George Harrison’s Thoughts on Religion and the Vietnam War in 1966: ‘I Think Religion Falls Flat on Its Face’

Article Highlights:

  • George Harrison’s thoughts on the Vietnam War
  • The Beatle’s thoughts on religion
  • More on his disapproval of authority
A close-up of George Harrison in 1966. He's wearing round sunglasses and a yellow collared shirt.
George Harrison, 1966 | Wolfgang Kuhn/United Archives via Getty Images

George Harrison was not a fan of authority. In an interview with the Evening Standard in 1966, the Beatle shared his thoughts on such subjects as the war in Vietnam and religion. There was a common thread in the topics he spoke to: the people in power don’t practice what they preach.

What George Harrison thought about the war in Vietnam

Harrison told writer Maureen Cleave that he thought about the war in Vietnam every day and he thought it was wrong.

“Anything to do with war is wrong,” he said, as recorded in the book George Harrison on George Harrison. “They’re all wrapped up in their Nelsons and their Churchills and their Montys—always talking about war heroes. Look at [the Granada Television series on World War II] All Our Yesterdays. How we killed a few more Huns here or there. Makes me sick. They’re the sort who are leaning on the walking sticks and telling us a few years in the Army would do us good.”

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Harrison’s frustration could be seen at a local level as well. Cleave wrote that Harrison believed his personal taxes were “going directly to pay for F111’s.” He noted that Mr. Wilson, the Prime Minister of England, had a habit of “taking all the money and then moaning about deficits here, deficits there—always moaning about deficits.”

George Harrison’s thoughts on religion

Harrison was born into the Catholic faith. But as he grew up, he formed his own opinions about religion.

“And to go on to religion, I think religion falls flat on its face,” he said. “All this love thy neighbor, but none of them are doing it. How can anybody get themselves into the position of being Pope and accept all the glory and the money and the Mercedes-Benz and that? I could never be Pope until I’d sold my rich gates and my posh hat. I couldn’t sit there with all that money on me and believe I was religious.”

Hypocrisy, in general, frustrated Harrison greatly.

“That’s something I want you to get down in my article,” he said. “Why can’t we bring all this out in the open? Why is there all this stuff about blasphemy? If Christianity’s as good as they say it is, it should stand up to a bit of discussion.”

The Beatle’s disapproval of authority

Harrison referred to authority figures as “Big Cheeses” and “King Henrys,” and he was wary of all of them. He believed these authority figures, and the reality they’d created, were ruining children.

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“Babies when they are born, are pure,” he said. “Gradually they get more impure with all the rubbish being pumped into them by society and television and that; till gradually they’re dying off, full of everything.”

He was even skeptical of teachers.

“Take teachers,” he said. “In every class when I was at school there was always a little kid who was scruffy and smelly; and the punishment was always to sit next to the smelly kid. Fancy a teacher doing that.”