Author Topic: Frank Sinatraís views on organized religion were decades ahead of his time  (Read 1081 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Frank Sinatraís views on organized religion were decades ahead of his time
posted by DeadState August 29, 2014

We came across this old interview with Frank Sinatra recently, and needless to say, we were stunned.

The interview originally appeared in Playboy Magazine in 1963, and it demonstrates the timeless performerís incredibly deep and evolved thoughts on organized religion Ė thoughts that rival many of todayís scholarly critics of faith.

Check out this excerpt:

Playboy: Are you a religious man? Do you believe in God?

Sinatra: Well, thatíll do for openers. I think I can sum up my religious feelings in a couple of paragraphs. First: I believe in you and me. Iím like Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in that I have a respect for life ó in any form. I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I donít believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. Iím not unmindful of manís seeming need for faith; Iím for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Danielís. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle. The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line. Well, I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. Itís not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach Him. You can find Him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, The Sermon on the Mount.

Playboy: You havenít found any answers for yourself in organized religion?

Sinatra: There are things about organized religion which I resent. Christ is revered as the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been shed in His name than any other figure in history. You show me one step forward in the name of religion and Iíll show you a hundred retrogressions. Remember, they were men of God who destroyed the educational treasures at Alexandria, who perpetrated the Inquisition in Spain, who burned the witches at Salem. Over 25,000 organized religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each think all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well. In India they worship white cows, monkeys and a dip in the Ganges. The Moslems accept slavery and prepare for Allah, who promises wine and revirginated women. And witch doctors arenít just in Africa. If you look in the L.A. papers of a Sunday morning, youíll see the local variety advertising their wares like suits with two pairs of pants.

Playboy: Hasnít religious faith just as often served as a civilizing influence?

Sinatra: Remember that leering, cursing lynch mob in Little Rock reviling a meek, innocent little 12-year-old Negro girl as she tried to enroll in public school? Werenít they ó or most of them ó devout churchgoers? I detest the two-faced who pretend liberality but are practiced bigots in their own mean little spheres. I didnít tell my daughter whom to marry, but Iíd have broken her back if she had had big eyes for a bigot. As I see it, man is a product of his conditioning, and the social forces which mold his morality and conduct ó including racial prejudice ó are influenced more by material things like food and economic necessities than by the fear and awe and bigotry generated by the high priests of commercialized superstition. Now donít get me wrong. Iím for decency ó period. Iím for anything and everything that bodes love and consideration for my fellow man. But when lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday ó cash me out.

Playboy: But arenít such spiritual hypocrites in a minority? Arenít most Americans fairly consistent in their conduct within the precepts of religious doctrine?

Sinatra: Iíve got no quarrel with men of decency at any level. But I canít believe that decency stems only from religion. And I canít help wondering how many public figures make avowals of religious faith to maintain an aura of respectability. Our civilization, such as it is, was shaped by religion, and the men who aspire to public office anyplace in the free world must make obeisance to God or risk immediate opprobrium. Our press accurately reflects the religious nature of our society, but youíll notice that it also carries the articles and advertisements of astrology and hokey Elmer Gantry revivalists. We in America pride ourselves on freedom of the press, but every day I see, and so do you, this kind of dishonesty and distortion not only in this area but in reporting ó about guys like me, for instance, which is of minor importance except to me; but also in reporting world news. How can a free people make decisions without facts? If the press reports world news as they report about me, weíre in trouble.

Playboy: Are you saying that . . .

Sinatra: No, wait, let me finish. Have you thought of the chance Iím taking by speaking out this way? Can you imagine the deluge of crank letters, curses, threats and obscenities Iíll receive after these remarks gain general circulation? Worse, the boycott of my records, my films, maybe a picket line at my opening at the Sands. Why? Because Iíve dared to say that love and decency are not necessarily concomitants of religious fervor.

Playboy: If you think youíre stepping over the line, offending your public or perhaps risking economic suicide, shall we cut this off now, erase the tape and start over along more antiseptic lines?

Sinatra: No, letís let it run. Iíve thought this way for years, ached to say these things. Whom have I harmed by what Iíve said? What moral defection have I suggested? No, I donít want to chicken out now. Come on, pal, the clockís running.

Offline BmoreAkuma

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Re: Frank Sinatraís views on organized religion were decades ahead of his time
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2014, 02:09:05 pm »
Wow I respect this man. The gall to say this in the 1960s, color me impressed. As a person whom don't really follow a faith or anything, comments like these make you realize you're not alone.
With these choices, I felt that the American black man only needed to choose which one to get eaten by; the liberal fox or the conservative wolf because both of them will eat him.