The Worship of Bob Dylan

The Worship of Bob Dylan

In the article, “Dylan has the Answers,” by John Clarke for The New Yorker, 4 September 2013(, a small group of the Twelve Tribes religious movement is discussed worshipping music legend Bob Dylan. The hippie-looking Twelve Tribes members are travelling to and from Dylan’s concerts in the “Peacemaker,” a large double-decker bus[1]. At the concerts, the article states, they hand out a “twenty-four-page booklet titled ‘Dylan: What Are You Thinking?’”[2]

It is no surprise that the Twelve Tribes are attempting to recruit followers, and as Clarke writes, “the Twelve Tribes is a cult that actively recruits at concert venues by preying on the heavily inebriated and highly vulnerable—basically, stoned kids.”[3] As James T. Richardson points out, recruiting young people is nothing short of new, especially for new religious movements, whom “have a reputation for being something of a Pied Piper, attracting your people and “stealing” them their families in order to have them follow some heretofore unknown guru.”[4] The guru in this case is Bob Dylan, but as Richardson continues to write, recruitment is a financially motivated as well, as many religious movements require a fee or offer expensive courses for their new follows to spend money on.[5] This has come down to parents and mental health professionals believing in the use of brainwashing as a reason behind converting.[6] However, it seems that for “‘Rose,’ a lost teen who wandered around the country until she met and married a man who loved Dylan as much as she did,”[7] the Twelve Tribes seems to have given her some direction.

I believe that this article shows an excellent demonstration of young adults being influenced and becoming attracted to religions that seem perfect on the outside but may have more self-interested issues deeper down. For movements like the Twelve Tribe whom seek young adults who are directionless like Rose, but could potentially be a financial gain, concerts make perfect recruitment centres. For young adults and teenagers, being enamoured and taken in by groups and individuals who share the same interests is relatively easy. Furthermore, when teenagers feel purposeless, having someone show them the deeper meanings in life, or in this case, Bob Dylan’s lyrics, they are more likely to be devoted to it, which is ultimately what the Twelve Tribe members are capitalizing on at these concerts.

Searching for the deeper, prophetic meanings in his music, the Twelve Tribe members will continue to tour alongside Bob Dylan and continue their recruitment to the sounds of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” in the background.

acd #uwreligions


Richardson, James T. New Religious Movements. Edited by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Clarke, John. “Dylan has the Answers.” The New Yorker, September 4, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015.

[1] John Clarke, “Dylan has the Answers,” The New Yorker, September 4, 2013, accessed February 20, 2015,

[2] John Clarke, “Dylan has the Answers.”

[3] Ibid.

[4] James T. Richardson, New Religious Movements, ed. by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 53.

[5] Richardson, New Religious Movements, 50.

[6] Richardson, New Religious Movements, 46.

[7] John Clarke, “Dylan has the Answers.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s