Celebrities speak on faith: How religion affects Hollywood careers of Chris Pratt, Mark Wahlberg and more
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Religion and faith have played a part in shaping the careers of many Hollywood stars. Chris Pratt, Carrie Underwood, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson and Hailey Bieber are among those who keep their beliefs at the forefront of their actions.
Chris Pratt recently addressed his religious views after being accused of attending the celebrity sanctuary, Hillsong Church, which has faced anti-LGBTQ+ controversies, in addition to a host of misconduct allegations through the years.
“Religion has been oppressive as f–k for a long time,” he said during an interview with Men’s Health in June. “I didn’t know that I would kind of become the face of religion when really I’m not a religious person.”
“I think there’s a distinction between being religious — adhering to the customs created by man, oftentimes appropriating the awe reserved for who I believe is a very real God — and using it to control people, to take money from people, to abuse children, to steal land, to justify hatred. Whatever it is. The evil that’s in the heart of every single man has glommed onto the back of religion and come along for the ride.”
He also denied any affiliation with the global group, which has dozens of churches across the world and has seen many stars in and out of its doors, including a few of the Kardashian family members, Justin Bieber, Hailey Bieber and former pastor Carl Lentz who presided over the Biebers’ wedding in September 2018.
At the 2018 MTV Music and TV Awards, Pratt took the stage to accept the Generation Award and addressed the younger generation in a speech called “Nine Rules from Chris Pratt.”
“God is real. God loves, you, God wants the best for you,” he said. “Believe that. I do.”
“Nobody is perfect. People are going to tell you you’re perfect just the way you are — you’re not. You’re imperfect,” he said.
“You always will be. But, there is a powerful force that designed you that way. And if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. And like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood. Don’t forget it. Don’t take it for granted,” he said, to applause from the crowd.
The “Jurassic Park: Dominion” star welcomed daughter Eloise Christina Schwarzenegger Pratt with his wife in May. The couple welcomed their first daughter, Lyla Maria, in August 2020. Pratt shares his son, Jack, with his ex-wife Anna Faris.
Entertainment expert, Dan Wakeford, told Fox News Digital that Hollywood stars connect with America through their discussions of faith.
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“When stars talk about faith in America it often helps connect them to a wider audience. Connectivity is about relatability, and if a celebrity has the same belief system as you, it makes you feel like you know them better and they are like you, have the same values and they understand you,” he said. “This can help open up millions of new fans and increase your visibility and therefore your success.”
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He added: “Conversely, if you don’t have the same beliefs as the star who is talking about their faith, then it can be alienating. This is especially so if a star’s faith involves a religion that is more extreme and practiced by less people.”
Country star Carrie Underwood and husband Mike Fisher openly discussed a few of their marriage struggles while under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic during a four-part series called “Mike and Carrie: God & Country.”
“We just differ drastically,” Underwood said. “We learn from each other, and we have spirited discussions about things that we disagree on. But at the end of the day, we love each other very much.”
Fisher added: “That’s where our faith comes in, I think it gives us a center ground where that’s the most important thing in anything. And then, your differences, if they’re rooted in that, I know your heart, you know my heart, there’s always a way, and it always is God working in it.”
The former “American Idol” winner released her first gospel album last year, “My Savior,” a 13-track catalog of songs dedicated to the ministry. “This album is one that I have always wanted to make,” she told Country Living. “This is legacy stuff to me.”
Underwood barely took a day off from work in the studio and released her ninth album on Sunday, “Denim & Rhinestones.”
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Award-winning actors Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson spoke to “The Ingraham Angle” about their film “Father Stu” earlier this year, and the impact of finding faith through redemption.
Both Gibson, star of feature films like “The Patriot,” “The Passion of the Christ” and “Braveheart,” and Wahlberg, of “Lone Survivor” and “Invincible,” said making the movie reminded them of the importance of convictions and beliefs.
“Having gratitude as a whole is really important, but I think everybody’s having lots of difficulties,” Wahlberg said. “It’s in all those difficulties, when I focused on my faith, I was able to endure, and good things started to happen. Everything seemed to make sense.”
He added: “It certainly made it easier and gave me a lot of comfort. And people have been going through a lot. And I think the thing that people are all experiencing is that they’re reminded, you know, that they need to have faith and hope and that love will endure.”
Wahlberg explained in February to Fox Nation why “Father Stu” is needed now: “People need to have faith and hope. I just knew that I needed to make this movie, and this was my calling and this was my mission. And, now, it’s needed more than ever.”
“Hopefully, it will do some really important work and help a lot of people,” he continued. “It’s certainly a turning point for me in my life… I need to stop focusing so much on Mark and start doing much more work for God and for less fortunate people.”
