Apr 24, 2016

The faith of Prince: Seventh-day Adventist turned Jehovah's Witness

Greg Garrison
April 21, 2016

Like fellow pop superstar Michael Jackson, who once went door-to-door with religious tracts in Alabama, Prince was a Jehovah's Witness.

Prince, 57, who died on Thursday, became a Jehovah's Witness in 2001.

"I don't see it really as a conversion," Prince said in an interview with The New Yorker."More, you know, it's a realization. It's like Morpheus and Neo in 'The Matrix.'"

He was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist and showed strong faith even as a child, when he suffered epileptic seizures and declared himself to be healed. "Mom, I'm not going to be sick anymore,'" he hold his mother, according to People magazine. His mother asked why. "Because an angel told me so," he said.

Just as Jackson did, Prince sometimes went door-to-door as a Jehovah's Witness.

In 2003, a Minneapolis newspaper carried a story about a couple startled when Prince knocked on their door, offering a copy of The Watchtower, the Jehovah's Witness magazine.

"Though they were Orthodox Jews, and it was Yom Kippur, they were also Prince fans," wrote Sean O'Hagan of The Observer. "They welcomed him into the house where, with his friend Larry Graham, erstwhile member of Sly & the Family Stone, one of Prince's core influences, he spread the word of Jehovah for 20 minutes before moving on to the next house."

In a similar incident in the mid-1980s, Michael Jackson at the height of his fame once went proselytizing door-to-door in Alabama while staying in Birmingham to rehearse for a tour at the BJCC Arena.

Jackson, accompanied by local Jehovah's Witnesses, wore a disguise including a wig, but was quickly recognized and set off a frenzy that forced him into hiding.

Prince wrote often about God, faith and the afterlife, and his theology co-existed with raunchy sexuality in his lyrics.

"We are sensual beings, the way God created us, when you take the shame and taboo away from it," he said in an interview with V Magazine, and then described religion as "like a force, an electro-magnetic one or like gravity, that puts things in motion."

Although Prince celebrated sexuality, he wasn't afraid to share the gospel in a song. In "The Cross," from his "Sign O' the Times" album, he wrote and sang:

Black day, stormy night
No love, no hope in sight
Don't cry, he is coming
Don't die without knowing the cross
Ghettos to the left of us
Flowers to the right
There'll be bread for all of us
If we can just bear the cross


No comments: