Monday, October 7, 2013

9 Days Of Lennon: Day 6 "Bigger Than Jesus"

"How Does a Beatle Live? John Lennon Lives Like This" 

On March 4, 1966 London Evening Standard newspaper printed an interview with John Lennon written by Maureen Cleave, a good friend of The Beatles. The article describes The Beatles and their fame with meeting the Queen of England, Beatlemania, their relationships with each other and wives, and little things like that. A section of the paper is as followed;
"Experience has sown few seeds of doubt in him: not that his mind is closed, but it's closed round whatever he believes at the time. 'Christianity will go,' he said. 'It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.' He is reading extensively about religion."
 Four months after the article was printed in England it had reached the United States when it was printed in Datebook Magazine on July 29,1966. Responses were horrid and Alabama disc jockeys, Doug Layton and Tommy Charles of WAQY had the idea of "Beatles boycott" and for everyone to gather their Beatles and Lennon merchandise and burn them. This started The Beatles burnings, the first burning took place on August 1, 1966.

The Beatles suffered from his comments with the burning, radios not playing their music, even death threats. While playing in Memphis a fire cracker was thrown on stage and exploded, the group  turned in concern to look at each other to see who was shot. Although their was much hate towards The Beatles at this time they had found an uncommon supporter, Rt. Rev. Kenneth Maguire who said,
"I wouldn't be surprised if The Beatles actually were more popular than Jesus. In the only popularity poll in Jesus's time, he came out second best to Barabbas."
Five days later on August 6 John Lennon and manager Brian Epstein apologized during a press conference, Brian stating,
“The quote which John Lennon made to a London columnist nearly three months ago has been quoted and misrepresented entirely out of context... Lennon didn't mean to boast about the Beatles' fame. He meant to point out that The Beatles' effect appeared to be a more immediate one upon, certainly, the younger generation. John is deeply concerned and regrets that people with certain religious beliefs should have been offended in any way what soever" 
John went on to say,
"I'm not anti-Christ or anti-religious or anti-God. I'm not saying we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person, or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and was wrong, or was taken wrong, and now it's all this." He continued, "If I'd have said television is more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it. In reference to England, we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion at the time. I wasn't knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it's true for England than here."
Despite all that happened, The Beatles recovered and had gone on for four more years as a beloved group and onto their solo careers. In 2008 the Vatican had publicly announced that they forgive John Lennon's remarks stating that it was just a "boast" of a young man grappling with sudden fame.

John: "If I had said television is more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it, but I just happened to be talking to a friend and I used the words "Beatles" as a remote thing, not as what I think - as Beatles, as those other Beatles like other people see us. I just said "they" are having more influence on kids and things than anything else, including Jesus. But I said it in that way which is the wrong way."

Reporter: "Some teenagers have repeated your statements - "I like the Beatles more than Jesus Christ." What do you think about that?"
John: "Well, originally I pointed out that fact in reference to England. That we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion at that time. I wasn't knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it's true more for England than here. I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this."
Reporter: "But are you prepared to apologize?"
John (thinking that he had just apologized, because he did): "I wasn't saying whatever they're saying I was saying. I'm sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologize if that will make you happy. I still don't know quite what I've done. I've tried to tell you what I did do but if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I'm sorry." 

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