John Lennon Did Not Imagine That "All Religion Is True"

So Cee-lo Green sings “Imagine” before the ball drop and, as has been done before, the lyrics are appallingly sanitized, changing “no religion too” to “all religion is true”. It’s sheer cowardly pandering bullshit. If you can’t respect the ideas of the song then just don’t sing the song. Leave it alone. Don’t twist it to say the very antithesis of what it was meant to say. I don’t even particularly like the song very much. But don’t take something deliberately provocative and counter-cultural and neuter it as an expression of inoffensive, bland conformity. Don’t take his dream of the end of religion and swap it out with a dream that all religions be equally accepted as true and good and pretend those are remotely the same things. They’re antithetical ideas.

And so to censor John Lennon’s rejection of religion—while not censoring his rejection of nation states and not even censoring his rejection of private property, which is something far more integral to stability and prosperity of the modern world—again exempts religion from equal criticism on no legitimate grounds. Yeah, maybe the new version still offends fundamentalists since it declares “all religion is true” and that’s not exclusivist enough for them. And, yeah, would rather see “true religions” than worry specifically about having no religions. But neither of those were Lennon’s dream solution to the plague of pointless religious conflict that has unnecessarily divided human beings for centuries. And that should be respected. The dissenting voice should be respected. Not those institutions and individuals who are intolerant of all dissent from their baseless dogmas.

Maybe next year on New Year’s Cee-Lo will read us passages from Christopher Hitchens’s book God Is Great: How Religion Fixes Everythingor Richard Dawkins’s The God Solution.


James Sweet has a great set of lyrics suggestions for Cee-Lo if he ever wants to just go whole hog and turn Lennon completely from a radical to a mainstream liberal.

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