Fame and religion are not two things that usually go hand in hand. There is this common misconception that in order to be entertaining you have to be salacious and controversial and that is not something that pairs well with devotion to God. But there are different degrees of being religious and a lot of celebrities interpret and abide by their religion in their own individual ways. One religion that a lot of people don’t expect entertainers to practice is Mormonism.
Why is that? There are a lot of extremes that the masses associate with Mormonism. Not all Mormons have multiple wives or go on reality television shows to get in the spotlight. Just like any other religion, people adopt different tenants into their lifestyles. Just like any other religion, its followers have varying degrees of outspokenness. Just like any other religion, there are people who grew up Mormon who moved away from its teachings as time went on. With that said, it really doesn’t make any sense to stereotype Mormonism, or any other religion for that matter in an attempt to characterize the “types of people” that you assume would be followers.
Some of these names may surprise you. Others will make perfect sense to you. Just keep an open mind when reading about these twelve stars and their experiences with the Mormon faith.
12. Paul Walker
The late Paul Walker was raised Mormon. He later left the religion to be a nondenominational Christian, but his Mormon background definitely influenced his thoughts when it came to raising his daughter and making other life decisions. Paul Walker had explained that he struggled to figure out how to make important choices even though he had moved away from the faith: “[he] was brought up in a traditional Mormon family where these ideas about parenting are of structure and sacrifice. To think outside of that idea of family and parenting that [he has] grown up with is tough, but also very freeing.” It sounds like even though he was not following the religion, that many of its tenants influenced him greatly for the rest of his life.
11. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera has been famous for a very long time, but she’s never really made her religious affiliation a public matter that she speaks about. So is Christina Aguilera a Mormon? That is honestly a little unclear to me, but her parents met at a Mormon college and got married in a Mormon temple. And it has been reported that her mom had Mormon home teachers to educate Christina when she was growing up. Whether Christina is a Mormon or not these days, the religion must have had an influence on her upbringing and who she is today. So it is possible that she still identifies with some aspects of the religion.
10. Julianne Hough
Julianne Hough found it difficult to balance her Mormon faith and her career in Hollywood when she first started getting famous. She was raised in a strict Mormon community in Utah and described it by saying, “No sex before marriage, no drinking, no caffeine, no smoking, no swear words, no R-rated movies.” She explained that her behavior changed throughout time, “I didn’t drink when I first came to Hollywood.” Then she started to relax some of the parameters in her life when she lived with her ex boyfriend Ryan Seacrest and has let go of some of the restrictions she previously had on her own behavior: “[Now] I don’t think it’s going to define who I am if I am at Chateau Marmont having a glass of wine.” It looks like Julianne still believes in many aspects of her faith, but has welcomed finding balance for herself outside of those parameters.
9. Gladys Knight
Gladys Knight did not grow up as a practicing Mormon. Instead, she found the religion later in life. God had always been a big part of her life and she was very careful about not falling prey to vices when she started out her entertainment career. Most of these famous people were influenced by their parents to follow tenets of Mormonism, but it was actually Gladys’s children who inspired her to get involved with the religion and it was actually her son whom her baptized her into it. She loved Mormonism, but felt conflicted about the church’s history with blacks and segregation, but she has been working through it and is a very proud believer.
The singer Jewel was born in Utah to parents who were raised as Mormons and their beliefs definitely affected her. In an interview, Jewel explained how this affected her life and what principles she had to abide by while she was growing up: “As a kid, I had a Mormon pamphlet, and it said you had to keep an arm’s length away from a woman in bed and a husband couldn’t spoon his wife for more than twenty minutes.” I find it kind of weird that there would be an upper time limit on the cuddling, especially as something explicitly stated in a religion, but that was apparently how things were interpreted as she was growing up. It is not clear where Jewel is at this point in life when it comes to her religion, but I’m sure that such strict boundaries has definitely affected who she is today.
