George Roger Waters, better-known as Roger Waters, was born in Great Bookham, Surrey, England and grew up in Cambridge, England.
Waters’ father was an interesting fellow. Not only was he a devout Christian, a member of the Anglican/Episcopalian Church of England, he was a pacifist, Labour Party activist, and communist who decided to put aside his pacifism and fight for England in World War II, where he died in Italy when Roger was only four months old.
Though Waters never really knew his father, it would seem that much of the choices and attitudes Roger would adopt later were reminiscent of him somehow. Pink Floyd’s music as well as Waters’ solo material is rife with religious and political themes.
However, Waters himself seems to have taken much of his father’s life and gone the opposite direction. Rather than adhering to Christianity, Waters criticizes society for falling for religion, saying:
I’m not a practicing Christian myself, but it just staggers me that people who claim to be can stand up and spout–like your president George Bush–can stand up and spout this bullshit [about God supporting one side over another in war], which is why I wrote the lyrics of the song [“What God Wants”]: “God wants crusade/God wants Jihad.” Well it may well be that God doesn’t want either of those things. They’re manifestations of the insecurities of the Muslim and Christian communities.
Waters sees religion in the grand social scheme of things in a rather nuanced light, and acknowledges that answers are hard to come by and that life is ultimately about personal happiness, saying:
I think that happiness resides somewhere between the extremes of personal, religious, and political. I think happiness resides where we understand someone else’s point of view and needs. Happiness resides where we are not lost in the solitary dream.
But he also comes right out with it, labeling himself a “radical atheist,” and going to great lengths to illustrate how religion perpetuates total nonsense to a long-suffering French cook in this video.
Waters is very active politically. As previously mentioned, so was his father.
Waters’ political activism, at least the bits of it that are publicized, seems to revolve around the environment and Israel. His position on both these issues would make the conservative right in America cringe, which is why he would easily be classified as liberal. He has said of American politics:
I watch the workings of politics [in the US] and particularly the Republican Party. They work with the axiom that you can tell as many lies as you want – and often the bigger the better – and eventually they will believed.
His position on Israel is basically that the Jewish country is aggressive and oppressive, particularly towards its Palestinian neighbors, and even more particularly in the Gaza strip. Waters has participated in boycotts of Israel over their “siege” of the Gaza strip and cancelled a performance in Tel Aviv, preferring to play in the town of Neve Shalom, a city founded by cooperative Jews and Arabs.
Regarding the environment, Waters has made his case at his live concerts time and again. He said during the Bush administration–who refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, which would have committed the U.S. to reducing greenhouse emmissions over a period of time:
This problem will not be solved until we the electorates make it quite clear to candidates running for office that we will not vote for them unless they have a clear policy on the environment and global warming in particular. And also we will not vote for them if they have a track record like this current administration does.
He’s a rock star that cares.