When people think of Hollywood, rarely does their mind ever go to “what a bunch of conservative, church-going folk."
That’s true for either side of the aisle — whether it’s those obsessed with promoting "conservative values" or those praising the liberalism of the Hollywood elite (or, conversely, those upset that they aren’t liberal enough).
In modern media, conservative people (publicly!) seem to be the minority. For every Scott Eastwood, you have a mega pop star endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). For every Chris Pratt, you have a Chris Evans (Or Pine. Or Hemsworth. Or …).
Chris Pratt, in particular, has been a hot-button topic as of late. His controversial castings in both the new Super Mario movie and the new Garfield movie have placed his name in headlines, but the real issue with Pratt lies in his storied history of homophobia and his hypocrisy at playing the nice guy while decidedly not being one.
He most famously and most recently came under fire for a possessively captioned Instagram post about his wife, which alluded to shaming his ex Anna Faris for their son’s health issues. Pratt also attends Zoe Church, modeled after the infamous Hillsong Church — the latter being attended by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber.
Pratt has denied that Zoe is not accepting of all people, but the church that it was modeled after itself says differently. Brian Houston, creator of Hillsong, says Hillsong accepts gay members but does not "affirm a gay lifestyle" or allow for gay leaders in the church. Zoe, presumably, has followed its lead. And if Hollywood is apparently so liberal, how do we allow homophobes to gain positions of power and notoriety?
It’s worth it to say that not all religious, or less broadly and more aptly, Christian celebrities are automatically homophobic. Lady Gaga, for example, is bisexual herself, has fought long and hard for LGBTQ+ rights and has a majority gay fanbase — while also being a Christian and actively working against bigots like former Vice President Mike Pence.
But the idea that so many celebrities can attend notoriously anti-gay churches and get off scot-free is worth an investigation. After all, many celebrities and non-famous people alike claim that cancel culture has ruined careers. Some people think we shouldn’t listen to celebrities at all — that their social capital means next to nothing, and they can share and hold whatever beliefs they want and never have them be relevant.
An argument can be made that as long as celebrities don’t publicize hateful views, they certainly don’t promote them, and they can exist as they wish. Some people think religion and politics are off-limits in general, and even more so, the idea seems to be questioning why we turn to celebrities in general for political and social guidance when they’re just there to entertain.
The reality of the situation is that celebrities should not be political guideposts — if you’re casting a vote or deciding on an issue based on what your favorite celebrity is saying, it can be dangerously uninformed.
But hatred transcends political party, and it can become difficult to justify why celebrities who are bigoted aren’t causing harm by a wave of the hand, claiming that they can believe what they want. People have been fired from schools and office jobs for bigoted opinions, so why is Hollywood any different?
This isn’t to suggest that there needs to be ideological consistency among anyone who achieves even a little bit of fame.
But as a gay Christian myself, one has to wonder why these celebrities who are otherwise young and cool and popular enough to have No. 1 Billboard hits or be cast in Marvel movies actively choose to attend homophobic churches when celebrities like Lady Gaga prove that faith, acceptance and celebrity status can all coexist.
While no one should treat their favorite artist as if they were a news pundit or a political source, the fact of the matter is that celebrities do have power — both socially and politically.
Despite all her issues politically and socially as a notorious white feminist, nearly 65,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 registered to vote after Taylor Swift made an Instagram post asking her followers to get out the vote, and she vocally supported President Joseph R. Biden in the 2020 election.
When the Pratts or Biebers or Jenners of the world are seen attending anti-gay churches and living their life unaffected by ire, what does it say to the 65,000 young people that might do something just because they do?
The moral of the story is this: When celebrities are praised, cast, befriended and allowed to escape criticism of the hateful beliefs they hold, it shows everyone else that if you’re popular enough or pretty enough or talented enough, there is little to no consequence for hate. That’s a precedent we just can’t set, no matter how many hilarious jokes about Pratt’s Mario casting that we get out of it.