The British public took the comment as what is was: An opinion voiced by an artist known as much for his hummingbird mind as for his considerable talent. In July, however, an American teen magazine called Datebook quoted the infamous Jesus statement without reprinting the original article. It appeared as part of a cover story called "The Ten Adults You Dig/Hate the Most."
The American reaction was instantaneous. Radio stations across the country, but especially in the South and in the Midwest, stopped playing Beatles records. Death threats began pouring in, directed against not only John, but the other Beatles as well. Bonfires appeared, with Beatles pictures and albums providing the fuel. Maureen Cleave tried to explain that "John was certainly not comparing the Beatles with Christ. He was simply observing that so weak was the state of Christianity that the Beatles were, to many people, better known. He was deploring, rather than approving, this," but to no avail.