Elvis Presley died 40 years ago this week. As we look back on the King of Rock ‘n Roll, it is a good time to consider his faith. Charles Hughes, a writer on the history of Southern Gospel, has looked closely into Elvis’ past. In his search for answers about his faith, Hughes has made an unexpected discovery. He has found Elvis’ personal Bible – and the notes he wrote in the margins. He has discovered an Elvis many did not know.
“Throughout his career he kept returning to Gospel music,” writes Hughes. “He was always singing Gospel songs, recording Gospel records, and incorporating in his live shows performance techniques that he would have gotten from the church.”
Joe Moscheo, a member of The Imperials, who traveled with Elvis, wrote a book called The Gospel Side of Elvis. He wrote of an Elvis who would often gather other singers into his hotel room and sing Gospel songs for hours at a time. “That’s what he wanted to do. It was like there were two parts. There was Elvis the superstar and he went out onstage in his jumpsuits and then he came offstage and he was Elvis Presley from Tupelo, Mississippi, that was brought up in the church and wanted to sing Gospel music,” he said.
The last time Moscheo saw Elvis, he gave him a Bible. When asked if he thought Elvis was a Christian, Moscheo said, “I believe that he was. He had demons. I mean, he had problems. But, from all indications and just being around him in these intimate settings, I really feel that he was a Christian.”
And here’s where it gets interesting.
Hughes has dug into Presley’s Bible – one given to him by his aunt and uncle on his first Christmas at Graceland in 1957. It was found at the Museum of the Bible. Given the opportunity to review it in private, Hughes thumbed through its pages and discovered several hand-written notes, by which Elvis expressed his true faith
Here are some examples.
Beside Psalm 11:1, he wrote, “In the Lord I place my trust and He will guide me.”
Psalm 43:3 is underlined with a note that reads, “Lord send me light to guide me.”
On page 670, in reference to Psalm 137:5-9, Elvis wrote, “Trust in the Lord, not man.”
Jotted under Psalm 81 are these words: “Sing the Lord’s praises.”
In reference to Psalm 149:3-6, he added, “The highest graces of music flow from the feelings of the heart-soul.”
And under Psalm 149, he wrote, “Sing for the glory of God.”
Was Elvis Presley a Christian? It appear so. Did he struggle with his faith? Certainly. That makes him a lot like most of us.