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

John Lennon Did Not Imagine That "All Religion Is True" January 1, 2012

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.

Your Thoughts?

If you enjoy reading my philosophical blog posts, consider taking one of my online philosophy classes! I earned my PhD and taught 93 university classes before I went into business for myself. My online classes involve live, interactive class discussions with me and your fellow students held over videoconference (using Google Hangout, which downloads in just seconds). Classes involve personalized attention to your own ideas and questions. Course content winds up tailored to your interests as lively and rigorous class discussions determine where exactly we go. Classes are flexible enough to meet the needs of both beginners and students with existing philosophical background

My classes require no outside reading or homework or grades–only a once weekly 2.5 hour commitment that fits the schedules of busy people. My classes are university quality but I can offer no university credit whatsoever. New classes start up every month and you can join existing groups of students if you want. Click on the classes that interest you below and find the course descriptions, up-to-date schedules, and self-registration. 1-on-1 classes can be arranged by appointment if you write me at


"Demonization, in the name of a purity of ideals, is just another way of rationalizing ..."

I Stand With Liberalism Against The ..."
"Agreed 100%, these types are so far left of liberalism yet still have the temerity ..."

I Stand With Liberalism Against The ..."
"Nods--I know my daughter is using it that way. I think women are doing men ..."

I Stand With Liberalism Against The ..."
"You are most probably right.An interesting discussion on late nigh Woman's Hour BBC R4 last ..."

I Stand With Liberalism Against The ..."

Browse Our Archives