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whathollywoodbelieves.com

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Ray Comfort's ministry Web site, www.livingwaters.com

 
Ray's Books

What Hollywood Believes

The Way of the Master

 
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Kirk Cameron: The Gospel Truth

‘Passion’ Dollars Bring God to Hollywood

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WEB EXCLUSIVE

God in Tinseltown: The Faith of Hollywood Stars

By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Producer

CBN.com Many conservative Christians have railed against Hollywood, claiming the stars to be keenly disinterested in the things of God and even going as far as claiming that Tinseltown is completely anti-God. But author and evangelist Ray Comfort, who has teamed up with Growing Pains celebrity Kirk Cameron for an innovative and award-winning TV program called The Way of the Master that highlights a Bible-centered approach to evangelism, says that that is simply not the case. In fact, through research, Comfort has found some 114 well-known personalities who have shown immense interest in God, all nicely documented in his book What Hollywood Believes (Genesis Publishing Group, 2004)

I got the chance to meet this charismatic native New Zealander with the dry wit and the open smile in Atlanta, Ga.

But don't let his quirky sense of humor fool you. Ray is very serious about the state of evangelism in America and his sincere compassion for the soul's of the lost is the motivation behind his latest effort.

I am just curious what prompted you to write your newest book, What Hollywood Believes, because it seems that with The Passion of the Christ people have been more open to talk about the faith.

RAY COMFORT: Eighty-seven percent of Americans didn't want 'Under God' removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, which dissipates our concern that everybody in America is anti-God. The Passion of the Christ burst out of the box office into the bank. That was another 'hey, America, wake up; hey, Christians, wakeup.' They are not anti-God. They are not going to be offended. I have never seen anyone burst at the neck, veins exploding, when I have talked about the things of God. Every now and then someone says, 'I don't want to talk about this.' But they are few and far between.

About two years ago I looked into what Hollywood believes. I thought, I am going to do a search on the Internet and see if I can find what movie stars believe about God. I came up with hardly anything. I came to the conclusion that Hollywood is bankrupt spiritually. But after The Passion of the Christ, some magazines put out stories on the faith of the few in Hollywood and I thought, Let's have another look. This time I went back and I used different search words. There was a key that I used that just burst open a dam.

Was the search word 'God'?

RAY COMFORT: No. I used to type in 'celebrities,' 'actor,' 'Hollywood,' 'God,' 'Bible,' 'Faith,' and hardly anything would come up.

'Spirituality,' then?

RAY COMFORT: No. There was one particular word. I will tell you what it is in a minute…if you behave yourself!

The reason why I couldn't find it, and so many stars are a little bit reticent, is because of the fact that Hollywood convinced actors in America that America is anti-God and told stars that if they talked about their faith publicly, it would destroy their careers.

But in the darkness of Hollywood, some of the stars were shining, twinkling a little bit. That is what I began to find. Over a month of searching library books, magazines, newspapers, television, and the Internet, I uncovered 114 big-name Hollywood stars and what they believe. I almost became addicted to it. It became finding a golden needle in a haystack of information. John Wayne believed that about God?! Frank Sinatra believed in God and quoted the Sermon on the Mount?! Arnold Schwarzenegger believes in God and the devil?! Britney Spears prays every night?!

You don't hear that in the tabloids.

RAY COMFORT: No. Kevin Costner would love to believe in heaven. He says he would like to believe there is an afterlife. Madonna believes in God. George Lucas wrote Star Wars so that young people would search after God. Jack Nicholson is an atheist. Rosie O'Donnell's son is reading the Bible and she is delighted. Denzel Washington is a Christian; Andy Griffith also. Carrie Fisher is an atheist, and she says she would be delighted if someone would give her evidence of God's existence. And I can. I would love to give her my book God Doesn't Believe in Atheists.

After doing this research, I am sure there are some follow-up people that you would like to talk to personally. Anybody in particular?

RAY COMFORT: All of them. Stick them all in a room and let me preach to them!

Have you witnessed to any of these people?

