How The Beatles Yellow Submarine Changed Christianity

Animated Movie Led To Radical Reinterpretation Of Religion Across The United States

The psychedelic 1968 Beatles movie Yellow Submarine has been seen as highly influential. The movie, developed with one of the biggest rock bands of the 20th century, led to an explosion of interest in animation geared toward adults. A little-known way that the movie influenced American culture was in religion.

When the movie was released, it became a rallying symbol for Americans who wanted to take the radical progressivism of late 1960s social movements and apply them to religion. Across the country, several “Submarine Churches” were created. These churches preached love and understanding.

But they were completely different than most other churches. They engaged in public demonstrations against injustice. They would parody religious scenes to draw attention to their cause. For example, members sent a couple and a donkey to seek lodging at a hotel on Christmas to recreate John and Mary’s quest. The symbol of the movement was a yellow submarine with a small cross on its periscope. Most participants were young adults.

The only aspect of the Submarine Church Movement that matched its radicalism was how fast it burned out. Many of the churches either disappeared or evolved into buildings that provided social services for their local communities. Some experts have pointed out that the movement was an early influence for Protestant denominations that focused on providing social services and appealing to younger generations in the 1990s.

While The Beatles may have influenced Christianity, the band members were not particularly religious. They described themselves as atheists and once famously called their band “bigger than Jesus.” While each member dabbled in different forms of Eastern mysticism and spiritualism, there was never any support for a Judeo-Christian belief system.


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