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Political, Religious and Social Factors of John Lennon’s Assassination

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There were many various factors that influenced John Lennon’s assassination, including numerous political, religious and social factors. These included his strong political views on the Vietnam War and the peace movement, his controversial comments surrounding Christianity, and his fame, fortune and hypocrisy. Throughout his life, John Lennon, did and said a number of controversial things that ultimately led to his assassination on December 8th 1980 outside his Manhattan apartment, the Dakota.

Political factors greatly contributed to the assassination of John Lennon. Lennon endorsed many progressive and radical political causes. Lennon particularly advocated for the American anti-war movement and was against U.S involvement in the Vietnam war. Lennon used his music as a way to express his political views. He released many songs dedicated to world peace, including the 1969 song “Give Peace a Chance”. In 1961, Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono staged a week in bed in Amsterdam, followed by another week in Montreal, which was heavily media covered, to protest the human suffering in global conflict. During April 1969 Lennon and Ono sent acorns to heads of state around the world hoping that they would plant them as a symbol of peace, Lennon was the subject of FBI surveillance for his engagement in the anti-war movement and left-wing politics and the Immigration and Naturalisation Service attempted to deport him. In an interview that sparked interest of the U.S government Lennon remarked “But you can’t take power without a struggle.’  Lennon also began to express his concerns regarding the treatment and oppression of people of colour and feminism. In 1972, Lennon released the controversial track “Woman is the Ni**ger of the World) which was banned by most radio stations. The song addressed men and asks them to recognise the patriarchal oppression of women. ‘We can’t have a revolution that doesn’t involve and liberate women.’ (Red Mole, 1971). These outspoken political views caused many people form conspiracy theories that the FBI was responsible for John Lennon’s death. Lennon’s outspoken political views and opinions influenced his assassination.

John Lennon’s religious views and ideas were an influencing factor in his assassination. In particular John Lennon stated during a 1966 interview that “’Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. This comment caused outrage in the U.S when it was reprinted by U.S teen magazine Datebook and caused many former fans to boycott The Beatles and John Lennon, burning records and paraphernalia. Several radio stations stopped playing Beatles music and DJs smashed their records live on air. Pastors threatened to excommunicate members of their congregation that attended a Beatles concert. This was just as the Beatles were beginning their U.S tour. Even though Lennon issued a statement explaining his words and apologising, protesters gathered in every town the Beatles arrived in. The Beatles management was told, preluding their show in Memphis, Tennessee that there were now religious zealots who were actually threatening to assassinate John Lennon if the Beatles came to Memphis. This was an eerie foreshadow of the event that would take place not 15 years later. The mayor and board of commissioners of Memphis declared that the Beatles would not be welcome and upon arrival protestors lined the road where the decoy limousines were sent ahead, while the band rode in a coach, crouched on the floor to protect themselves from potential snipers. A cherry bomb was detonated at the evening show, and for a few seconds was thought to be a gunshot. Their final concert was held in San Francisco 10 weeks later and the Beatles ended their tour prematurely due to the controversy, and countless death threats. Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remark dismayed Mark David Chapman, a young born-again Christian who had become very religious and joined what had been dubbed the “Jesus Movement”. Even though he was a passionate Lennon fan, he held a grudge against him for his comments in 1966 and his admiration turning to betrayal and he bitterly destroyed his Beatles albums. This anger and fury turning into a psychotic mental illness and an obsession that would last until Chapman fatally shot Lennon on December 8th, 1980. Lennon’s controversial “Jesus” comment was a major influencing religious factor in his assassination.

The final key factor that influenced the assassination of John Lennon was social factors. Lennon had fame, fortune and yet was regarded by some to be a hypocrite. Lennon sings in his 1971 song Imagine featuring lyrics such as “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, no need for greed or hunger” (Lennon, 1971). Many people saw this and saw Lennon’s houses, millions and custom painted Rolls Royce and saw Lennon as hypocritical for Lennon to be preaching about something he didn’t value. Esquire magazine published a profile on Lennon in October of 1980 portraying Lennon as a “drug-addled millionaire recluse who had lost touch with his fans and his music”. Mark David Chapman, Lennon’s assassinator began becoming obsessed with JD Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, as his wife Gloria Abe noticed. Chapman identified with the story’s protagonist, who rallied against the phoniness around him. He would rage to his wife about the phoniness of celebrities in particular, which is why when Chapman read the profile on Lennon he spiralled and saw Lennon as a hypocrite and a “phony” as described in The Catcher in the Rye. He began to read everything about Lennon’s life and obsess about killing him. When Chapman murdered John Lennon, he was found reading The Catcher in the Rye, further proving that Lennon’s hypocrisy was a crucial factor in his assassination. The social factors of Lennon’s fame, fortune and hypocrisy, all influenced his assassination.

To conclude, there was multiple influencing factors on John Lennon’s assassination. These included political factors such as his heavily left-wing anti-war political opinions, religious factors such as his “Jesus” comment and social factors such as his supposed hypocrisy, fame and fortune. This all lead to his ultimate death in 1980. 

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Political, Religious And Social Factors Of John Lennon’s Assassination. (2022, April 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 1, 2022, from
“Political, Religious And Social Factors Of John Lennon’s Assassination.” GradesFixer, 11 Apr. 2022,
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