Was Elvis Presley a Christian?
It has been 29 years since Elvis left the building on August 16, 1977. To read the report as it was published in the Washington Post click here.
I discovered the music of Elvis late, but I'm pretty convinced the rock and roll era really began with him. He wasn't the first in the genre, but it never would have gone where it did if it wasn't for Elvis. Growing up I saw a few of his movies, although he never caught my attention until I saw a special on the dance moves of Michael Jackson. The entire special was in black and white and showed Jackson's moves from the waist down. They showed a comparison of Michael Jackson's dance moves and then showed Elvis. Michael took a LOAD of his moves DIRECTLY from Elvis. The bent leg move was a direct copy from Elvis. Jackson also took moves from James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire and other famous dancers. Hardly any of his moves were original, including the 'moonwalk' which he copied from Sammy Davis.
Elvis knew that God was God and he wasn't. 'He didn't like being called 'The King', says Ray Walker of the Gospel group The Jordanaires that backed Elvis up on many of his hit songs. "The 'king of rock 'n' roll' was one thing, but not 'The King'." He said one time, 'There's only one king, and that's Jesus Christ.' He'd be appalled by the Church of Elvis. He knew who he was. He wasn't fooled." (click here to listen the Jordanaires singing Gospel.)
There are other accounts from the colleagues of Elvis where he would say, "Im not the king, Jesus Christ is the king." He also said it in Vegas.
Elvis has a step brother that became a Christian and he reports that Elvis believed in Jesus. His step brother, David Stanley said, "Elvis read a lot of books, The Impersonal Life, the Shroud of Turin, endless, but he always went back to the Bible."
Elvis had another step-brother, Rick Stanley, who today is a Baptist Evangelist that has spoken in over 4,000 churches. Rick Stanley has written a book, Caught in the Trap where he highlights many of the spiritual events and struggles in Elvis' life. Stanley recalls when Elvis was in Las Vegas, he asked Evangelist Rex Humbard and his wife to be backstage with him. Elvis dedicated "How Great Thou Art" to Humbard that night. It was then that Elvis knelt down to pray with Humbard and recommitted his life to Christ. Elvis was talking about Jesus being the Truth the night before he died. It was Rex Humbard that conducted Elvis' funeral.
David Stanley says that fame caused Elvis to be conflicted about just everything in life. "I would sit down on his bed and watch him open the Bible and cry his eyes out 'God give me strength!' One day he's taking a handful of drugs, next day he's praying for forgiveness."
Elvis' childhood friend, Becky Martin, said that Elvis always wanted to be a preacher. She says that in the 70s Elvis told her, "Becky, just think what I could have done if I had become a preacher! Just think of the good I could have done for the Lord!"
Elvis struggled for sure. He loved doing Gospel music, but he struggled his whole life to connect the two worlds without success.
The great thing is those of us who are believers will see Elvis again. If you missed how great he was in this life, you can meet him in the next. At least that's what his minister step-brothers tell us. But between now and then get some of his real early stuff and you'll see that he truly is one of the originators of roll and roll!
When David Stanley said Elvis was "going back to the Bible" he meant it. Elvis grew up in the Pentecostal church, in the Assemblies of God. He loved the music and went to many Gospel conventions. All his life he would keep "coming back to the Bible."