“Ask a Priest: Will Michael Jackson Songs Endanger My Soul?”

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Q: I would like to ask if I am going to hell for listening to Michael Jackson’s songs? So I saw this video on YouTube where this girl was sent to heaven and hell for 23 hours, and in hell she saw Michael Jackson and he told her to tell people to stop listening to his music and to not dance to his music either, because he said that it was all from the devil. Also, people would be following the same path and going to hell. I am very scared. – M.C.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It would be good to be skeptical about people who claim to have gone to heaven and/or hell — and then returned to do YouTube videos.

A separate issue is the kind of music you listen to.

In all things we should keep our salvation in mind. St. Paul reminds us, “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

So, the question you might ask yourself is whether Michael Jackson songs will help you get to heaven. Perhaps there is better music to listen to.

Listening to music is a form of recreation. But not all forms of recreation are good for our soul. Some recreational activities can turn us in addicts, or stimulate our base and self-centered desires. What does the kind of music you listen to do to your mind and heart? Does it help refresh and inspire you, or does it bring out a dark side and make you less docile to the Holy Spirit?

The best music helps us to focus on God, not the singer.

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  1. Hi there, Firstly I agree with the priest, I do not think that this girl has gone to hell, it is maybe that she is wanting youtube views, lying or has a mental health condition, or simply is sharing a dream she had.

    I used to be a fan of the singer, and with any music that your enjoy you must put God and Jesus first. Some people tend to worship musicians and that is not a good thing to do.

    I saw the documentary on the television a few years ago where two men made claims against the singer and I believe them. Therefore yes I would say that since the singer did not live his life in a good manner that you should stop listening. I actually had a few records, etc and I threw them out. But that was my personal choice, others might not believe the men and that.

    Another thing is that for example you might listen to the radio which will have different styles of music and any singer or instrumental player, a drummer or a backing singer might not have lived their life well they might have committed terrible sins, but we may never know about that. So that is another point. The thing is if you think that someone has done terrible things then I would out of morals not listen anymore out of choice.

    I did my research and saw another older documentary of the singer and he had commissioned a painting of him self in a Christ like image, with little angels around him. This is wrong of him to do that, he thought himself as all powerful and he wanted to be praised and have glory like Christ. There are so many signs that this man could be narcassist. And it is alleged that he had abused children we should not listen to his music if we think that that is true. The painting was disrespectful to Jesus who saved us all.

    Some famous and non-famous people can be wolf in sheeps clothing. The music industry want their music to be sold because they want to make money. You might want to do your research to see what you think too. But those two men seems to be very hurt and had their childhoods ruined. I hope that the whole truth comes out about that man. It is difficult as it has not been proved or disapproved. But I read (and it depends on if the source is truthful or not) that they found items in his attic.

    I am a singer, and I have avoided becoming famous as I know what type of world the music industry is, I just like singing, but am the opposite of a narcassist so I dont promote my singing in the same “look at me” way that other performers do. And I have been recently learning that the whole famous thing and ego is very much destructive and people can loose their morals. WE have to all stay close to Jesus and God, he loves us and wants us close to him.

    I really loved his music, and the messages of saving the world and all he put forward and I was tricked, I danced to his music and sung it around the house and had even put a poster up in my room! When I think about it as a teenager I put his music in front of God and Jesus and anything that does that is not healthy and not right.

    So put God, Jesus and our dear Mother first.

    I listen to radio and sometimes that singers music comes on, I just let in play in the background and ignore it or sometimes I just switch it off.

    I tend to avoid it and I certainly do not listen to it on purpose anymore. I pray for the whole truth to come out about this so that we can all know for certain. But God knows the truth anyway. And as I said if you start putting a famous singer, actor, or even an object in front of God it is not healthy. that famous singer, actor etc is no good for you to be spending time on.

    There is lots of music out there so vary your listening, sadly some of the music that you will listen to even classical the lives of performers and composers were sometimes not good either. So enjoying music and having a variety and not getting hooked on a certain performer is a good and more healthy thing to do.

    And there is some special music out there called Catholic Hymns which are a way to pray to God, if you like music then do sing along to some hymns from time to time.

    If you are asking a priest about the youtube video, then perhaps you are also questioning yourself on a deeper level, if you are feeling a bit uncomfortable about listening do your research on what facts you can find. and then make a moral decision based on the facts.

  2. I looked up the video that you speak of! it is just a silly video that is just someone wanting views to gain money. Be careful of watching such things.

  3. Sarah, you provide some good points. However, I’m concerned about the performer’s sinful actions/lifestyle being involved in decisions of whether or not the music should be avoided. The Catholic Church, like the good Mother she is, has graciously provided us with a scale of degrees of material and formal cooperation with evil to help with stuff like this. If it’s remote material cooperation with evil, you’re fine. I’m concerned that this point, in particular, may trigger episodes of scruples in people who suffer scrupulosity. I don’t want my brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer from scrupulosity losing their peace of mind by thinking such things (listening to the music of performers who have sinned) is a sin when it probably isn’t, especially when the situation turns out to be one of remote material cooperation. In fact, I suffer from scrupulosity from time to time. The fact that you brought up the composers of classical music and their moral shortcomings is a little too far. These composers are long dead. Take Bach for example. He wrote a lot of Christian classical music. Spending a healthy amount of time on the performer is not sinful or bad. Admiring a performer’s talent isn’t sinful or intrinsically evil. Many times, I remember that all they have, including their talents, are gifts from God. When I do listen to my music, for example, I thank God for Emmy Rossum’s and Sierra Boggess’s beautiful voices, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s talent for composing such beautiful melodies, Charles Hart’s and Richard Stilgoe’s incredible minds when it comes to writing lyrics. Just make sure God gets his due first.

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