The King of Pop & the Purple Potentate
Royally religious preachers
A celebration happened on last Friday, June 25, 2010, the one-year anniversary
of the death of Michael Joseph Jackson. The modern-day world celebrated what is arguably the first international holiday
on record. Global celebrations crossed racial, ethnic, tribal, creed, and color lines; and even transcended both political
and religious ideologies as the earth mourned the death of the King of Pop, while simultaneously celebrating his life. Also
this past weekend millions watched as another megastar's life was celebrated. Who might that be? Prince, the Purple One!
Let me ask you a few intriguing questions about these two: What was the common denominator
between Michael Joseph Jackson, the King of Pop, and Prince Rogers Nelson, the Purple Potentate of Pop? Could it be that the
Gloved One's Swarovski-crystal-studded glove (worn during his 1984 Victory Tour) went for $190,000 at an auction last weekend
while Prince's Purple Rain handwritten lyrics went for $66,000 at the same auction? Nope, that's not it.
Or maybe it's the fact that both the Gloved One and the Purple One were honored at the BET
Awards this past Sunday, June 27, 2010, at the Shrine Auditorium here in Los Angeles? Chris Brown performed an emotional tribute
to Michael Jackson, while Prince received the Lifetime Achievement Award and was honored by Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, Patti
LaBelle, jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding, Chaka Khan, and Trey Songz. Could this be the common denominator? Guess again.
Okay, what about the fact that, among other print media accomplishments, both Michael and
Prince graced the cover of Ebony magazine? No, that's not it either. Well, here's a hint: when he was alive, this
commonality that consumed Michael Jackson's life, is the same one that's the centerpiece of Prince's purple existence. Give
up? Here's the answer: The nexus is the religion known as "Jehovah's Witnesses."
Michael was raised a Witness after the members showed up at the family's front door, Prince's introduction was different:
He "came in through the outdoor." VH1 explains: "As known for his groundbreaking music as he is for his raunchy
performances, Prince went through a religious conversion a few years ago and appeared humble, soft-spoken even, a contrast
to his earlier tendency to come off as eccentric and aloof."
Prince as having "settled into a hushed solitude" in recent years, Ebony magazine (July 2010) says of the
Purple One: "A Jehovah's Witness now for nearly a dozen years, he acknowledged that he has been seriously studying the
Bible for a long time, often under the tutelage of musical legend Larry Graham, a devout Jehovah's Witness."
Of course, like the King of Pop before him, the Purple Potentate of Pop publicly preaches the good
news. "The simple act of going door-to-door--as Jehovah's Witnesses do to spread ‘The Word'--can become sidetracked
by his schedule and other factors," reveals Ebony. "He wants to do it more and vows that he will."
As VH1 acknowledged, this is a far cry from how Prince used to be. "I was pretty wild in my
younger days," the Purple One confessed to an adoring Shrine Auditorium audience.
Prince and Michael heeded Jesus' command to "preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.'"
(Matt. 10:7) "Into whatever city or village you enter," continued the Lord, "search out who in it is
deserving, and stay there until you leave. When you are entering into the house, greet the household; and if the house is
deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you.
"Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or
that city shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on
Judgment Day than for that city." (Matt. 10:11-15) Jesus clearly instructed his followers to preach from house to house.
However, he warned that they would encounter resistance.
"Look! I am sending
you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. Be on your guard
against men; for they will deliver you up to local courts, and they will scourge you in their synagogues.
"Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the
nations." (Matt. 10:16-18) Indeed, the "wolves" have most certainly taken the Witnesses to "local courts,"
appeal courts--and even the U.S. Supreme Court--for over a half century. But, the Witnesses have managed to stay a step ahead.
Regarding the door-to-door preaching work a recent Supreme Court ruling reads:
"For over 50 years, the Court has invalidated restrictions on door-to-door canvassing and pamphleteering.
"It is more than historical accident that most of these cases involved First Amendment challenges
brought by Jehovah's Witnesses, because door-to-door canvassing is mandated by their religion. As we noted in Murdock
v. Pennsylvania,...(1943), the Jehovah's Witnesses ‘claim to follow the example of Paul,
teaching ‘publicly, and from house to house.' Acts 20:20.
literally the mandate of the Scriptures, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' Mark 16:15.
In doing so they believe that they are obeying a commandment of God."
what happens when Prince rings your doorbell?" asks Ebony. "Sometimes people recognize him,"
Ebony answers, "but he says they quickly move past it."
the Gloved One who dawned a fat suit and Afro wig when he preached from door to door as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Purple
Preacher declares: "I don't wear a disguise."
Time flies. Although
Brother Nelson has been a Witness now for well over a decade, in his Purplese, Purple Parlance, or PurpleSpeak--whichever
you prefer--he writes: "In Scripture, one day is like a 1,000 years 2 Jehovah God."
Ebony concludes: "Although Prince believes that other sources of knowledge have value, the Bible
and his relationship with Jehovah are clearly what he embraces."