How religious are the famous? It may be that public perception does not actually coincide with reality. When people think of Oscar’s speeches, for example, they often imagine people thanking God, but he doesn’t get as much love. According to Vocativ , God is only the sixth most grateful individual, after Steven Spielberg, Harvey Weinstein, James Cameron, George Lucas, and Peter Jackson.
Across the country, the numbers of Protestants and Catholics have decreased significantly since 2009, according to the Pew Research Center . Most other religions are shrinking as well, so it would make sense for celebrities to also become less religious. But when it comes to the stars, the stakes are higher. When they buy a house, we find out. So what happens when they leave a religion?
Although not always advertised, many celebrities have clearly defined reasons to turn their back on their doctrine. Some were left out of loyalty, some conflicted with teachings or beliefs, and some may have been expelled. The people on this list were not only making inroads, as many were well-established members of their churches. We decided to explore some specific cases in greater detail. The following list looks at the real reason these celebrities left their church.
Leah Remini was too curious
Leah Remini’s relationship with Scientology is well documented. For three seasons, she was the host and co-creator of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath , a show that examined Scientology’s questionable practices. Since leaving church, the actress has registered on numerous occasions to criticize the system and even wrote a revealing book.
According to People , Remini found himself in the hot water for questioning the group’s leader, David Miscavige. She was then subjected to “intense personal interrogation” called “security checks.” For Remini, this was the drop that filled the glass. By Page Six , she had been hitting heads with leadership for years before her departure, allegedly questioning the process of excommunication of members. Former Scientologist chief spokesman Mike Rinder suggested that Remini was also scolded for asking about Shelly Miscavige, who has not been seen in public since 2007, at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ wedding.
After more than 30 years of service, Remini left Scientology. “I think people should be able to question things,” he said. People . “I think people should value family and friends and keep things sacrosanct. That to me, that’s what I’m doing. It wouldn’t matter what it was, simply because no one will tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can and who I can’t talk to.
Not too excited about Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was a devoted Jehovah’s Witness and had been committed to the system since he was five years old. He conducted “door-to-door testimony” in the early 1980s, as revealed by the Los Angeles Times , often wearing a costume to conceal his identity as one of the world’s biggest stars. But Jackson’s fame and faith collided in 1983 with the release of his album, Thriller . For Jehovah’s Witnesses, much of the album’s content was questionable, but the video for the title track, “Thriller,” was the most damaging. In the groundbreaking music video, Jackson turns into a werewolf and dances with zombies.
As a result, Jackson was threatened with expulsion, so he rejected the content of the video. “Now I realize it was not a good idea,” he said in the sect’s magazine. Awake! (via The New York Times ) “I’ll never make a video like that again … I don’t want to do anything in ‘Thriller'”. Jackson even added a video disclaimer, stating: “Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to emphasize that this film in no way supports belief in the occult.”
Despite his efforts, the situation worsened. According to The New York Times , an “MJ Cult” developed among Witnesses. Leaders condemned the cult of celebrities and called for the destruction of harmful materials. The crack was never repaired. In 1987, Jackson told his congregation that “he no longer wants to be known as a Jehovah’s Witness,” according to the Los Angeles Times .
Anne Hathaway is ‘a work in progress’
Anne Hathaway had a devout Catholic education. Speaking to The Independent , she described that her faith even seeped into her professional aspirations. “When I was younger I thought about being a nun for a while” The last thing the actress wanted reflected. You know what it’s like when you grow up and you’re going to be many different things, but I really wanted to be an actress before I was a nun. The nun was more of a sidebar thing. »
It’s only when her older brother Michael came out as gay when she was a teenager that the church’s outdated views on same-sex relationships were awkwardly highlighted. When asked about his current religious status in an interview with the British GQ Hathaway he seemed in conflict. “Well, the whole family became Episcopal after my older brother came out,” he said. Why should I support an organization that has a limited vision of my dear brother? “Then he added:” So I am … nothing. Damn, I’m training. I am a work in progress ».
Although Christopher Reeves never became an official member of the Church of Scientology, he was interested in joining its ranks for a time. According to his book, Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life , the actor was first drawn to Scientology in 1975 when he came across an ad for a free personality test. He took the exam and started the training, drawn to the basic principles of the church and the movement.
