1: From King of Kings, David Sutton, in Fortean Times, February 2003
Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, 16 August, 2002: The normally traffic-choked state highway has been transformed from something quite different from its workday self. Candles flicker in the darkness, the rain pours down, and some 40,000 people keep their night long vigil. It’s a bizarre scene, like some kind of Bergmanesque, mediaeval pilgrimage transported into the 21st century America, with tears and laughter, celebration and mourning mingling in a tableau of devout humanity. You have to ask yourself: what’s going on?
Elvis as cult, or Elvis as religion is an area of growing interest to both fans and academia. EIN presents a number of disparate articles on the subject.
Despite Presley’s own deep, if somewhat selective, devotion to the Baptist-version of Christianity, the figure of Elvis-as-Messiah was one that he actively helped create, from a heady mixture of innocence, vanity, soul-searching and delusion.
Elvis never liked being called ‘the King’, maintaining that there was only one such and he certainly wasn’t of this world, but messianic obsessions and delusions overtook him later in life. The spangled jumpsuits and grandiosity of the arrangements in his 1970s shows hint at what was going on: anyone who can emerge on stage to the strains of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra (which Elvis had come across in his many viewings of 2001) and keep a straight face is pretty certain of their own importance. Consider the lyrics to Life (from 1971) and it’s clear we’ve come a long way from Hound Dog:
It’s one of the most mind-bogglingly awful songs ever recorded by anyone, ever, but Elvis no doubt took its cosmic nebulosities quite seriously. He was already aiming higher than mere personal enlightenment, trying out the role of a truly syncretic saviour, whether designing a medallion that united the crucifix with the Star of David, handing out scarves kissed with his sweat like so many holy relics, turning up at the White House to demand that President Nixon make him an undercover narcotics agent so he could single-handedly win America’s war on drugs or delivering bizarre 30-minute lectures on the spiritual aspects of karate to bewildered Vegas audiences.
And if, in the end, it all turned to the Christ-like loneliness of an increasingly self-tortured, hermetic life and a death that achieved utter bathos, that’s precisely what rounds out this American tragedy and leaves the 40,000 pilgrims outside Graceland wanting more. It’s a great 20th-century story about broken dreams, the nightmare of celebrity and the excesses of the very rich, and written between its lines is another, timeless one that is almost Gnostic in its insistence on the divine spark, trapped in the wracked, fleshy body, that just wants to go home.
Getting back on the bus to Beale Street, I realise that this is why the gates of Graceland swallow up so many thousands of visitors each year, why Heartbreak Hotel is always full of tourists and why the streets will soon be full of candle-wielding pilgrims; they all understand that Elvis died for our sins.
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Somewhere out in empty space
Long before the human race
A vast and timeless source began
There was the world
Powers filled the universe
Matter formed and broke the curse
Love became an ageless soul
Nature reached its highest goal
And breathed the breath of life
2: CULT WORSHIPS ELVIS PRESLEY AS GOD (Source: http://www.uncoveror.com/elvites.htm)
A new religion is springing up throughout America, and in other parts of the world. Mainstream faiths dismiss it as a cult, but the numbers of its faithful are growing. The Presleyite Disciples, who are also sometimes called, “Elvites”, worship Elvis as their god. We spoke to a Minister of the Presleyite Disciples about his belief system.
“It has been twenty five years since our Lord and Savior, Elvis Presley, ascended into heaven. He is now sitting on his holy throne, looking down upon us.” Our reporter asked him if he was joking, and he insisted that he was perfectly serious. He went on to tell THE UNCOVEROR more about his cult, and their rituals.
“I was one of the original twelve who witnessed the vision of Elvis. On the first anniversary of The King’s passing, we gathered together at Graceland. We were the first, and last, tour group ever to be allowed upstairs. As we shared our stories of how he remembered him, we began to weep. A woman named Jessica exclaimed ‘Elvis! If only you were here with us, we could’…” He explained that before she could finish, a strong wind blew into the room, a haze formed in front of them that brightened to a blinding light, then The King appeared before them.
“Thank you, Thank you,” he said. “Don’t cry all the time, like you ain’t nothing but a hound dog. I am here.” We were overcome with a feeling of joy as he spoke to us again, saying, “I am The King. I have heard your voices crying out. I did not die one year ago, I returned home to heaven, where I was since the beginning, and will be until the end. Earth was not yet ready to receive me. I want you twelve to make them ready. Go to all the world and tell them that Elvis is Lord. Tell them that all their pain and sorrow can be washed away, if they will accept Elvis as their Lord and Savior, and follow me. You will lead my disciples, and make the world ready to receive me.” A bright light formed around him, and he began to fade into it. We started to weep again, but he waved goodbye, saying “Don’t you cry. I’ll be back again someday.”
“Our faith was founded that day, and we began to perform our rituals. He was the hunk-a hunk-a burnin’ love in that bush speaking to Moses. It was he who performed all miracles. We keep a small handgun near the TV whenever we watch to strike with wrath and mighty vengeance should it offend us, as he did. We wear costumes to appear as he did, and we recite The Holy Trinity.”
I asked him what the Holy Trinity was, and he replied, “Dixie, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Hush Little Baby. We want all the world to hear our message. Are you lonesome tonight? Is your life all shook up? You can check out of the Heartbreak Hotel if you accept Elvis as your Lord and Savior. No Elvis, no peace. Know Elvis, know peace. In his memory, all Elvite women wear the cotton panties he enjoyed seeing on his female fans, and all of us eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches.”
