More popular than Jesus

"More popular than Jesus" the specific words used were "more popular than Jesus".}} is part of a remark made by the Beatles' John Lennon in a March 1966 article for the London newspaper the ''Evening Standard''. In the article, Lennon argued that the public was more infatuated with the Beatles than with Jesus, and that faith in Christianity was declining to the extent that it might be outlasted by rock music. His opinions drew no controversy when originally published in the United Kingdom, but when they were republished in the United States that July, angry reactions flared up in Christian communities.

Extensive protests broke out in the US, particularly throughout the Bible Belt. Some radio stations stopped playing Beatles songs, their records were publicly burned, press conferences were cancelled, and threats were made. The controversy coincided with the Beatles' 1966 US tour, and Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein attempted to quell the dispute at a series of press conferences. Some tour events saw disruption, including a picketing by the Ku Klux Klan. Press coverage of the Beatles' just-released album ''Revolver'' was also overshadowed by the controversy.

Shortly after the controversy broke, Lennon apologised, saying "if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it". He explained that he was remarking on how other people viewed and popularised the band. The events contributed to the Beatles' lack of interest in public live performances, and the US tour was the last they undertook, after which they became a studio-only band.

In 1969, the Beatles released "The Ballad of John and Yoko", a non-album single in which Lennon sings the line "The way things are going, They're gonna crucify me." Lennon's solo career included further references to religion in his songs "God" (1970) and "Imagine" (1971). In 1980, he was murdered by Mark David Chapman, a born-again Christian who was incensed by the "more popular than Jesus" remark.
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