7. Aaron Eckhart
Aaron Eckhart was raised by Mormon parents. He has struggled with how to balance what he was taught growing up with how he wanted to live later in life. He had trouble reconciling his religious faith and his drinking habits. So is he religious now? Aaron Eckhart has said, “I can’t really say I’m a practicing Mormon now, but there are influences. You have it in your blood and bones. To me spirituality transcends any sort of organisation, but I believe there is a right and wrong and a higher power.” It seems like the actor is another one of those people who has emerged from a strict Mormon upbringing and has embraced specific facets of the religion, but not all of them as an adult.
6. Amy Adams
Amy Adams grew up as a Mormon and says that it greatly affected her behavior and the way that she views herself: “I’m very hard on myself anyway. Religious guilt carries over, too. You can’t really misbehave without feeling badly about it — at least I can’t.” She added, “Even when I go out with friends and we go overboard at bars or clubs, I wake up the next morning feeling a bit conflicted about having had too much fun.”
Even with all the internal conflict she has contributed to Mormonism, she still thinks that the religion did have some positive impact on the way she is. Amy explained this when she said, “What I still feel and rely on from that kind of teaching is how you can bring a lot of joy to the people around you by being positive and hopeful.” It sounds like Amy has had a lot of self reflection and has figured out how to benefit from her Mormon upbringing the best that she can.
5. Eliza Dushku
Eliza Dushku was raised as a Mormon and was so involved that her first crush was actually Mitt Romney, a pretty proud Mormon who served as her Bishop when she was a kid. Nowadays, she does not know how to abide by her Mormon beliefs because she strongly disagrees with the religion’s stance on homosexuality. Although Eliza is very adamant about her views on that topic, she hasn’t completely thrown away all aspects of Mormon life. The actress said, “There will always be that part of me that’s Mormon.” She even has a Mormon-inspired tattoo on her hip which shows that she still holds aspects of the religion close to her heart.
4. Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney is arguably one the most high profile Mormons out there. The former Presidential hopeful is very devoted to his faith, but he tried his best not to make his religious beliefs the center of his presidential campaign back in 2012. He was actually the first Mormon to receive the Republican party’s presidential nomination. He talked about how he has a shared “Christian conscience” and how he believes in God, but didn’t utter the word “Mormon.” He is devoted to his religion, but does not seem like the type of person who wants to publicly push these beliefs on others.
3. Katherine Heigl
When Katherine Heigl’s brother got into an awful car accident and became brain dead, her family ended up finding solace in Mormonism and converting to the religion. Heigl has said, “I give my parents unbelievable credit for pulling it together, and I give the Mormon church a lot of credit for helping them to do that.”
So did she stick with the religion? Yes and no. The religion has influenced a lot of her major decisions like deciding to move in with her now-husband: “I also didn’t want to live together before we were married. I still have enough Mormon in me—not a lot, but enough—that I wanted to keep that a little bit sacred.” The religion came into Katherine’s life at the right time and has provided her with a foundation that has helped guide a lot of her life choices.
2. Chelsea Handler
Chelsea Handler is one of the last people that you might expect to have ties to the Mormon religion. After all, she is a very outspoken and often inappropriate comedian. But you can’t judge a book by its cover. In fact, Chelsea’s father is Jewish and her mother was a devout Mormon. Although each religion meant something important to her parents, they still asked Chelsea about which one she would be interested in following. Chelsea explained this in an interview with Larry King: “They asked me to choose between Judaism and Mormonism. My one sister told me that with Mormonism, you can’t drink, you can’t have caffeine, and you can’t really have sex. So I was like, I’ll take the dreidel.” It is unclear how much Mormonism impacted her life, but it is a part of her in some way, even if it is just something she is not interested in.
1. Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling was brought up by devout Mormon parents. He even got his start in entertainment by performing in Mormon talent shows while he was growing up. Ryan Gosling explained that his upbringing was extremely strict: “We were brought up pretty religious. My mother admits it: She says, you were raised by a religious zealot. She’s different now, but at the time, it was a part of everything — what they ate, how they thought.” He later credited the discipline from those experiences for helping him be devoted and successful when it came to preparing for more demanding acting roles.
This list is just another example of why it is never a good idea to stereotype any kind of group, especially when it comes to experiences with religion. These celebrities have all been involved with the Mormon religion to an extent that has really impacted their lives.