Actress and activist Ellen Page is calling out fellow celebrity Chris Pratt for attending an “infamously” anti-LGBTQ church.
Page pointed out that Pratt, who spoke about his church on the “Late Show” Thursday night, didn’t mention that it doesn’t appear to be affirming of queer relationships.
Pratt and a number of other Christian celebrities ― Justin and Hailey Bieber, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez ― have become closely associated with hip, youth-oriented evangelical churches like Hillsong, a megachurch with locations around the world, and Zoe Church, a newer Los Angeles-based church that was modeled after Hillsong.
Pratt is reportedly an attendee at Zoe. In a 2017 Instagram post, he referred to Zoe’s founder, Chad Veach, as “my pastor” while promoting one of Veach’s books. Pratt has also been spotted at Hillsong services.
While churches like Zoe and Hillsong often claim to be welcoming of LGBTQ people, ultimately many still hold conservative Christian views about marriage ― meaning they do not support queer relationships or same-sex marriages.
In an early morning tweet on Friday, Page wrote that “his church is infamously anti lgbtq so maybe address that too?”
Page came out as gay in 2014 and married her partner, dancer and choreographer Emma Portner, in a private ceremony last year. Page has often used her public platform to defend LGBTQ rights.
Oh. K. Um. But his church is infamously anti lgbtq so maybe address that too? https://t.co/meg8m69FeF— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) February 8, 2019
On the “Late Show,” Pratt told host Stephen Colbert he had recently completed the “Daniel fast,” a 21-day fast inspired by the biblical prophet Daniel. The fast requires participants to abstain from meat, sugar, alcohol and other foods, while committing to spend more time in prayer.
Pratt said he did the fast “through my church” and that he was “inspired by my pastor.”
“It’s kind of like our Lent; we give something up,” Pratt said on “The Late Show,” referring to a period of fasting and self-reflection that some Christian churches observe before Easter.
According to its website and Instagram, Zoe Church held 21 days of fasting and prayer this January.
Lorenzo Bevilaqua via Getty Images
Chris Pratt spoke about completing a “Daniel fast” on “The Late Show” Thursday.
Zoe Church is part of a wave of evangelical churches known for their casual, concert-style worship services and Instagram-influential preachers. Zoe opened in 2015 and since then has attracted the attentions of celebrities like Justin Bieber.
In an interview with The New York Times last year, Veach said that he doesn’t like to “bring politics into church.”
“We’re here to preach good news. We’re here to bring hope to humanity. We’re here to talk about God. This is not the place for a political agenda,” Veach said. “This is the last place. When I come to church, you know what I need? I need encouragement.”
But in 2017, Veach served as executive producer for “The Heart Of Man,” a film that hoped to help people heal from “personal and sexual brokenness,” including, according to the Gospel Herald, “same-sex attraction.” It featured an interview with Jackie Hill Perry, an ex-lesbian Christian writer who is now married to a man. Perry has sparked controversy in the past for urging queer Christians to leave same-sex relationships out of a sense of duty to God.
Zoe’s official stance on LGBTQ issues is unclear, according to Church Clarity, a crowd-sourced database that scores churches based on how clearly they communicate their policies on LGBTQ people and on women in leadership.
Matt Winkelmeyer via Getty Images
Pastor Chad Veach is the founder of Zoe Church.
George Mekhail, one of Church Clarity’s founders, told HuffPost he suspects that the ambiguity some conservative Christian churches have around their LGBTQ policies could be intentional.
“We try to assume the best, but once churches are made aware of the fact that being ambiguous is misleading, it’s difficult to continue extending the benefit of the doubt,” Mekhail told HuffPost in an email. “So yes, it often appears intentional, but motivations as to why are trickier.”
“Is it because they want to lure them into their trap to attempt to convert them? Is it because admitting they enforced non-affirming policies would cost them financially? Probably a combination of these two reasons.”
Zoe Church did not immediately return a request for comment.
Hillsong’s views on LGBTQ issues also aren’t immediately apparent on its website. But its founder, Brian Houston, has often made statements against same-sex marriage. He’s also said that gay people are not allowed to take active leadership roles at Hillsong.
Mekhail told HuffPost that when people hear that their favorite celebrities go to a specific church, he believes it reinforces the assumption that these churches are more progressive than they are in reality.
Mekhail and his team at Church Clarity are pushing for more churches to be upfront about their stances on LGBTQ issues and clearly state whether they will ordain, hire, or marry LGBTQ Christians. If a church does not do those things, Church Clarity considers it to be “non-affirming.”
“We are trying to emphasize clarity of policy over content of policy, by exposing how churches react to simple questions reveals questionable motivations and a desire to obfuscate the truth,” he said.
So far, the site has evaluated about 1,520 congregations, predominantly in the U.S.
Mekhail thinks celebrities will also face pressure to clarify their association with evangelical churches that are non-affirming.
“Ellen Page is my new hero, tbh,” he told HuffPost. “I certainly hope that voices like Ellen will also resonate with the message of clarity being an effective way to cut through the noise.”
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