Examining George Michael’s religious beliefs after his death on Christmas morning.
Pop idol George Michael has died at the age of 53. A statement from his publicist reads “It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.”
George Michael rose to fame at a young age, first with his band Wham!, formed with friend Andrew Ridgeley in the 1980s and then later with a solo career. He produced hits such as “Last Christmas“, “Faith“, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go“, “Careless Whisper“, and many more.
George Michael was born in London, England. His birth name was Georgios Panayiotou. He was brought up as a Protestant Christian, however, according to him, the religion never had any impact on him. His grandmother was Jewish, but she married a non-Jew and hid her Jewish lineage out of fear during World War II.
A friend of George Michael, Michael Brown, revealed this week that Michael was very curious about religion, asking him questions about God and Christianity. Brown said he asked him to pray for him before every concert. With song titles such as “Faith”, “Jesus to a Child”, “Cowboys and Angels”, “Praying for Time”, and a stint wearing a cross earring, it would appear Michael had some sort of interest or curiosity about Christianity.
George Michael silently contributed millions in donations to those in need. Michael sent £15,000 ($18,359.03 USD) to a woman he saw on a TV show who needed the money for an in-vitro fertilization treatment. He gave a £5,000 ($6119.25 USD) tip to a student barmaid who had a large student debt. He helped to raise funds to support HIV-infected people. Jane Barron from the Terrence Higgins Trust said, “His donations contributed to a vision of a world where people living with HIV live healthy lives free from prejudice and discrimination. Thanks to George's legacy, we are a step closer to that world and we are so grateful for his support and friendship over the years.” This is the George Michael that the public doesn't know because he wanted it that way. He didn't want his generosity to be made public.
He was a person who did not like fundamentalist Christians, in fact, he loathed them and their belief that gay people are going to hell. When Michael had pneumonia, Christians for a Moral America prayed openly for his death. George Michael never tagged himself as an atheist, but people listening to his songs often wondered whether he was an atheist or a religious man. Michael always praised England for its secular views and criticized America for being too religious, which he saw as a threat to the gay community. He did find it important to differentiate between Christians and Fundamentalist Christians in an interview:
“I know for a fact that many devout Christians. . . are truly wonderful, kind-hearted men and women who take the best parts of that religion and live admirable, generous and loving lives. . . But in my opinion. . . there are others who use their twisted interpretations of ancient scriptures as a pathetic excuse. . .”
Politically, Michael was a liberal, although he never supported any party. He was never afraid to put his views out there. Michael was a strong critic of the Iraq war and George W. Bush. He opposed strongly the relationship between Bush and Tony Blair. His song “Shoot the Dog” is considered as an expression of this opposition by many. He even criticized David Cameron for his lack of courage and for being a puppet.
George Michael had his vices as well. He was sentenced to community service in 2007 for driving under the influence. He was barred for two years from driving. He was arrested for supposedly possessing crack cocaine. In an interview given to The Guardian in 2009, he himself admitted to all his vices, however, he also said that he did not see these vices as weaknesses anymore.
Friends and fans of Michael expressed their condolences on Twitter:
Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx https://t.co/OlGTm4D9O6
— Andrew Ridgeley (@ajridgeley) December 26, 2016
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) December 26, 2016
RIP George Michael. I can't believe it. Such an incredible singer and a lovely human being, far too young to leave us #georgemichael
— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) December 25, 2016
Had the pleasure of knowing George Michael in the 80s. Voice of an angel. Now he can sing for them.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) December 26, 2016
Rest with the glittering stars, George Michael. You've found your Freedom, your Faith. It was your Last Christmas, and we shall miss you.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) December 25, 2016
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