It left me wondering why there are no John Lennon types today, considering the parallels between the Nixon and Bush administrations. The best radical entertainers my generation has are the Dixie Chicks and Kanye West. As Gore Vidal said, "John Lennon equals love, and Nixon and Bush equal death", so where is today's Lennon to combat Nixon's Bush? Vidal at his best, eh? On the flip side, Gordon Liddy was at his worst, which in his mind would mean his best.

Anyway, I've always wondered whether or not John Lennon was an atheist. An hour of internet searching did little to answer my question. Opinions about him are strong on both sides, and I didn't find any interviews that definitively answer the question.

If we look to a primary source, his songs, it seems John Lennon was an atheist. Take a look at the lyrics to God and Imagine.

God is a concept,
By which we can measure,

Our pain
, I'll say it again,
God is a concept,

By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I don't believe in magic,
I don't believe in I-ching,

I don't believe in bible,

I don't believe in tarot,
I don't believe in Hitler,
I don't believe in Jesus,

I don't believe in Kennedy,

don't believe in Buddha,
I don't believe in mantra,

I don't believe in Gita,
I don't believe in yoga,
I don't believe in kings,
I don't believe in Elvis,
I don't believe in Zimmerman,

I don't believe in Beatles,

I just believe in me.

Imagine is not quite as definitive, as it points to religion rather than god. However, I think the key line is "brotherhood of man."

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace
ou may say that I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

If anybody has any comments, opinions, or a definitive answer, please leave a comment or e-mail me at


Tushar said...

John was inclined very much towards Krishna Consciousness just like his mate George Harrison. George Harrison was a follower of Krishna Consciousness and even donated his mansion to Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada which till today is known as Bhaktivedanta Manor in UK.
Here are couple of links to refer.

Anonymous said...

He was briefly inclined towards Krishna and Christianity, but neither lasted. This quote from a Wikipedia article on "I Am the Walrus":

Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to "Elementary penguin" is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, "Hare Krishna", or putting all your faith in any one idol.

bornagainathiest said...

Of course Lennon was atheist, its obvious from his lyrics in Imagine, one can't write and sing those lyrics without the understanding that religion is a huge pile of steaming crap. In several interviews he stated as much, revealing his progress to a rational understanding of the earth and the people on it.

Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

jdk1990 said...

If you read/listen to Imagine, he says "imagine there's no heaven" which made me think he didnt believe in it nor did he believe in God. I noticed later that the other things that he was imagining the world without were in existence: countries, religion, possessions, greed and hunger. That lead me to think that he does believe in heaven (God), but wishes the belief in God (along with the other things he mentions) didn't separate us.

Unknown said...

some years ago i had a friend that own everything by the beatles even the interviews done to every beatle, in the song imagine he was just saying imagine if it was like that, in the song god he said that we are suppose to believe in ourselves but he did believe in a supreme being

jp said...

Even if john lennon proclaimed to the world through his music a belief in a world of peace he himself would be proclaiming the message of the Gospel! God is mercy! Jesus taught peace. An atheist cannot proclaim this message because their innate desire to spread godlessness battles a war with all believers! Where Christians and many other religions base believe in a God of peace! Even if it includes peace with the unbelievers. Only our God judges not man. Peace is derived in the soul and an atheist does not believe in a soul. Therefore his desire for peace among man if from God.

Michelle said...

Taking issue with organized religion does not make one an Atheist. Later in life he implied a belief in God, the "constant" in his belief was a dislike for organised religions - he felt that religions shut out each others beliefs.

Again, with Imagine..I think people misinterpret the lyric...I think it's more about organized religion and how it divides people rather than there being no God.

Anonymous said...

Spiritual connection is root of all healing,,If u find no heaven on earth, look deeper into your heart
www.bellofpeace gede prama org

Anonymous said...

Spiritual connection is root of all healing,,If u find no heaven on earth, look deeper into your heart
www.bellofpeace gede prama org