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14 Famous People Who Follow Controversial Religions That You Didn’t Know

Religion is not the most common topic for any celebrities to discuss when promoting their films, TV series, or music, but on certain occasions, celebrities have actually opened up about their religions.

This is sometimes done to convey how their faith has benefited them through difficult times or in their career. It’s sometimes to expose traumatic experiences from their childhood and how they were raised. 14 celebrities listed below have all been involved with faiths that may be regarded as controversial, whether it’s because their church’s administration has been called into question or they were part of a literal cult.

Of course, not every one of these situations is similar, so take it from the celebs themselves. Continue reading to find out what these reputed members and former members have to say about their religions and beliefs.

#1 Andrew Keegan

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Andrew Keegan founded his religious organization, Full Circle, in 2014. According to Vulture, the “actual theology of the group is tough to pin down, but it seems to loosely follow Hinduism” and “Sunday services begin with intention-setting, followed by a group-chanted ‘We love you’ to each congregant, not just Andrew. Everyone holds hands.”  Keegan said on Instagram in 2017 that Full Circle was coming to an end, yet it still exists in some form. Full Circle’s Facebook page currently characterizes it as a “spiritual and artistic environment within which people may develop their potential as reflective beings and connect with other members of the Los Angeles community” and it conducts film screenings, yoga sessions, art displays, and other events.

#2 Chris Pratt

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Chris Pratt is one of many celebrities who are or have been associated with the Hillsong Church, which is involved in several scandals, including financial impropriety and accusations of pastor abuse. The Christian megachurch began in Australia and has spread to congregations all over the world. According to Refinery29, Pratt later joined Zoe Church, which was inspired by Hillsong.

The Guardians of the Galaxy star made news in 2019 after actor Elliot Page tweeted that Pratt was a member of an “infamously anti-LGBTQ” church, according to Variety. Pratt responded on Instagram, saying, “It has recently been suggested that I belong 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 its doors to absolutely everyone.”

#3 Elisabeth Moss

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Scientology is far more well-known than the other religions and organizations included here, and it has many celebrity members, notably Tom Cruise and John Travolta, yet it is extremely controversial. Elisabeth Moss is a celebrity Scientologist who isn’t as open about her engagement as others.

The Handmaid’s Tale actor hasn’t said much publicly about her church membership, but in 2019, she told The Daily Beast, “Listen, it’s a complicated thing because the things that I believe in, I can only speak to my personal experience and my personal beliefs. One of the things I believe in is freedom of speech. I believe we as humans should be able to critique things. I believe in freedom of the press. I believe in people being able to speak their own opinions. I don’t ever want to take that away from anybody, because that actually is very important to me. At the same time, I should hope that people educate themselves for themselves and form their own opinion, as I have.”

#4 Glenn Close

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Glenn Close’s parents joined the Moral Re-Armament group when she was seven years old. Close and her siblings spent two years in the MRA headquarters in Switzerland while her father worked as a medic in Congo, particularly for tyrant Mobutu Sese Seko.

Close told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014, “You were really not permitted to do anything, or you were forced to feel bad about any unnatural urge.” Close returned to the United States when she was 15 and cut all links with the group when she was in her early twenties. “If you talk to anybody who was in a group that basically dictates how you’re supposed to live and what you’re supposed to say and how you’re supposed to feel, from the time you’re seven till the time you’re 22, it has a profound impact on you.”

#5 Justin and Hailey Bieber

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Justin and Hailey Bieber have also been involved with Hillsong, Zoe Church, and a similar church called Churchome. In reaction to a post stating Justin studied to be a pastor at Hillsong, he denied the idea on his Instagram Story in January 2021, saying, “AND BTW HILLSONG IS NOT MY CHURCH. FOR CLARITY I AM A PART OF CHURCHOME.” GQ has reported that the singer was baptized in the bathtub of an NBA player by now-disgraced former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz.

When Hailey first became involved with Hillsong, she told Elle in 2020, “It started to feel like my own little community of people who were also young and following God and just immersed in a church community.”

#6 Kelsey Grammer

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Kelsey Grammer was a Christian Scientist in the past, but it’s unclear if he now considers himself to be one. Rather than using medicine, Christian Science encourages healing via prayer. Members, according to the church’s website, “are always free to select the type of healthcare that best fulfills their needs for themselves and their family. However, by adopting Christian Science, many people have led happy and healthy lives free of medications and other medical systems.”

