Snoop Lion and Five More Weird Religious Conversions That Need to Happen
Snoop Whatever at FPSF 2012
Photo by Marco Torres
A funny thing happened to our old buddy Snoop Dogg last year: he got religion. And not just any old religion, either. In a move that we probably should have seen coming, the Doggfather formally embraced the Rastafari movement, a Jamaican spiritual ideology with fewer than a million adherents worldwide by most estimates.
Perhaps understandably, this conversion was taken by many to be yet another sign of Snoop's devotion to ganja rather than God. While Rastas' sacramental cannabis usage is pretty widely known (and celebrated) at this point, most of the movement's spiritual pillars are more poorly understood by your average gangsta rap aficionado. Rastafari began popping up in the 1930s during the reign of Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie I, whom the faithful revere as an incarnation of God.
Africa's only independent monarch for a time, Selassie (or Jah Rastafari, as he's known) is expected by his followers to return someday to usher in the perfect world of Zion, a heavenly paradise free from the corruption of Western society.
Following a pilgrimage to Jamaica, the man who wrote "Ain't No Fun (If the Homes Can't Have None)" rechristened himself "Snoop Lion," recorded and released a reggae album and filmed the whole experience for a documentary entitled Reincarnated.
How seriously is Snoop taking this conversion? Tough to say for sure. There are certainly elements of the Rastari way with obvious appeal for the rapper (Afrocentrism; weed). Other beliefs, though, such as the rejection of materialism and sensual pleasures, may be a tad more difficult for him to choke down indefinitely. Fans can judge the Dogg's sincerity for themselves tonight when the Rastaman takes the stage at House of Blues.
At first blush, though, the whole conversion thing feels rather appropriate. Not least because the Rastafari's greatest evangelists have always been musicians -- especially reggae legends like Bob Marley and the Wailers. Nothing helps spread spiritual ideas faster than an honest-to-God pop icon.
In fact, we here at Rocks Off kind of hope that Snoop will be an inspiration for other musical superstars to champion offbeat faiths. Since the proliferation of spiritual healing is a core mission of this here blog, we've come up with a few fringe faiths that only need the right artist to help take them mainstream.
So open your heart, light up a candle (or a spliff, if that's what you believe in) and read on -- you might just discover a new icon with a set of beliefs that you can live with, too.
5. Justin Bieber for Scientology If there's one superstar right now in desperate need of some spiritual rehabilitation, it's got to be Justin Bieber, the pop sensation/little fuckhead who's made more headlines for his bad behavior in recent months than for his voice-of-a-generation musical stylings. Luckily, there's a religion out there with particular interest and experience in shepherding celebrities into a new spiritual understanding.
According to the tenets of Scientology, humans are immortal beings who have forgotten their true Thetan nature -- a state of spiritual purity that can only be rediscovered through a form of counseling known as auditing. If there's any star who could benefit from a well-publicized return to purity, it's Bieber.
Given Scientology's prioritization of celebrity outreach and "fixed donations," no doubt they'd love to hook up a rich, popular and attractive star like J.B. up to an e-meter at the first opportunity. As for Justin? Well, embracing Scientology makes for better headlines than "Drunken Bieber Pisses Into Mop Bucket." Slightly better, anyway.
4. Lady Gaga for Raëlism Anybody who saw her hatch out of that egg at the Grammys a couple years back can pretty much agree at this point that Lady Gaga is an extraterrestrial of some sort. And hey, we here at Rocks Off welcome our new alien overlord. In fact, we think her off-world heritage makes her the perfect evangelist for Raëlism, the world's largest UFO religion.
Founded in France in the '70s, the Raëlian Movement teaches humanity was scientifically created by an alien species known as the Elohim, and that if we become peaceful and spiritually aware enough, we can rejoin them amongst the stars one day. Part of that includes being true to our own sexual nature, be it heterosexuality, homosexuality, pansexuality or anything else consenting adults might find hot. Come to think of it, did Gaga found this religion, because it kinda seems right up her alley.
Raëlians are also big fans of human cloning, which they believe is a path to immortality. Lady Gaga might just have the money, stroke and eccentricity required to make the dream of human genetic duplication a reality at last. We only hope there's enough latex in the universe to clothe all her clones.
Story continues on the next page.
Photo by Marco Torres
3. John Mayer for Oneida From Jennifer Aniston to Jessica Simpson to Katy Perry, John Mayer has seemingly made it his mission to bed every gorgeous woman in the recording industry -- sans commitment, natch. That's what makes him the perfect figurehead for the Oneida Community, a religious sect that strongly promoted the ideal of free love.
Founded in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes in Oneida, N.Y., the Oneida Community believed that Jesus Christ had returned in A.D. 70, making it possible to usher in heaven on Earth through the practice of communalism. Part of that doctrine was that adherents should totally fuck each other a lot, monogamy be damned.
Since John Mayer is already basically practicing this holy inclusivity within his own community, it's a slam dunk that he's the guy to resurrect this tiny little religion, which died out in 1879 when Noyes fled the country to avoid a statutory rape charge. So, y'know, check IDs, John. And maybe abandon the Oneidian practice of eugenics, too, just to be safe.
2. Ian Curtis for the Church of Euthanasia Save the planet: Kill yourself. That's the unofficial slogan of the Church of Euthanasia, a group whose response to the perceived ugliness of modern, industrial society is voluntary population reduction. The Church's four pillars of belief are consensual suicide, abortion, cannibalism of the already dead, and sex without procreation. If that seems a little inflammatory or unpleasant, well, that's only because you haven't killed yourself yet.
Since the Church of Euthanasia has no problem enlisting the dead for participation in their beliefs (cannibalism, dog!), churchgoers should feel no compunction about making the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis their top celebrity evangelist. After all, Curtis, too, despised the urban decay and spiritlessness he perceived all around him. What's more, he did something about it.
Although Curtis' suicide likely makes him a hero in the eyes of the Church, it may not be so likely that his millions of fans suffer from the same conflagration of epilepsy, depression and marital strife that convinced him he was better off dead. Then again, his songs were a hell of a lot more eloquent than "Thou shalt not procreate."
1. Kanye West for the Church of Satan Members of the Church of Satan, a fun little group founded by former carny and "psychic investigator" Anton LaVey, believe in no higher power than the self. Essentially, every LaVeyan Satanist serves as his or her own god, with all worship and spiritual interest focused inward. Gosh, who do we know that's already living by such a creed?
If there's any superstar on earth convinced of his own supremacy and, perhaps, divinity, it's got to be our good pal Kanye West. Shit, he even recorded and released a track called "I Am a God." And we don't doubt he believes that, either.
Kanye certainly wouldn't be the first famous musician to hook up with the Church of Satan. Everybody from Sammy Davis, Jr., to Marilyn Manson and even Liberace has dabbled in the darkness over the years. But all of them combined couldn't hope to be as loud, honest and up-front with their self-worship as Mr. West.
And if there's anything that's more Satanic than marrying a Kardashian, we don't want to know about it.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.