Michael's sister LaToya Jackson penned LA TOYA - Growing Up in the Jackson Family (1991, New York: Penguin Books) and provides some interesting snippets about growing up as Jehovah's Witnesses in the Jackson family:
"After Mother became a Jehovah's Witness, we no longer celebrated Christmas at home. So my grand-parents, feeling sorry for us, took us to Christmas parties and gave us gifts and money. Although this went against my mother's religious beliefs, she permitted it, seeing how happy it made us." p. 21
On Dating and Door-to-Door
"While my older brothers were dating, the opposite sex was the last thing on my mind. For one thing, Michael and I were very active in the Jehovah's Witness faith. By this time most of our siblings had basically given it up. Five days a week the two of us and Mother studied the Bible at home and attended the Kingdom Hall.... Every morning Michael and I witnessed, knocking on doors around Los Angeles, spreading the word of Jehovah. As my brother's fame grew, he had to don disguises, like a rubber fat suit he bought years later, around the time of Thriller. Adults were easily fooled by Michael's incognito, but it was a rare child who didn't see through his costume...." p. 53, 54
On Personal Grooming
"As an entertainer and idol of millions, Michael was always being reproached for such things as the length of his hair and for wearing widely flared bell-bottoms. My brother loves vivid colors, particularly red, causing one elder to criticize, `The colors you wear are too bright, and you're attracting attention to yourself. You must stick with brown and black.' Some Witnesses refused to associate with us at all." p. 56
"Whatever long-standing reservations these Witnesses held about Michael being a pop idol crystallized the night he won those record-breaking eight honors at the 1984 Grammy Awards. The very next morning one elder issued him an ultimatum that my brother must choose between music and the religion. `What you're doing is wrong,' the man declared." p. 197
"Truth be told, many Jehovah's Witnesses used to congregate outside the Kingdom Hall hoping to catch a glimpse of Michael Jackson, knowing full well this kind of adulation was forbidden." p. 197
La Toya recounts the treatment her closest friend received by the elders:
"During a meeting, Darles bravely challenged one of the elders. `Why is it that I will be saved,' she asked innocently, `but my parents won't be? They may not be Witnesses, but they're perfectly nice people.' The elder's reply was typical. He cited the scripture, which supported his position but did not really address Darles's point. So she wrote a letter further explaining her feelings and doubts. This outraged the other elders. One day Rebbie's husband, Nathaniel, also an elder, cornered me. `La Toya,' he said, `you're never allowed to speak to Darles again. Ever.'"
"`She's been disfellowshiped.' Cast out of the faith, to be shunned from then on." p. 55
La Toya recounts the time when Michael was told not to ever talk to his sister (meaning La Toya) again:
"`La Toya, I ...' The words came out in a torrent. `I can't talk to you ever again.'"
"What do you mean?"
"The elders had a big meeting, and they told me never to speak to you because you haven't been coming to the Kingdom Hall."
"Michael then excused himself, drove over to his friend Marlon Brando's house, asking his advice. Marlon advised him, `For heaven's sake, Michael, that's your sister. If that's the way they're going to do things, you don't need to be part of that. You can always get another religion, but you can never get another sister.'"
"Michael decided to disobey the elders' edict and after that never attended any more meetings. To this day we've never discussed exactly what happened, but I know he subsequently severed his ties to the organization through a formal letter." p. 199
Personal Conflicts with the Jehovah's Witness Faith
In 1991 a book was released, Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness by J. Randy Taraborreli.
This book goes into some interesting situations that the gloved one had with the elders in his congregation. I quote some things from the book:
"Despite the fact that Michael was a devote Jehovah's Witness-and no doubt had donated quite a bit of money to the religion-the church's elders were extremely upset with him, mostly because of the "Thriller" video. p.324
"But before he had even finished work on the "Thriller" video it brought to a head the ongoing conflict between the church elders of the Encino Kingdom Hall and Michael regarding his fame and his career....In meetings between Michael and the elders...he was not receptive....He refused to make any kind of statement repudiating his work, and the church insisted he should .....Finally, when the elders threatened to force him to leave the religion Michael became extremely upset" p.326
This obviously had a serious effect on the gloved one so he decided to destroy the tapes. We're talking about a million dollars of work here. It was brought out to Michael that the church elders should not dictate Michael's "artistry." Michael's attention was brought to the fact that Bella Lugosi was a very religious man yet he played out his artistry as Dracula and Lugosi's religious beliefs had no bearing on his "art." So it was suggested that Michael put a disclaimer at the beginning of the video stating that the video in no way reflect Michael's religious convictions. Michael agreed to this. John Landis, the director, didn't want to do it but if he didn't agree then the whole Thriller video was going to be scrapped.
The book continues:
"How ironic that Michael's benevolent spirit wasn't enough to satisfy the elders of his Jehovah's Witness congregation. They expected him to restrict his entertainment practices as well. At this time, Michael was called into another meeting with the witness elders over the "Thriller" video. Again they told him that they were considering excluding Michael from the religion. Michael left the meeting particularly shaken. He did not want to be disfellowshipped. He decided he would disown "Thriller" if he had to.... Furthermore Michael would make a public statement about his sin in an issue of the Witness periodical, Awake! ( May 22, 1984 ) p.359
Finally Michael became like the rest of us in this group.
" In the spring of 1987 Michael disassociated himself from the congregation and that he no longer wants to be known as a Jehovah's Witness."
