Lennon’s voice from the grave? Tune in to BBC Radio

July 13th, 2008 - 1:24 pm ICT by IANS  

By Venkata Vemuri
London, July 13 (IANS) John Lennon once claimed the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Dead for 28 years, he now says he hoped to encourage people to pursue the Christian faith. Are the dead talking? No, it is a rare 1969 interview of Lennon on Christianity that BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting for the first time Sunday on its Sunday programme.

The interview conducted by Ken Seymour of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp when Lennon and Yoko Ono were at the Bed-In for Peace protest in Montreal. It was bought three years ago by National Museums Liverpool, which is playing an extract at a new exhibition at World Museum Liverpool, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

In the interview, Lennon talks about the Church of England, his vision of heaven, and expresses disappointment at not being allowed to marry his second wife Ono in church.

The hippy icon, who once predicted that Christianity would “vanish and shrink”, can now be hard saying he was one of “Christ’s biggest fans”. This was published by the Evening Standard at that time much to the dismay of Christians.

Now Lennon says he was misunderstood: “It’s just an expression meaning the Beatles seem to me to have more influence over youth than Christ. Now I wasn’t saying that was a good idea, ‘cos I’m one of Christ’s biggest fans.”

Pursuing the subject, he feels Beatles could have taken up the cause of Christianity.

“If the Beatles get on the side of Christ, which they always were, and let people know that, then maybe the churches won’t be full, but there’ll be a lot of Christians dancing in the dance halls. Whatever they celebrate, God and Christ, I don’t think it matters as long as they’re aware of Him and His message.”

His aversion to institutional religion was shaped when a vicar banned him from a church when he was 14 because he and his friends were “having the giggles”.

“I wasn’t convinced of the vicar’s sincerity any way. But I knew it was the house of god. So I went along for that, and the atmosphere always made me feel emotional and religious or whatever you call it.”

It happened again, when he married Yoko Ono.

“I would have liked to have been married in a church but they wouldn’t marry divorcees… That’s pure hypocrisy.” The Church’s position on the issue changed in 2002.

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