Controversial Anti-Abortion, Pro-Creationism Evangelist Makes a John Lennon Movie
Ray Comfort, a Christian minister and socially conservative activist from New Zealand, made quite a splash last year when he made a documentary that the Anti-Defamation League slammed for equating the Holocaust to abortion in America. Now he’s released a new movie, and its subject matter is a bit odd for a provocateur of the Christian right: John Lennon.
The documentary Genius—released this week to coincide with the December 8 anniversary of Lennon’s death—portrays the former Beatle as a conservative-friendly anti-evolution rock icon. “John Lennon didn’t believe in the theory of evolution; he said it was garbage,” Comfort narrates, citing one quote from a 1980 Playboy interview in which Lennon expresses his doubts about Darwinism. The quote is a favorite among pop-culture-savvy anti-evolution types, even though the full context shows Lennon ripping Young Earth creationism as equally “insane.” Comfort also analyzes the supposed godly subtext to “Imagine”—a song reviled by Christian right leaders like Pat Robertson for its anti-capitalist, anti-religious message. Furthermore, the documentarian brushes aside Lennon’s famous 1966 “more popular than Jesus” comment as no big deal. At the time, the statement provoked international outrage, public bonfires of Beatles records and memorabilia, and threats from the Ku Klux Klan. Genius does briefly acknowledge that Lennon’s flirtation with Christianity in 1977 was short-lived, and that he went on to record the “blasphemous” song, “Serve Yourself.”
Though Comfort promotes the movie (which he wrote, directed, and stars in) as a feature focusing on Lennon’s musical “genius” and his shifting attitudes toward Christianity, much of it has nothing to do with the rock star. Instead—in what might be called a bizarre directorial decision—long stretches are devoted to footage of Comfort berating strangers on a California boardwalk and informing them that there’s a good chance they’re all going to Hell.