Perspective: Will the real Chris Pratt please stand up?
In an interview with Men’s Health, the ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ star disavows being religious. Fans are right to wonder why
Behold Chris Pratt, megastar and purported Christian, who once said at an awards show “God is real. God loves you.” He frequently posts Bible verses on social media and once recommended working out bad feelings by exercising to praise music.
That Chris Pratt suddenly seems to have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
In an interview published this week by Men’s Health, the “Jurassic Park” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor said he’s not religious and sees religion as oppressive.
“I didn’t know that I would kind of become the face of religion when really I’m not a religious person,” Pratt said in a discussion with writer Mickey Rapkin about why he has been a lightning rod for controversy on Twitter.
Pratt noted the widely circulated misconception that he was a member of a controversial church and again disavowed going to Hillsong Church.
As for the church that he purportedly attends, Pratt told Rapkin that he goes to Zoe Church in Los Angeles sometimes. But his oldest daughter was baptized at a Catholic church in Santa Monica; the article doesn’t say if his youngest daughter, born in May, has been baptized, or where. (Pratt also has has a son, Jack, with former wife Anna Faris.)
Long thought to be among A-list celebrities who profess a sincere religious faith (others include Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon and Denzel Washington), Pratt stands to alienate some of his longtime fans with the interview, in which he at one point uses an expletive to describe religion.
“ 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,” Pratt said.
Pratt’s tone is markedly different from how he has presented himself in the past. In 2020, for example, he used two verses from Psalms to announce daughter Lyla’s birth on Instagram.
That post didn’t look like an announcement from a man who is not religious, nor did the interview in which he said he is “pro-Christian, pro-Jesus, that’s my thing.” In 2019, in announcing his engagement to Katherine Schwarzenegger, he wrote on social media “Proud to live boldly in faith with you” with an emoji of praying hands.
But Pratt seems to be a different person altogether when giving interviews to men’s magazines. In an interview with Esquire in 2014, he told the widely shared story about how he became a Christian. He said he was approached by a man who said, “Jesus told me to stop and talk to you. He said to tell you you’re destined for great things.”
“I gave my soul to Jesus within, like, two days. I was stuffing envelopes for his organization, Jews for Jesus. I’m not even sure, at that age — I was 19 years old — I knew what Jewish was,” Pratt said.
But even then, the Pratt presented in Esquire was much like the Pratt of Men’s Health; that is, he didn’t come across as religious in any traditional sense.
Anna Peele wrote, “He doesn’t believe in heaven or anything — he’s forsaken the Lutheranism of his youth and Jews for Jesus and is now a free agent for God — but he still speed-prays ‘Now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep-I-pray-the-Lord-my-soul-to-keep-if-I-die-before-I-wake-I-pray-the-Lord-my-soul-to-take’ before he falls asleep, for himself and now for his son, Jack.”
The best of people can become chameleons in the presence of others, changing colors ever so slightly to fit in with our surroundings. And maybe Pratt was tweaking his message to be more in line with the readers of men’s magazines than with, say, Christianity Today. Maybe his Hollywood studio overlords have demanded it, lest he be threatened with cancellation again in a big year for his career.
But there does seem to have been an evolution in recent years, at least in his public messaging about faith. In 2017, he wrote on Instagram that he’d asked his brother to put a Bible verse — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” — on a handmade tray. Now, he’s not religious.
Will the real Chris Pratt please stand up?