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Chris Pratt, Demi Lovato and 7 Other Celebrities Who Are Openly Religious
Read on to find out which late night host, rap superstar and TV show-runner have opened up about their religious beliefs and practices.
When it comes to faith, over three quarters of Americans polled by Gallup said they identified with a specific religion — and some of our favorite celebrities clearly fall within those statistics. Whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu, these high-profile figures have been frank about the role faith plays in their lives. With the help of psychologist Josh Gressel, Ph.D., we look at what some of Hollywood's most openly religious celebrities have to say about their beliefs.
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1. Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik is candid about her Jewish faith, saying it's not exactly cool in Hollywood. “I think in general it’s never going to be trendy to be observant or religious in Hollywood circles,” the “Big Bang Theory” actress told The Hollywood Reporter. “There are people I know of faith, and we tend to congregate together... That’s something really positive to me, when you’re a person of faith.” Multiple studies have shown how close congregations are beneficial to people's health and happiness — according to Dr. Gressel, practicing religion often provides a built-in social network of people with similar values. Friends who pray together, stay together.
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2. Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling confirmed she is Hindu during a live chat with Jezebel. On Kaling's show "The Mindy Project," the 39-year-old writer, actor and show runner wanted to explore her identity — and faith — in a natural way. “I try not to rely on or deny the fact that I’m Indian,” she said during an interview with the Paley Center for Media. “I’m Hindu, but I don’t really know that much about my religion. And it comes up in the show sometimes, but as much as it organically would.”
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3. Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle converted to Islam several years ago, and told Time it's what keeps him grounded amidst the stress of his career. "I don't normally talk about my religion publicly because I don't want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing," Chappelle explained. "I want to be well rounded and the industry is a place of extremes." According to Dr. Gressel, fame and religion are polar opposites, with celebrity culture often focusing on wealth and beauty, while religion deals with internal values. Those internal values are what help people like Chapelle stay anchored in potentially toxic environments.
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4. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt says his life as a Christian was sparked by a mysterious encounter with a stranger that occurred when Pratt was an aspiring 20-year-old actor living out of a van. According to the star, he was approached by a man named Henry, who was convinced Pratt needed to be saved. "He said, ‘Jesus told me to talk to you. At that moment I was like, ‘I think I have to go with this guy.’ He took me to church. Over the next few days I surprised my friends by declaring that I was going to change my life.” Since becoming one of Hollywood’s most in-demand action stars, Pratt has spoken multiple times about his faith, including during his acceptance speech at the 2018 MTV Awards.
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5. Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi has a seven-inch scar on her right arm, the result of a serious childhood car accident that happened when she and her mother were driving home from a Hindu temple in Malibu. During an interview with The Guardian, the 47-year-old television host, actress and writer explained how the accident changed the way she felt about religion. “I was very angry for a while after the accident. I couldn’t understand why it had happened to me. For a while I became an atheist,” she said. “Now that I’m grown up, though, I’m not hard-edged enough to be an atheist... I love going to temple. I love all the rituals.”
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6. Kanye West
Kanye West has expressed his feelings about Christianity through music. In one of the rapper's first hits “Jesus Walks,” West grapples with his relationship to God, and described his seventh album “The Life of Pablo” as “a gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it.” According to Dr. Gressel, turning to religion can help us come to terms with the ways in which we are not in control. “Spirituality is based on that premise, that something far greater is in charge of us,” he says. “So in times of crisis, you’re able to see the spiritual meaning of having to go through what you have to go through, no matter how hard it is, because there is a larger purpose to it.”
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7. Stephen Colbert
“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert believes there is misunderstanding on both sides when it comes to Hollywood and religion. “When we church people talk about Hollywood and the media, we often talk in disparaging terms,” he said during an interview with Father Thomas Rosica, the CEO of Salt and Light Television. “But there are some outstanding people who are strong in faith. It gives us pause that we often write off people because of their fame.” Being religious doesn't mean the 54-year-old comedian is afraid to poke fun of the Catholic church: “If we love something we can make fun of it,” he said. “We need to see the divine sense of humor in some things.”
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8. Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom's Buddhist faith gives him valuable perspective when facing hardship and stress. “When your girlfriend dumps you, when the bill comes through the door, and your mom calls you and tells you she can’t handle the stuff in her life — that’s hell, but that’s just one world," he told Details magazine back in 2007. "If you are aware of what is going on, then you can grow and use that hunger, that fear.” According to Dr. Gressel, faith can provide an inner compass in times of confusion: "When you make your life choices based on inner, spiritual values versus external material values, you’re going to end up in a happier, more fulfilled place."
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9. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato has long been vocal about her Christian faith. In Lovato's 2013 autobiography, “Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year,” the 25-year-old singer said, "No matter how old you are, where you come from, your race or religion, it is vital to have a higher power — something bigger than yourself that you can turn to for comfort. For me, it’s God, but for you, it can be anything you believe in.” In an interview with Arianna Huffington for The Thrive Global Podcast, Lovato discussed her relationship with God in more depth. “To me, God is something that is bigger than myself, bigger than all of us, and God is somebody that I pray to in times of need and someone that shows me that life has a bigger purpose than just the material things in life.”