Friday, 13 April 2012

The Religious Affiliation of Van Morrison


Van Morrison is a contrarian in most things and religion is no different.  He's dabbled here and there so much that it's hard to make firm statements about what he believes religion-wise.  However, the most authoritative source is the man himself.  The last statement I heard him utter was on the Don Imus show (the video footage can be seen on the Van Morrison News blog) where he confirms that he's an atheist.  For Christians this is a pretty definitive answer.  Christians believe that what we say about our religious beliefs is pretty important.  In mainstream Christianity it's not okay just to be a Christian.  One must confess 'with our lips' our faith.  In the Bible Jesus says if you confess  me before men I will confess you before my father in heaven.  Van has enough knowledge of Christianity to know the implications of what he was saying when he said there was no God.   

Some of the following information comes from the Religious Affiliation of the 100 Greatest Rock Stars site.  It's a fascinating little site.  There's a basic list showing each artist's affiliation. To find further details simply click on the artist's name. Van Morrison was born into the Church of Ireland, which is part of the Anglican Communion. Members of the Church of Ireland are considered Anglicans (or Episcopalians by Americans) and are often called either "Irish Anglicans" or "Protestants."

At one time Van Morrison was briefly a Scientologist or at least, paid for some of the various courses they offer, but he later distanced himself from that denomination.  The Inarticulate Speech of the Heart album from 1983 has "special thanks: L.Ron Hubbard" the "founder" of Scientology on the cover.  (Scientology holds the distinction as the only religion launched in a pulp science-fiction magazine.  Hubbard was also very interested in the tax benefits of starting your own religion immediately before founding Scientology. The religion contains some pretty bizarre beliefs involving aliens which you should check out.)  
In Clinton Heylin's notorious Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison a New Biography there's a section about the Scientology phase. 

According to an 'auditor' with whom Steve Turner spoke, Morrison only ever 'finished what we call fourth grade, which is about three-quarters of the way to being clear'.

Heylin also records that Van told a friend that he had "made a substantial financial commitment by the time he decided enough was enough". (p. 375)

Van Morrison's mother was a Jehovah's Witness which is considered to be 'outside Christianity' despite its quasi-Christian beliefs. In an interview Van was asked if his family were Jehovah's Witnesses?  He replied, "Not really. My mother was in it for a while, a brief encounter, that was all".
He was asked if he was taken door-to-door as a child with the Witnesses?  He replied that he wasn't but that he was taken to a couple of meetings. He reportedly found them "quite pleasant, but that was all".  This was probably the inspiration for his song "Kingdom Hall" from the Wavelength album.  
In another interview he was asked if he was raised a Jehovah's Witness. He said, "No, no, no. I wasn't raised anything. My mother went to some meetings at some point. She took me to some meetings. She didn't call herself that. It was only for a couple years' period. My father was an atheist. My mother was what you would describe as a freethinker. She would check things out and read about things, but she never joined anything".
This background certainly explains Van the religious/philosophical dabbler.  He checked out a wide range of New Age beliefs before eventually settling on evangelical Christianity.  Steve Turner, a Christian himself, writes about this on several occasions. That lasted a few years but it seems now that he doesn't believe in  the existence of God.  Some of his songs like "No Religion" and "Precious Time" probably indicate his atheism.

6 comments:

  1. However ... faith is different from religion isn't it? Religion is rules, systems, ritual, orthodoxy, enforcement, compliance, dogma, categorising, demarcation, inclusion / exclusion, fear of the outsider. Jesus of Nazareth was not a religious man and seems to have made no effort to start a religion. So as a follower of Jesus I am entirely happy with no religion and I guess Van is too.

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    1. 18"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." Matthew 18:19. Jesus of Nazareth started a religion, and He said it clear and precise. He created structure of 12 apostles, and gave a main role to Peter, first pope. He gave them many orders and advices. If you don´t like catholic religion, it is your choice and right, but do not say it is a man made creation, because God Himself started it. And by the way, he announced that it will be imperfect, by saying "and the gates of Hades will not overpower it", because it is made out of people who are weak and there will be falls, but because it is also made of God, it will not be overpowered. Faith without religion in an inteligent mind is a way of swelled head, arrogance that refuses humility. In that world, man can live by his own rules and beliefs, by his own religion. As many people claime there is God but no religion, there is as many religions.

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  2. I often think the "Way" Jesus described is different to what's practiced as "Christianity". The middle-class, financial prosperity focused churches seem so far from what Jesus teaches. However, I want to go to heaven. I'm old enough to begin to taste and smell heaven and I want to go there when I die. I reject all beliefs that are without hope. Besides all that, I want to live from now until the grave in the service of Jesus Christ.

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  3. The description fits what little evidence I have.........which is his music.

    His journey, as it were, also amply illustrates our loving Father's gift of freedom to his children. We are free to explore, free to choose. Van Morrison's choice may be the wrong one, but in the end, it is his life choice. After that, to paraphrase Jesus, comes the judgement of his choice.

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  4. Brilliant Anonymous. I hope you aren't from that hacker group and anonymous is just a name you've chosen! I want hear more.

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  5. Your "Religion" is defined by ones actions, not where they go to Church!

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