Beliebe It or Not


The news that Justin Bieber is thought to have canceled his tour because he found Jesus is just bizarre enough that I had to look for more information on it. Obviously Bieber isn’t someone I generally care much about. Most of what I’ve heard about him makes him sound like kind of a smug jerk, but at the same time he was also someone who had fame thrust upon him without much warning, and we all know that can mess with a person. The church he’s currently involved with is known as Hillsong, a Pentecostal megachurch franchise started in Australia by Brian Houston, a former window cleaner (for a nosy parker, it’s an interesting job) who has been accused of covering up his father’s child molestation. Carl Lentz, the New York pastor and Bieber’s personal friend, is known for wearing designer hipster clothes, at least when he’s not walking around topless.

They’re said to be anti-abortion, pro-Creationism, and homophobic, although some sources suggest they’re easing up a bit on that last one. Also, Houston wrote a book called You Need More Money: Discovering God’s Amazing Financial Plan for Your Life, which definitely sounds like prosperity theology. They run a record label, and Bieber is not the only celebrity to attend their services. Apparently Bono has, which is weird as I thought he was Catholic. Anyway, there are a few things I find confusing. One is that I think conversion stories tend to be exaggerated. I’m not saying they aren’t intense personal experiences, just that I don’t think people make 180-degree turns as much as religious leaders might want us to think. I’ll sometimes come across really extreme claims like how accepting Jesus can cure depression (I don’t think brain chemistry works that way), but even on a more realistic level, I have to suspect people tend to join religions that largely match their pre-existing beliefs. Yes, atheists and agnostics sometimes come to believe in God, but is it really that common for someone to go from having no particular spiritual beliefs to just accepting the whole package? It’s especially strange when bigotry is part of the package, because that doesn’t generally come from nowhere. I find it a little strange that newer religions are so intent on maintaining old prejudices anyway. Leviticus is anti-gay, but it was also written 3000 years ago. Yet both Mormonism and Scientology, quite new in the world of religion, are incredibly homophobic. As for prosperity theology, well, religion is complicated when it comes to money. There are certainly hints of wealth being a sign of God’s favor in the Bible, but I think most of it is from before the Babylonian exile. The Jews being repeatedly screwed over appears to have led to recognition that good people aren’t always rewarded and bad ones not always punished, and Jesus took this approach to extremes.

That isn’t to say that Christian leaders haven’t done their best to exploit the masses for their own personal gain, just as religious and political bigwigs have throughout history. And now we have megachurch preachers insisting they NEED to own private planes. To my mind, people in these churches are basically accepting the negative parts of Christianity while disregarding the good ones. Really, there are so many different kinds of Christianity that “finding Jesus” means basically nothing without some more information about which take on Jesus it is.

We live in a country where self-styled Christians are cheerleaders for Donald Trump, a guy who’s probably less Christ-like than Herod the Great.

Not that this particularly matters to me; what DOES matter is that he’s a terrible person by pretty much ANY moral system. But it’s interesting that the same basic religion can lead to views and actions that are essentially total opposites.

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This entry was posted in Celebrities, Christianity, Cults, Current Events, Fundamentalism, Mormonism, Prejudice, Religion, Scientology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Beliebe It or Not

  1. Glenn I says:

    The one-panel cartoon made me think of Where’s Waldo? Have you found Jesus? He’s somewhere in this picture.

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