Do Republicans Know “Hallelujah” Is About Sex?

Leonard Cohen was a Canadian Jew.

Everett Collection/Shutterstock

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As fireworks lit up the sky over the White House following Donald Trump’s acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination, speakers blasted two separate renditions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” But the song isn’t the Christian hymn Republicans seem to think it is.

A Canadian Jew and practitioner of Zen Buddhism, Leonard Cohen wrote such wholesome tunes as “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On.” If you listen to the lyrics of “Hallelujah,” which Cohen released in 1984 and which Jeff Buckley popularized with an orgiastic rendition 10 years later, you’ll notice that the song is less an exaltation of God than a cynical rumination on more secular matters. Now, tell me this verse isn’t about sex:

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you
and the holy dove was moving too
and every breath we drew was hallelujah.

None of this mattered to Trump fans.

It’s all pretty ironic, given how frigid Republicans tend to be when it comes to sex: no free birth control, no sex ed, no dining with any women other than your wife, no cuckolding. The RNC featured several conservative Christian speakers, so let me reiterate: Leonard Cohen was Jewish.

Cohen conveniently died one day before Trump was elected president in 2016, but I think it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have sported a MAGA hat.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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