Michael's "Interfaith" Activities
In 2000, some Beliefnet folks were invited to a small meeting with Michael Jackson, who was trying to raise money for a Peter Pan theme park. It was probably the most candid expression of Michael's faith comes from his own words in a Beliefnet article ran in 2000 READ MORE
However, as early as 1992, there were indications that there might be a crossover between the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Nation of Islam, at least for Michael, if not for many others. Firpo Carr, in his book A History of Jehovah's Witnesses: From a Black American Perspective, indicates there are connections between Jehovah's Witnesses and the Nation:
Carr attempts to document similarities between the Black Muslim movement and the Watchtower movement. He argues that Wallace D. Fard, founder of the Black Muslims, was influenced by the teachings of J.F. Rutherford, second president of the Watchtower Society. He quotes the book Elijah Muhammad: Religious Leader by Malu Halasa: "Though Fard may have embellished or exaggerated the details of his life, the origins of his teachings were not quite so mysterious. The Nation [of Islam] drew its principles not only from the Koran but also from the Bible, books about Freemasonry, and the philosophy of Joseph F. ('Judge :) Rutherford, leader of Jehovah 's Witnesses." SOURCE
Dr. Jerry Bergman, a former Jehovah's Witness and author of numerous books, confronts Firpo Carr and challenges his reliability as regards to his research on race issues and the Watchtower. SOURCE
Dr. Bergman also wrote an article about Jehovah's Witnesses, Blacks and Discrimination in the mid-90s that provides interesting insight into certain aspects of racism within the Jehovah's Witnesses. He writes:
Writing from another "Black American Perspective," I can tell you that "blacks" are still second-class in the Watchtower movement regardless of what Firpo states. Only very recently has the Watchtower ventured to place "blacks" in its regional management posts--i.e.: circuit or district overseer--in its Southern territories of the USA. Also, from the representative stance, the Governing Body lacks Asian, Hispanic, and "black Americans." ... the latest slew of "young people" articles ... bombast a popular and predominantly "black" music form ("rap" music) [shows] ... the Watchtower's strong, white, middle-class orientation. It notes very little on the more acceptable "white" suburban music forms of country, modern rock, metal, pop, etc. but focuses on the suburban white, middle-class "fear"--black rappers invading the white home. Additional evidence of the Watchtower's "white,""good ole boys" club mentality (1993:9).
Ties with the Nation of Islam
By 2003 Jackson had hired bodyguards from the Nation of Islam, which apparently caused some problems. SOURCE
On January 3, 2004 Firpo Carr is touted as a "Jackson Family advisor." CNN anchor Andrea Koppel spoke Saturday with Firpo Carr, a Jackson family spiritual adviser, about the Jacksons' point of view. Firpo comments:
KOPPEL: You've been a friend of theirs for about the last 10 or 11 years, how is it that you and other friends are supporting them now?
CARR: Well, I'd like to direct them to the Scriptures. Michael's mother is one of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and so is his older sister and her husband and family. They all have a Witness background so they're familiar with the Bible but I like to refer them to Scriptures and to let them know that this, too, shall pass. SOURCE
By 2007 it was reported that Jermaine Jackson wanted Michael to become a Muslim:
Jermaine Wants Michael to Become Muslim
Jan 31, 2007
Jermaine Jackson is such a calming man and he puts this down to converting to Islam and he feels that his brother Michael Jackson should also convert and become Muslim as it would help him cope with his stardom and also give him protection from all the attacks that have happened to Michael in the past which Jermaine says are totally untrue.
Jermaine who now lives in Bahrain says that it is a truly wonderful place to be and he is the reason why Michael has also decided to live there as well.
On the day of Michael's death, Beliefnet updated their information on Michael:
Michael Jackson's Faith June 26, 2009
The pop icon was raised a Jehovah's Witness, but according to some accounts had been "disfellowshipped" for various infractions. Last fall it was reported that Jackson had become a Muslim and changed his name to Mikaeel:
The 50-year-old singer, who has previously been photographed wearing a traditional Arab women's veil, reportedly became a Muslim in a ceremony at a friend's house in Los Angeles.
The singer, who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, is said to have sat on the floor and worn a small hat while an imam officiated at the home of Steve Porcaro, who composed music on his Thriller album.
He is said to have been encouraged by Canadian songwriter David Wharnsby and Phillip Bubal, a producer, who both approached him after he appeared 'a bit down'.
A source told The Sun: 'They began talking to him about their beliefs, and how they thought they had become better people after they converted. Michael soon began warming to the idea.
'An imam was summoned from the mosque and Michael went through the shahada, which is the Muslim declaration of belief.'
written by Danny Haszard, July 02, 2009
I was born 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness 1957,and am the same age (51) as Michael Jackson,I remember the Jackson 5 debut in 1969 they were BIG.
In 1973 I was living in Naples Florida.In my congregation,the En***s family took a Summer JW convention to California and on return the youngest son Paul said that he saw Michael Jackson get baptized at the JW assembly,most of us scoffed that he had made it up.
Upon MJ new rise in the 1980's I am now living in Boston Mass and pick up a Sunday of the Boston Globe and there is MJ on front cover reading from the JW New World Translation.
A lot of my dysfunctional life is directly related to my apocalyptic Watchtower upbringing indoctrination and I wonder about same with Michael Jackson?
Best regards,Danny Haszard
written by jam, July 02, 2009
around the mid 80,s Michael sat two rows behind my family at the district assembly in L.A. CA..Guards were posted to stop the young people from entering
his area..My kids did not hear a single word of the talks given that day. His
sister or siste-in-law was baptize that day.
I felt sadness for Michael, a life as a child star (and what has happen too so many child stars) and raised a JW..Just think if Joe his dad had become a JW , its possible there would had never been a Michael Jackson.