Kurt Cobain

The Religion and Political Views of Kurt Cobain



Cobain was confused religiously. He was, at one point, a born-again Christian, then he hated Christianity while following interests in Buddhism and Jainism.

Political Views

Cobain had a very liberal, anti-establishment attitude, but really no political convictions.


Kurt Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Washington and grew up in various places in the northwestern Washington area. He committed suicide in his Lake Washington home at the age of 27 in 1994.

Cobain's family and childhood life was tumultuous. His parents divorced when he was a seven year-old and it is said to have had a profound affect on him. He said:

I had a really good childhood… then a classic case of divorce really affected me.[1]

Throughout the rest of his childhood, Cobain divided his time between his mother and father and, when young Kurt became too much of a nuisance, his parents would occasionally send him to live with family friends. It was during one of these times, while living with a born-again Christian family, Cobain became a member and attended church services.[2] It is unclear which particular denomination of born-again Christianity Cobain attended.

This didn't last long, however, and Cobain developed a particular disdain for Christianity. It is reported that as a teenager, Cobain spray-painted phrases such as "God is Gay" and "Abort Christ" on church walls and was once accused by police of destroying a local church's crucifix.[3]

As a rock star, Cobain was often vocal about his anti-Christian, anti-organized religion views and inserted them into his songs. He sang, mocking the classic children's Christian song:

Jesus, don't want me for a sunbeam, sunbeams are not meant for me. Don't expect me to cry for all the reasons, you had to die. Don't ever ask your love of me.[4]

Cobain was, however, interested in eastern religions, particularly Buddhism and Jainism and, in honor of that, a Buddhist monk chanted at Cobain's funeral.[5] Furthermore, the name of his band, Nirvana, was inspired by the Buddhist principle of Enlightenment. Also, there is some evidence that Cobain believed, or maybe just hoped for, reincarnation. He said:

If you die you're completely happy and your soul somewhere lives on. I'm not afraid of dying. Total peace after death, becoming someone else is the best hope I've got.[6]

Cobain's spiritual beliefs are difficult to nail down. He was certainly a tortured soul who turned to drugs and suicide for relief. But he might have turned to these religions for some sort of solace as well. Only those who knew him closely could say.

Nevermind politics

Cobain wasn't really into establishment politics. He probably couldn't care less about candidates peddling one ideology or another. He and his music were constructed to stand in stark contrast with the boring, money-driven, status quo of the 80s. He did, however, express frustration that he and his generation seemed to not care–even though that was their big selling point. He said:

My generation's apathy. I'm disgusted with it. I'm disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years.[7]

Though that fact that he thought it was necessary to stand up for things the "counterculture" had deemed important indicates liberal leanings. There is more evidence for that considering his stance on homosexuality.

As a teenager, Cobain was thought to be gay by his high school classmates and didn't refute them. As he says:

I started to be really proud of the fact I was gay even though I wasn't.[8]

You could imagine that, between the punk-rock, anti-establishment, "Come As You Are," drugs-are-great sort of attitude projected by Cobain, he was quite liberal indeed. But let's be frank. He died at the tender age of 27, a victim of mind-crushing drug use, the pawn of corporate tycoons, adored, hated, and mostly concerned with getting high and playing music. He probably didn't have all that much perspective on anything but what he wrote about–self doubt and uncertainty. Not much room for any sort of political or social convictions.

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