Chris Pratt is addressing the Hillsong controversy, but is he being honest or simply trying to save face?
Earlier today, the Jurassic World: Dominion star featured in a Men’s Health article. In the interview, Pratt shared that he’s never been to the Hillsong Church. Instead, he attends Zoe Church, but not regularly. So why didn’t he say so earlier? The actor says he didn’t want to “throw a church under the bus.”
“Religion has been oppressive as f*ck for a long time,” he says as we walk over a tiny footbridge, the words spilling out in an emotional tidal wave. “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 on to the back of religion and come along for the ride.”
The controversy around Chris Pratt and his religious community started in 2019. At the time, Pratt appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to promote The LEGO Movie 2. While on the program, Pratt ended up talking about his 21-day diet based on the Old Testament. This “The Daniel Fast” involves eating only fruits, vegetables, and grains. That means no breads, no animal products, no meat, no sugar, and no alcohol. Pratt mentioned that he participated in the diet through his church. He also shared a quote from his church about humility.
After the interview aired, The Umbrella Academy star Elliot Page called out Chris Pratt on Twitter for being a member of the Hillsong Church. At the time, Page, who had yet to come out as transgender but now uses the pronouns he/they, had gone viral only a few weeks earlier for their own Colbert interview. As such, Page had gained a lot of favor with LGBTQ Twitter users. It was perfect and unfortunate timing for Page and Pratt, respectively.
“Oh. K. Um. But his church is infamously anti lgbtq so maybe address that too?” wrote Elliot Page.
Oh. K. Um. But his church is infamously anti lgbtq so maybe address that too? https://t.co/meg8m69FeF
— Elliot Page (@TheElliotPage) February 8, 2019
In response, Chris Pratt posted an Instagram story saying, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
He wrote, “It has recently been suggested that I go to a church which ‘hates a certain group of people’ and is ‘infamously anti-LGBTQ.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everybody”.
“Despite what the Bible says about divorce, my church community was there for me every step of the way, never judging, just gracefully accompanying me on my walk,” the actor added. “They helped me tremendously offering love and support. It is what I have seen them do for others on countless occasions regardless of sexual orientation, race, or gender.”
He continued: “My faith is important to me, but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesperson for any church or any group of people. My values define who I am. We need less hate in this world, not more. I am a man who believes that everyone is entitled to love who they want, free from the judgment of their fellow man.
“Jesus said, ‘I give you a new command, love one another.’ This is what guides me in my life. He is a God of love, acceptance and forgiveness. Hate has no place in my or this world.”
But what is the Hillsong Church and why would it be bad to be a part of it? Well, it’s a Christian community that a lot of celebrities have ties to. This includes Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Vanessa Hudgens, Nick Jonas, Bono, and more.
While the church claims to support of LGBTQ congregation members, the church simultaneously supports conversion therapy and teaches that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, Hillsong’s leader, Brian Houston, once infamously said, “We do not affirm a gay lifestyle.” And in 2015, he released a statement saying he “holds to traditional Christian thought on gay lifestyles and gay marriage” and that “God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Then in 2019, Josh Canfield, who’s also openly gay and was asked to step down from his position within the church, talked to ChurchClarity about the organization. In the interview, Canfield said the church was harming people by not openly stating their policy restrictions involving LGBTQ people.
“This lack of clarity on what the church believed hurt my relationship with the church because I began not trusting people,” he shared. “I would doubt things they said to me and wondered if they were ever speaking truthfully.”
But here’s the thing, Chris Pratt now says he never belonged to Hillsong. Instead, he (irregularly) goes to Zoe Church. But a few searches online prove that Pratt’s only getting away on a technicality. Yes, Zoe Church is not Hillsong. BUT, it was created by a preacher who came from Hillsong. After teaching at Hillsong, preacher Chad Veach went on to create his own church (Zoe). Hillsong’s website even still notes Veach as a contributor. As such, Zoe Church ultimately has direct ties and similar teachings to Hillsong.
In addition, it’s not like Zoe Church is much better in reputation or stance when it comes to LGBTQ people and issues. For instance, Veach executive produced a film in 2017 that focused on people who “have struggled with ‘sexual brokenness.” This included “same-sex attraction,” according to Meaww.
As for Chris Pratt’s claim of not being a religious man that “using [religion] to control people, to take money from people, to abuse children, to steal land, to justify hatred” that seems true. But now, in 2022, Chris Pratt is still as complacent to those type of religious people as he was in 2019. Now, he’s just trying to get out of the hot seat.
To be fair, does Chris Pratt deserve as much hate as he’s received in the past four years? In terms of being a religious bystander? Yes to some of it but not all of it. But using easily exposed technicalities to escape blame? That certainly won’t help him.