What Are Paul McCartney’s Views on Religion & Mysticism?

Through song, John Lennon attacked Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. George Harrison’s music made it clear he was a devout Hindu. Paul McCartney, on the other hand, did not make his religious beliefs (or lack thereof) a major part of his art. This raises the question: What are the former Beatles’ religious views?

Paul McCartney | Frank Tewkesbury/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The religious themes of ‘Eleanor Rigby’

If you listen to one of the Beatles’ most famous compositions, “Eleanor Rigby,” you’ll notice there’s some passing references to Christianity. One of the verses mentions a priest named Father McKenzie who delivers a sermon no one hears. In the song, Paul sings “No one was saved.”

The song could be interpreted as a lament over the lack of religiosity in contemporary Britain. At the very least, the song’s melancholy music makes Father McKenzie, the ineffectual priest, seem like a tragic and sympathetic character. However, Paul doesn’t have many nice things to say about religion.

When the Beatles all had the same religious views

Paul McCartney and the other Beatles on Top Of The Pops | Chris Walter

Paul expressed agnosticism during his days with the Fab Four. Michael R. Frontani’s The Beatles: Image and the Media records an interview with the Beatles from the February 1965 issue of Playboy:

McCartney: “We probably seem antireligious because of the fact that none of us believe in God.”

Lennon: “If you say you don’t believe in God, everybody assumes you’re antireligious, and you probably think that’s what we mean by that. We’re not quite sure ‘what’ we are, but I know that we’re more agnostic than atheistic.”

Playboy: “Are you speaking for the group, or just for yourself?”

Lennon: “For the group.”

Harrison: “John’s our official religious spokesman.”

McCartney: “We all feel roughly the same. We’re all agnostics.”

Lennon: “Most people are, anyway.”

McCartney: “In America, they’re fanatical about God. I know somebody over there who said he was an atheist. The papers nearly refused to print it because it was such shocking news that somebody could actually be an atheist … yeah … and admit it.”

Starr: “He speaks for all of us.”

What are Paul McCartney’s religious views today?

Paul McCartney with host Jimmy Fallon in 2013 | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Does Paul hold true to these views? Paul discussed religion again in 2012. When The Independent asked him whether religion matters to him or not, Paul replied “Not really. I have a kind of personal faith in something good, but it doesn’t really go much further than that. It’s certainly not subscribing to any organised religion.”

Psul added  “I think that [organized religion] is the cause of a lot of trouble – ‘My god is better than yours’. But I do think there is something greater than me… and that’s not easy to imagine. No, stop it, come on.”

The former Beatles does believe Jesus existed historically. “Jesus I could see, that’s a historical character. I was always really amused by the fact that he was Jewish. I loved that because I thought, ‘that will stick it to all these anti-Semitic people’.”

Also see: Beatles: Why You Never Got to Hear Their Lost Song ‘Carnival of Light’