Niel Young was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and grew up there, in Omemee, Ontario, Canada and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Young presumably had little to no religious upbringing. However, being Canadian and all, it’s safe to assume there was some Christian influence there.
Now, Young is disenchanted with organized religion and is easily classifiable as a pantheist. He said:
I’m not into organized religion. I’m into believing in a higher source of creation, realizing we’re all just part of nature.
Young expanded on his views during an interview with journalist Charlie Rose–for which he took some criticism. Young spoke about how his having a brain aneurysm gave him more “faith,” though in what he didn’t know–just faith in something greater than himself and humanity. He outlined his theory that all religions are essentially the same thing, but through slightly different expressions. And he reinforced his pantheistic views, expressing a reverence for nature.
His acceptance of all religions equally hasn’t stopped Young from criticizing the religiously powerful, like the Bush administration, of which he said was too heavily influenced by Christianity.
Young came up through the ranks of the musical elite in the highly politicized 1960s. And many of his songs back then were anti-war, anti-establishment, and pro-peace 'n love. Really, not much has changed. Some of his most poignant political lyrics from back in the day include the song “Ohio,” where Young sings about the 1970 Kent State shootings, saying:
Tin soldiers and Nixon coming/We’re finally on our own/This summer I hear the drumming/Four dead in Ohio.
During the Bush years, Young stopped mincing words and released the song, “Let’s Impeach The President,” singing:
Let’s impeach the President for lying/And misleading our country into war/Abusing all the power that we gave him/And shipping all our money out the door.
Through and through, Young has proved himself to be one of the most political singer/songwriters in popular music. And the running theme is freedom, so it’s no surprise that Young calls himself a libertarian. That’s why so many were shocked when Young responded in favor of the war in Afghanistan and in favor of Republican George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks, saying:
We can’t forget what brought us together and what we’re living for, what makes us who we are, even though to protect freedom it seems that we’re going to have to relinquish some of our freedoms for a short period of time.
But he obviously came around by the time “Let’s Impeach the President” came out in 2006.