However, it was during the training process that Reeves lost faith in Scientology, its methods, and its staff. In his book, he details an audit in which he was told to describe a past life, all the time connected to an E-Meter, a kind of true detector. During the audit, Reeves described his past life story as a Greek warrior returning from the war. He had promised his father that his ship would put on the white sails of victory on his return, but the situation and forgetfulness caused him to abandon the black sails by mistake. Seeing the black sails, his father leapt to his death in the water below.
The inspiring memory enabled the Reeves auditor to make connections between his past life and his current life, specifically in the context of his relationship with his father. The problem was, the story was not a memory of Reeves’ past life. It was an account of the history of Theseus and Aegean from Greek mythology. He chose not to join.
Brad Pitt’s education was full of ‘Christian guilt’
Brad Pitt has had several religious changes of heart over the years. In 2007, Parade told him (via People ) he was attracted by contrasting ideologies. “I would go to Christian revivals and I would be moved by the Holy Spirit, I would go to rock concerts and I would feel the same fervor,” he said. “I wanted to experience things that religion said not to experience.” Four years later, he seemed more resentful. “I was raised when I was told that things were God’s way, and when things didn’t work, it was called God’s plan,” she told reporters at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Extra ) “I have my problems with that. … I found it very suffocating ».
In 2015, identifying himself as an atheist, Pitt revealed to The Telegraph that his education was filled with “Christian guilt for what you can and cannot [do]” .However, by 2019, his views had softened. “I cling to religion,” he told GQ . “I grew up with Christianity. I always questioned it, but sometimes it worked. Then he explained: «I tried some spiritual things but I did not feel well. Then I called myself an atheist for a while, just kind of rebellious. I really wasn’t … I felt punk rock enough. And then I found myself believing again: I hate using the word spirituality, but I think we are all connected.
Ja Rule is a loyal son
Ja Rule’s family were devoted Jehovah’s Witnesses, but her mother was later expelled from the organization. “When you are expelled, it is as if you were expelled,” he said in a VladTV interview. “No one is allowed to speak to you.” Speaking at The Breakfast Club , the rapper explained that the strict expulsion rules bothered him as a young man. “It seemed pretty strange to me,” he said. “I was living with my grandmother at the time. My mother caught me on the weekends and things like that. And then they said, ‘You won’t be able to go to your mother on the weekends anymore.’ ”
According to Ja Rule, he was unwilling to abandon his mother. I didn’t understand it that way. And I thought, ‘Well, that’s not going to fly, and I’m leaving here to live with my mother,’ “he said. “Now we were a bit like the black sheep … No one was dealing with my mother, and that was crazy.” So the rapper and his mother left the sect, and a wedge was inserted between them and the family.
It wasn’t until the 90s when their career took off that they got together. “Ironically, when I blew up and started making money and became Ja Rule, everyone could come and talk to my mother,” he said, adding that circumstances did not matter. “I was happy to see my mothers [sic] happy again to have their family … back in their life.”
Gabriel Byrne thinks that “the Catholic Church is a force for evil”
When Gabriel Byrne was 11 years old, he joined the seminary training, aiming for a life of priesthood. About five years later, however, the actor went to London on a break and found that his love for the opposite sex was too strong to ignore. “We got on the bus and I went up the stairs after two girls in miniskirts,” she described to The Guardian . That was the end for me. However, while this monumental moment may have inspired him to leave the seminary, it was a traumatic experience that left deeper scars.
“Unfortunately, I did experience some sexual abuse,” the Hereditary star revealed. “It took me many years to accept it and forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.” Byrne looks back and wonders how much it affected him as a man. “I didn’t think it would affect me severely at the time,” he began. “But when I think about my later life and how I struggled with certain problems, there is a real possibility that they might have been attributable to that.” «
Now, as a father, Byrne is in no rush to introduce his children to church. “I never discussed religion with them. As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t do me any good, ”he said in an interview with The Irish Times . “I have come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is a force for evil.”
I hate Proposition 8
In 2008, the controversial voting proposal known as Proposition 8 was passed in the California state election. The success of the proposal, which sought to ban same-sex marriages, was largely led by support from churches in the state. Of those who supported the proposal was a staff member of the San Diego Church of Scientology chapter. This caused Academy Award winner and Scientologist Paul Haggis to write to the Church of Scientology International’s chief spokesman, Tommy Davis.