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When asked about the film’s message to audiences, Wahlberg said it was simply about “not giving up.”
“God’s not going to give up on you,” the actor insisted. “Don’t you dare go giving up on yourself.”
For “Spy Kids” actress Alexa PenaVega and her husband, Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush” star Carlos PenaVega, following a Christian lifestyle outside of the bright lights of Hollywood was paramount for their family. After reflecting through prayer, they packed up and left Los Angeles for Hawaii with their three children.
Alexa PenaVega told Fox News Digital that they needed a complete “heart reset” and felt like “God was preparing” their family for the move to the islands.
“I was the one trapped in the entertainment world and needed to take a step back,” Alexa said. “My job became my identity. God pulled me out of that so I could learn how to be an awesome mom and an awesome wife. God helped us build that foundation in our family. And once I had that revelation, I felt at peace.”
She admitted it was “very important” for her to be open about her faith during her run on season 21 of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2015. Alexa and her pro partner Mark Ballas were eliminated in the seventh round, while her husband Carlos, who also competed in the same season, was eliminated the following week after competing with pro Witney Carson.
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“It’s so easy to want to hide that because you don’t want to be judged by what you believe. But this is my life,” she said. “My faith and my life are the same things. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re always preaching. But God is such a part of our lives that no matter what we do, our faith gets brought up. So it does get brought up. We happen to be people who love the word of God and are happy to share it.
In their new memoir, “What if Love is the Point? Living for Jesus in a Self-Consumed World,” the couple discusses more of the life-changing decision, their dedication to “sharing our testimony” of love in marriage, and why she got candid about her past eating disorder.
Chad Michael Murray told Fox News Digital in May that he’s turned down projects that didn’t align with his core values.
“I stick to the things I believe in,” Murray said. “Let’s just say a piece of material were to come across my desk, which has happened plenty of times over the last 22 years, that I don’t necessarily feel is what I believe or what I’m selling — then that’s not for me.”
“I don’t want to step in something that I don’t believe in any way because it’s going to destroy it for everybody else involved,” he added. “If you don’t fully love and embrace the character that you are inhabiting, it will show on screen. I always want to give the people that I’m working with and the people who are going to watch the movie, the most of me.”
Murray — who launched his career with “One Tree Hill” in 2003 after stints on “Gilmore Girls” and “Dawson’s Creek” — devotes time every day to reading the Bible. Murray met wife Sarah Roemer on the set of “Chosen” in 2014. By 2015, the two had married. They share two kids together.
“I get up every day and I put that spiritual armor on, read the Bible and do some devotionals and then get ready to go to work,” Murray said while speaking about his upcoming film with Bruce Willis and Jesse Metcalfe. “Fortress: Sniper’s Eye.”
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“I feel stronger and safer walking onto my sets every day knowing that I have God with me every day. Jesus is there with me every day,” he said before adding, “When you have that comfort that you just feel safe, you feel different, you feel the opportunity to handle more, your shoulders are bigger, you can carry more weight.”
Hailey Bieber detailed how important her Christian beliefs are in her marriage with Justin Bieber as she chatted with Yvonne Orji on a YouTube episode of “A Conversation With.”
“They ask me all the time, ‘What would you say is the biggest thing in your relationship? You guys are really happy,’” Bieber said. “And I’m like, ‘It’s our faith.’ It’s what we believe in. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t even be here. We wouldn’t even be together.”
The daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin also spoke about how sometimes she feels other Christian people judge her for modeling lingerie or bathing suits.
“I’ve met Christian people that are just super judgmental and made me feel like I’m a bad person because I don’t live my life the way they think I should live my life,” she explained. “And I felt weird about posting certain photos of myself or feeling like, ‘People in the church are gonna see this. Am I doing something wrong? Am I setting a bad example?’ And the reality is, no.”
Back in 2019, Bieber said her ultimate purpose is to “represent Jesus.”
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“Full House” star Candace Cameron Bure told Fox she’s proud of her Christian faith and believes the Bible is “truth” to her.
“My faith is really the foundation of who I am,” the actress explained. “It’s so important to me, and it’s always a part of me, whether it’s at home and privately, or when I’m reading the Bible in Bible study. But also at work, and the choices I make within work, and the companies I choose to work with and the projects that I choose to take on.”
She added: “I can always go back to the word of God and find the hope, the encouragement, the positivity, the trust that I know I have in Jesus. And so it never fails, even when life doesn’t go the way I want it to or had planned it to. I know that God’s in control of everything.
“I live by faith in everything, in everything that I do, and every aspect of my life. So it’s not just something that I rely on or is a crutch. I mean, it is genuinely who I am. How it helps me? It’s hard to say because it’s just a part of my being.”