In 2008, Grammer told Hollywood.com, “I’m a Christian Scientist but I’m not a full-blown practicing one. I actually visit doctors and I do take medication. But a lot of the principles of my approach to faith are rooted in that, which is pretty much mind over matter if you want to reduce it to one thing.”

#7 Kirstie Alley

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Kirstie Alley has spoken openly about her Scientology beliefs in interviews and on Celebrity Big Brother. “First of all, I just want everyone to know I have hundreds of friends who have come into Scientology and left Scientology. You’re not shunned, you’re not chased. All that stuff’s bulls***,” In 2013, she commented on The Howard Stern Show regarding former Scientologist and anti-Scientology activist Leah Remini. (Remini and other former Scientologists have stated that when members quit the church, they are cut off from family and friends and fear reprisal if they speak out against it to the outside world.) “When you’re generalizing and when your goal is to malign and to say things about an entire group…when you decide to blanket statement that Scientology is evil, you are my enemy.”

#8 McKayla Maroney

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McKayla Maroney, an Olympic gymnast, has been affiliated with The Church of the Master Angels. CMA claims that members have been cured of anything from anxiety to HIV via their religion. According to The Daily Beast, participants can spend up to $10,000 for courses. Maroney has been pictured wearing a CMA necklace, but in an August 2021 interview with Elle, she defended herself from being in “a cult.” She also stated that she had not attended a CMA workshop since the outbreak began. “I’ve always believed in God and more than just myself. But I’m not religious; I am not in a cult,” Maroney said.

#9 Michelle Pfeiffer

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Michelle Pfeiffer became interested in breatharianism when she was 20 and had recently moved to Los Angeles. Breatharians think that individuals can thrive solely on sunlight. The actor stated in a 2013 interview with the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine that she met a pair who “worked with weights and put people on diets. Their specialty was vegetarianism.” She continued, “They were very controlling. I wasn’t living with them but I was there a lot and they were always telling me I needed to come more. I had to pay for all the time I was there, so it was financially very draining. They believed that people in their highest state were breatharian.”

Pfeiffer explained that her ex-husband, Peter Horton, was studying cults for a film project when she realized, “I was in one.”

#10 Rose McGowan

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Actress Rose McGowan grew up as a member of the cult Children of God. Her parents relocated to Italy and established an Italian chapter of the organization, and McGowan was born and raised in the nation. The tribe practiced communal living as well as polygamous relationships. McGowan told People in 2011 that when she discovered that adults were being pushed to abuse children, she fled with her father, his “other wife,” and siblings. “I was not molested because my dad was strong enough to realize that this hippie love had gone south,” she said.

#11 The Arquette family

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David, Rosanna, Alexis, Richmond, and Patricia Arquette grew up in a Subud commune in Virginia. “The essence of Subud is a spiritual exercise or training called the ‘latihan’ which is open to people whatever their religion or belief,”  according to the World Subud Association. “A person may spontaneously experience inner changes that allow one to be more fully human, more sensitive to higher values and usually manifest themselves in a person’s everyday pursuits.”

Patricia told Oprah Winfrey in 2011: “[Our parents] started it with a bunch of their friends, and they wanted kind of build this little utopian society, and David was born there on the commune. No electricity, no bathroom, I don’t think there was running water even.”

#12 The Phoenix family

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Joaquin and River Phoenix were members of Children of God when they were children, and they traveled around South America and the Caribbean during their time in the cult. In 2014, Joaquin told Playboy, “I think my parents thought they’d found a community that shared their ideals,”  (via Entertainment Tonight). “Cults rarely advertise themselves as such. It’s usually someone saying, ‘We’re like-minded people. This is a community,’ but I think the moment my parents realized there was something more to it, they got out.”

#13 Toni Braxton

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Toni Braxton’s family belonged to a fundamentalist Christian cult called Pillar of Truth when she was a child. She writes (via MSN) in her 2014 memoir, Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir,  “I began connecting religion, God and church with judgment, anxiety, and guilt… The times that bound us together became the ties that strangled us. Our family had fallen into religious extremism.” Some of the church’s regulations, according to Braxton, included avoiding listening to pop music or celebrating holidays.

#14 Val Kilmer

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Val Kilmer is another well-known Christian Scientist. He told The New York Times in 2020 that he had planned to treat his throat cancer by moving away to work with a Christian Science guide in an attempt to cure himself through prayer. His children, who are not Christian Scientists, were opposed to the notion, so Kilmer had surgery and chemotherapy. “I just didn’t want to experience their fear, which was profound,” he said. “I would’ve had to go away, and I just didn’t want to be without them.”