RAY COMFORT: Just the Christian ones I have talked to, not the non-Christians. What we want to do is produce a television program of the same name. I have already got most of it produced. We have just got to pull it together. We went on the streets of Hollywood and asked people, 'Who do you think said this: 'I have read the Bible through and it has enriched my life'? They would say, 'So-and-So?' I would say, 'Nope. Big time. He is now dead.' And I would give them clues. 'It was Gregory Peck.' They would go, 'Really?' I would say, 'Yeah, he believed that. Does that surprise you?' They would say, 'I didn't know Gregory Peck read the Bible all the way through and it enriched his life.' That is what we do on this television program, and we hope to get with a big-time star, and interview them for five minutes with no pressure on them, and just ask, 'What do you believe?'

What would be the point? Is that to get people to understand that Hollywood is more Christian than they think?

RAY COMFORT: The point of the book is evangelistic. My mother is Jewish. She is not open to the things of God, but she said to me, 'I want to read that book.' She has been pestering me to when it comes out. My siblings, who are anti-Christian, they have asked for the book. People on planes have leaned over and said, 'I want that book when it comes out' -- you know, non-Christians.

The world has an insatiable appetite for what Hollywood celebrities wear, who they are with, what they eat. What they actually believe about God and the afterlife and the Bible is of tremendous interest to the world, so I am tapping into that interest in the hope that they will read the whole book, because the book doesn't just talk about what stars believe. It deals with the subject of suffering, who made God and heaven and hell, and why we believe the Bible when it is full of 'foolish stories' of Jonah and the whale and Moses and the Red Sea and Joshua and the walls of Jericho and all these stories that are an offense to a proud mind which God has deliberately included. This book has caused me to lose so much sleep with excitement that I could give this book to my neighbors without any offense because it is a subject that they just can't resist.

As far as the Christian community, do you hope that Christians would pray for these stars?

RAY COMFORT: Pray for them, use the book to give to their neighbors, and be encouraged in their faith to realize that John Wayne and these other guys had a faith in God. Just understanding that takes the intimidation away from witnessing. These movie stars are just like us. They have the same aspirations, the same fears, the same concerns, the same questions in their minds, like, what happens after you die? That is my hope that God uses this book to reach the lost and to encourage Christians.

Anybody in this book who you think is close to becoming a Christian? Anybody you know in Hollywood that after reading up on them you think, 'Man, this person is close'?

RAY COMFORT: Yeah, there are a lot of people in the book who have a skewed understanding of the things of God. You will find that certain stars will say, 'I believe in the Ten Commandments and that is what I live by. I hope I go to heaven because of that.' What I have done is explain that the Commandments weren't given to be justified by but as a mirror so that we might see our need for God's forgiveness. My heart breaks when I read that. There are people who are so close that have got these cries for salvation but they haven't understood the message. What I have done is make it very, very fair all the way through, using analogies and anecdotes and a little bit of humor here and there.

Imagine that!

RAY COMFORT: In the back of the book, we put Jesus of Nazareth on trial for blasphemy. I say that I am the defense and that I am going to give you evidence that Jesus is God manifested in human form. You are the judge. I am asking you to be impartial. The prosecutor is the devil. How will you hear his voice? He will speak to you through your carnal mind. But don't make any judgment until you hear all of the evidence. Let's put Jesus of Nazareth on trial for blasphemy. If He is guilty, He dies. If He is not guilty, you need to make a judgment and live your life accordingly. All it is is the Gospel of John and the incredible things that Jesus said -- no miracles -- but we want to justify or condemn Him from His own mouth, where He says things like, 'I came down from heaven to do My Father's will.' Anyone who is a great man might say, 'I have been destined to do this,' but not 'I came down from heaven.' 'Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood' -- He is either insane or He is God in human form. At the end I ask them, There is your judgment. What are you going to do? Guilty of blasphemy? Condemn Him to death? Or fall at His feet and call Him Lord? You make the decision. Do it today. So it excites me that it has Scripture in it where people are drawn in, in that sense, to read Scripture.

Then the book includes a list of movie stars who have died. This just grieved my heart when I read the list. I got a huge book of thousands of movie stars that have died before us. Think of it. Their fame means nothing to them now. They are gone forever. The only thing that matters is what they did with Jesus Christ.

My challenge to the reader is that 150,000 people die every 24 hours. Think about your mortality. Think about your eternity. Think about your eternal salvation. This is what you need to do to get right with God.

To learn more go to whathollywoodbelieves.com

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