According to The New Yorker , Haggis wrote to Davis for ten months and finally sent a final letter on August 19, 2009. “I have been writing to ask him to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego.” Adding that “public sponsorship of Proposition 8, which managed to take away the civil rights of California’s gay and lesbian citizens, rights granted to them by the Supreme Court of our state, is a stain on the integrity of our organization and a stain on us personally. Our public association with that hate-filled legislation embarrasses us. ”
Since the celebrity received no communication from Davis or the Church, he signed his final letter with: “Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent. I hereby renounce my membership in the Church of Scientology. ”
Moving away from conversion therapy
While Miley Cyrus’ views on religion and spirituality may be far from defined, the singer is no longer a member of the church, something that changed when she was young. “I was raised going to church as a believer, and that was a very important part of my life,” Cyrus said on his live show, Bright-minded. “And somehow I got off that path because I think it was hard for me to find a relationship with God that worked for me as an adult.”
He then went on to explain why exactly he walked away from the church in the first place. “I also grew up in the Tennessee church at one point in the 1990s, so it was a less accepting moment with all of that,” Cyrus told his guest, Hailey Bieber. “I had some gay friends at school, that’s why I left my church. They were not accepted. They were sent to conversion therapy. And I had a very difficult time with that and I had a difficult moment. time with me finding my sexuality too «. Cyrus went on to explain that if she could successfully find her own relationship with God as an adult, she would be far less removed from the idea of religion.
Michelle Rodríguez is afraid of the mysterious
Growing up in a very religious family, Michelle Rodríguez discovered that her relationship with religion made her become a stranger. “I was a Jehovah’s Witness from the age of seven and my family was very strict,” he said in an interview with The Daily Mail . “I went to church every day and knocked on people’s doors with my grandmother trying to save their souls.”
But their religion also shaped their unique worldview. Speaking to Interview , she said that the conflicting teachings of the church and the school led her to distrust the school system. “I was 10 or 11 years old, I went to church, I listened to adults stand on the podium talking about world affairs, history, war, and how the United States was founded,” he said. “Then I go to school, and they are teaching me just the opposite. I already knew from the church that this place was raped and looted by Spaniards and pilgrims ».
But his confidence in the church was finally shaken when he learned that the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Charles Taze Russell, had alleged links to the Freemasons. “That turned me off, because when something is mysterious, all you can do is be afraid of it,” Rodríguez explained. “Is he a Mason? Ugh. It must be evil! “I didn’t know much about it, so I was scared. Now I really admire those guys, they are quite talented. They founded a lot of the world we see today «.
George Clooney ‘learned discipline’ from his past
Every time George Clooney is asked about his religious past, he seems to remember it primarily with pride. “I was raised with everything, Catholic school, confession every week, everything,” Clooney said in an interview with The Catholic Herald . “You certainly learned discipline, and I grew up with a great sense of structure and respect,” he explained, adding that he even remembers being rowed with love. But his beliefs and commitment to the Catholic Church decreased as he grew older. I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God, “said Clooney The Washington Post . “All I know is that as an individual I will not allow this life, all I know to exist, to go to waste.”
In 2006, during an interview about Larry King Live Clooney spoke about his changing faith, while remaining diplomatic on the matter. I’ll tell you what’s so complicated about this. Speaking of religion, if you’re well known, anything you say annoys a lot of other people and attacks their beliefs, “he said cautiously. “So I always try to say that, first and foremost, I believe that whatever someone believes, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s fair enough and it works. And I think it’s real and it’s important. I don’t think they happen to have those beliefs that much. I do not believe in those things ” .
Katy Perry has ‘conditioned layers’ of her education
At one point, Katy Perry appeared destined for a gospel singing career. She traveled to Nashville as a young teenager to record an album, following in the footsteps of her musical hero, Amy Grant. “Amy Grant was our Madonna,” she said in a Moda interview about her childhood. “We knew about Madonna and Marilyn Manson in my family because we picketed at their concerts.” Perry’s childhood was dedicated to the church. “My house was church on Sunday morning, church on Sunday night, church on Wednesday night; you don’t celebrate Halloween; Jesus gives you your Christmas gifts; We see Bill O’Reilly on television. That was all my childhood and youth and early adolescence. I still have conditioned layers that fall off every day «.
As Perry grew older, she became separated from her education. In a 2013 interview with Marie Claire , the singer clarified her beliefs. “I don’t believe in heaven or hell or an old man sitting on a throne,” he explained, adding, “but I still feel like I have a deep connection to God.” Perry’s mother, on the other hand, was not so sure. “My mother has prayed for me all my life, hoping to return to God,” the singer told Vogue Australia . “I never quit, I was a little secular, I was more materialistic and more motivated by my career. But now that I’m 30, it’s more about the spirituality and integrity of the heart. ”