Aim: To investigate whether celebrities are truly turning to religion to raise their spirits or to raise their profiles. Celebrities and Religion
Starter • Can you name any famous person who is religious? Merits for anyone who can name the most.
Celebrities and Religion • The rich and famous are people, too, and they wonder about the meaning of life just like everyone else. Most celebrities possess everything that is traditionally thought to bring happiness — beauty, success, money, power — yet many find themselves asking, "Is this all?" Celebrities are infamous for gravitating towards some of the more "different" religious paths, yet many have also chosen various traditional organized religions and others have developed a set of beliefs that transcend any one religion.
The Fabulous Life Of Celebrity Religion • In Hollywood, there are two kinds of celebrity worship. One that celebrates the star, and one that praises a higher power. Stars love to indulge in their spiritual sides and spend lots of money in the process. From diamond-studded crosses to 5-star luxury pilgrimages, a-listers have made godliness fabulous.
5) Christianity Every devout person needs a house of worship, but if you're rap star Kanye West you never need to leave your own home. He turned his mansion into a church when he commissioned an artist to recreate Michelangelo's Sistine chapel for over $350,000.
Mr & Mrs Beckham But that wasn't enough for Victoria and David Beckham, because these doting parents reportedly built a $192,000 chapel on their estate for sons Brooklyn and Romeo's baptisms.
Jesus Jewellery = £ Millions • Kanye is not only sporting this bling-bling Messiah thing, he teamed up with Jacob the Jeweler on the design and marketing as well. The 24-karat gold Christly charm is diamond-encrusted and crying ruby tears. Kanye's official quote on the topic is that "these are works of art, not sacrilege. I'm an artist, I like jewelry, and I'm a Christian, so it works out.“ • On Kanye's track "Jesus Walks" (from his debut album College Dropout), he rhymes:"We rappers are role models we rap we don't thinkI ain't here to argue about his facial featuresOr here to convert atheists into believersI'm just trying to say the way school need teachersThe way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way y'all need Jesus"
Will this tattoo make Becks a saint? Guardian Angel – this is how Beckham has described the figure with arms outstretched that sits between his shoulder blades. This tattoo was later expanded to include larger wings. Winged Cross - Beckham was in the midst of the 2004 UEFA Championships when he had his UKtattooist, Louis Malloy, flown in to do this piece of artwork on the back of his neck.
4) Judaism More recent Hollywood conversions have included some that are almost archaically conventional. The days when people had to change religion to match their partner's might have been thought to be over, but Isla Fisher has spent years on the preliminary studies required for Jewish conversion in order to marry Sacha Baron Cohen.
It was reported that Leonardo di Caprio will reportedly undertake the same arduous training to marry his Israeli girlfriend. And last year, having long since dropped out of Kabbala, Lindsay Lohan posted her intention to convert to Judaism. Her plan, by contrast, is pure Hollywood. Her girlfriend is Jewish and Lohan said that she had become close to her family and was attracted to their beliefs.
3) Buddhism • Richard Gere, raised a Methodist, is perhaps Hollywood's best-known Buddhist, adhering to a disciplined schedule of meditation that does not, in fact, suggest his religious choice is an easy option. In the process he has also committed himself to the Tibetan cause, visiting the Dalai Lama in northern India several times a year and lobbying ceaselessly at home on his behalf.
Celebrity Buddhists abound: Orlando Bloom, Keanu Reeves, Kate Hudson, J-Lo, Uma Thurman, Tina Turner and Sharon Stone and Oliver Stone, are among the many who have declared themselves to be fans of shedding all desire.
2) Kabbala And Madonna? She's thrown down nearly $30 million to build Kabbalah centres around the globe.
Previously Madonna was Catholic. “Like a Prayer” was her 5th number one. The video attracted criticism for its subplot of Madonna making love to Saint Martin de Porres - which some perceived as being a black version of Christ, its use of Catholic iconography, including a scene where Madonna developed stigmata, and cross burning imagery, but also garnered praise for its interpretation on discrimination, rape and faith.
1) Scientology Tom Cruise is clearly a man interested in spiritual things: he considered a career as a Catholic priest before pursuing an acting career and is now perhaps the most outspoken A List celebrity on his religion. Recently, Tom Cruise has become infamous for his outspoken commitment to Scientology, his controversial condemnations of psychiatry, and his surprisingly overt declarations of love for his new wife, Katie Holmes.
Recruitment and endorsements by Scientologist celebrities have always been very important to the Church of Scientology. Scientology actively recruits celebrities to promote Scientology to the public at large. Scientology has had a written program governing celebrity recruitment since at least 1955, offering rewards to Scientologists who recruited targeted celebrities. A Scientology policy letter of 1976 states that "rehabilitation of celebrities who are just beyond or just approaching their prime" enables the "rapid dissemination" of Scientology.Examples here – Will Smith, Lisa Marie Presley, John Travolta, Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson.)
Conclusion The explanation for this religious frailty may lie in the nature of acting as much as the shared characteristics of people who do it. Actors, it is often noted, are generally insecure. But that's inevitable, surely, given that even the famous ones don't know where the next job is coming from and the job depends not on experience or even a skill set, but on whether some guy in a suit thinks they're hot. They only have themselves to sell. They can see, moreover, that those selves are under constant scrutiny; whole magazines are devoted to passing on glimpses of their cellulite, signs of marital breakdown or evidence of creeping insanity. Apparently, everyone is looking at the stars, all the time. Not that they find that a negative thing, necessarily. Not at all. They didn't get into this business, most of them, in order to stay anonymous. Or to be poor. Or to make nice, necessarily. And the new religions don't expect them to.
Celebritology? • But what about our devotion to the cult of superstardom? The bones of a pretty sophisticated belief system are already firmly in place: a galaxy of stars (gods) to rival those populating Mt. Olympus, regular opportunities to worship (via TV, cinemas, music), fanatical devotion (Hello/OK magazines etc), sacred texts (any autobiography) and prophets – Brad and Angelina?
Plenary/Homework • In pairs write a script for an interview between an A List celebrity (real or imaginary) discussing their faith. • Show how they demonstrate their faith • What symbols do they have e.g. jewellery etc • Why their faith is important to them • What are they hoping to get out of that religion? • Are they genuinely interested or just following the “in” crowd?