How the Beatles Compare and Contrast Politics and Religion

Topics: The Beatles, John Lennon, George Harrison Pages: 8 (2761 words) Published: December 6, 2010
How the Beatles Compare and Contrast Politics and Religion


Britain was a Christian country (Church of England) before the 1960s.After the Second World War, church membership grew and there was also an economic boom and in the process fuelled consumerism. The Beatles “were beneficiaries of new attitudes toward money and leisure. The emphasis moved from thrift, duty, and service to consumerism” (Turner 2006:13). The Beatles were one of the most influential pop groups of the 1960s and had considerable influence on the youth.

Apart from their musical success, The Beatles were actively involved in Politics and Religion “There’d never been anything like the Beatles who were about music but also about something more far-reaching” (McCartney, 2004 in Turner, 2006: 1). Notably, John Lennon was more involved with Politics than the other members of the group; likewise George Harrison was profusely more involved with religion. This essay seeks to explore the impact they had in the politics and religion of Britain in the 1960s. Although, their views on religion and politics changed time and time again, over the period of their career. Allison (2006) states in his book ‘The Love There That’s Sleeping’where he talks about Lennon “What he thought at one time is no indicator of what he thought at another. His political views, for example, were scarcely consistent” (Allison 2006:53)

The Beatles began their musical career composing and singing songs about love which were more appealing to the youth at the time. “The Beatles had not started out with the thought of imparting messages to a generation. In the early days their lyric writing and grasp of social issues were the least developed of their capabilities” (Turner 2006:3). However, 1966 onwards they made more lyrics with an intellectual charge and a rebel stance questioning themselves, the world around them and the world to come.

According to Turner (2006) “If the Beatles had a gospel, it presupposes that they believed that something was wrong with the world” (Turner 2006:8). The Beatles right from an early stage opposed the system, for example they did not do very well at school, even though they had the opportunity to do so. As Turner (2006) notes, that The Beatles took it upon themselves to explore the world “The Beatles, It seemed, went through things on behalf of their followers and then sent back their findings. They travelled the world , smoked pot ,took acid ,snorted cocaine ,lived to excess ,became addicted ,consulted psychics, spent millions, meditated, and then wrote their reports up in the form of songs” (Turner 2006:7). They conveyed these messages very well and their fans conferred with their ideas most of the time. However, most of these social messages more often than not opposed the government and the church; this most certainly affected these institutions for example the support given by The Beatles to different organizations or ideas the government were against include; the IRA, Vietnam war “Millions of young people smoked pot, dropped acid, investigated Eastern religions, and marched for peace in Vietnam as a result of things the Beatles did or said” (Turner 2006:9).

Another example given by Turner (2006) which proves this and further to discloses  that the Beatles also gave financial support to causes they believed in “Interest in Transcendental Meditation, for example, received a tremendous boost from their corporate endorsement , and the proliferation of shaved-headed men and long-haired women singing the Hare Krishna mantra on the main streets of every major city as a direct result of the financial and moral backing their organization received from the Beatles” (Turner 2006:12). The Krishna mantra aspired to convert the West, thereby targeting John Lennon and George Harrison as disciples, again this goes to show how influential the Beatles were.

 “There are a lot of people who like us and they are influenced by us. So you know, in a small way...

Bibliography: Addison, P. and Jones, H. (2007), A Companion To Contemporary Britain 1939- 2000, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing
Allison, D.C. (2006), The Love There That’s Sleeping: The Art and Spirituality of George Harrison, New York, London: Continuum
Evans, Mike. (2004), The Beatles Literary Anthology, Plexus, London
Lennon, John (1997), In His Own Write & A Spaniard In The Works, Pimlico
MacDonald, Ian. (2008), Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records And The Sixties, Vintage
The Beatles. (2000), The Beatles: Anthology, Apple Corps Ltd
Thompson, E. and Gutman, D. (2004), The Lennon Companion, Da Capo Press
Turner, S. (2006), The Gospel Truth According To The Beatles, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press
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