I asked him how he felt about his organization being called a cult. He told me, “A cult is just what closed-minded people call a religion they don’t like. A small new religion is called a cult, and a large established cult is called a religion. To gain respect as an official religion, we are all putting “Presleyite Disciple" on our census forms under religion. Star Wars devotees have forced Congress to recognize Jedi as a real religion by doing this, and Elvites can, too.”
As strange as it may seem, the Elvites are not the only Elvis cult. There is also The First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis. They even have a website. Many people have a big problem with these groups. THE UNCOVEROR spoke to James Parsons, a man who knew Elvis while he was alive, and detests these Elvis Cults. “Elvis is dead. Let him rest, and by the way, Elvis did not like being called The King. He said that there is only one king, The King of Kings. He was a simple musician, and a religious man who would find the idolatry of the Presleyite Disciples and the rest of them highly offensive and troubling. I’ll bet that this whole thing is just a money grab like Scientology. Look at all the suckers that scam has taken!”
He told us that Elvis’ music touched and moved many people, and it is good that we remember him, but many fans obsession with him today borders on necrophilia. He also does not like Elvis impersonators. “Those idiots with their big hair wigs that look nothing like Elvis’ hair, and those ridiculous sunglasses that Elvis did not wear are not a tribute. They are making fun of him. It’s so disrespectful! Elvis was not a buffoon. These impersonators are buffoons.”
We will continue to investigate this story. The Elvites, may indeed be a money grab scam. Many con men have observed that an effective way to get rich quick is to invent a religion. One thing is certain; people’s devotion to Elvis is not going away. They gathered at Graceland, and braved pouring rain to observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of his passing. Many of the people who gathered were reciting The Lord’s Prayer. In twenty years, they may be reciting The King’s Prayer.
3: All Praise the King - The many faiths of Elvis Presley (Source: www.beliefnet.com)
Schmelvis: Searching for the King's Jewish Roots
A new film and book, both called "Schmelvis," explain Elvis Presley's Jewish roots. Site includes complete Elvis family tree documenting the Jewish connection, as well as more information about the book and movie.
Melvis: The First Openly Jewish Elvis Impersonator
Melvis's standard songs include "Blue Suede Jews," "Love Me Like a Gentile," and "Don't Be Cruel (to a Small White Jew)." Please note: Melvis does not perform on Yom Kippur.
Jelvis: The Jewish Elvis
Elvis impersonator Jelvis, who wears a tallit (a Jewish prayer shawl), bills himself as the "Kosher King."
Elvis - The Jewish Connection
This article, from Elvis Presley News, says that later in his life, Elvis learned Jewish teachings, became familiar with the Hebrew alphabet, and wore a chai (the Jewish world for life) necklace as part of his on-stage wardrobe. Includes a picture of Elvis wearing a Chai pendant.
Elvis vs. Jesus
Learn what Jesus and Elvis have in common--including astrological signs, sayings, resurrections, and more.
The First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis
A gospel-like rendition of Elvis' life, from his beginnings in the recording business to his death: "And Elvis so loved the world that he died, fat and bloated, in a bathroom." Features new lyrics to the Elvis hit, "Hound Dog:"
You ain't nothin' but a human,
Sinnin' all the time, Just an ungrateful human,
Sinnin' all the time,
No, you don't deserve salvation,
But you can be a friend of mine...
The Official Gospel of Elvis Web Page
Website for the book "The Gospel of Elvis," retelling of the life of Elvis in King James-style English. According to the site, the book "combines the two greatest stories ever told."
Elvis Worship, Catholic-Style
Short essay asserts there is an "aura of Catholicism" in Elvis worship. These Catholic forms common in Elvis reverence include saint's relics, and legends of sightings, miracles, and revered relics.
Elvis Is Dead (Deal With It)
This essay, from conservative Christian Probe Ministries, asks, "What does the fascination with Elvis tell us about ourselves?" The writer encourages readers to give up their obsession with Elvis in favor of Jesus.
Hindu Elvis Worship?
A portrait of Elvis hangs in a temple in Karnataka, India, next to pictures of Hindu deities. CNN reported the same story.
Pagan Elvis Ritual
"The Lesser Elvis Banishing Ritual of the Sequined Pentagram"--the site describest the ritual's purpose as clearing the area of all Elvis-negative influences.
The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis, the Divine
Click on Elvis to enter the church's site. Offers spiritual enlightenment, Elvis-style. Features a list of 31 holy items (such as hamburger buns, cans of sauerkraut, and El Producto cigars), an essay on the "Theory of Elvisivity," and an answer to the question, "Is this a cult?"
24-Hour Church of Elvis
This shop in Portland, Oregon is not really a church, but it does feature a resident "preacher woman." Offers marriages, t-shirts, Elvis ID cards, and Elvis drivers licenses.
Viva Lord Vegas
This 2001 article from The Bulletin, Australia, reports that Elvis worship may be developing into a real religion. "Call it Elvism, the Presleyterian church, Presleyanity, or a term yet to be coined, but it bears unmistakable signs of a cult changing into a recognisable faith," writes Christopher Reed.
Disgraceland Chapel and Meditation Room
The site encourages users to stop and meditate on Elvis and features a "brand new ceiling", a rendition of the central image in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The chapel also features the Elvis Grotto and Relicquiem
Visit EIN's Elvis as Religion archives to read more on the subject
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