Hollywood and religion don’t often go hand in hand. After all, plenty of celebrities stray far from what most people would consider the straight-and-narrow moral compass, regardless of specific religious beliefs.
Plus, most music producers and movie directors don't seem to care much about the common pillars of modesty, humility, and faith. Still, many people raised in religious households flock to Tinseltown and end up rising to stardom in spite of their potentially strictly religious childhoods.
Some celebrities who grew up in homes with strong religious roots maintain a few of their core beliefs. Others reject everything they learned during childhood, and some even go on to find other belief systems to fill the void.
And while some famous faces are open about the upbringings they had and the faith they still hold today, others like to keep that part of their lives private. Still others have completely switched things up and become very vocal about where they came from and what they've chosen for their own lives (and their growing families'). When it comes to stars who grew up in devout households, there may be a few surprises in store for fans!
Keep reading to find out which of today's favorite celebrities grew up in religious families, and which ones still maintain those beliefs today.
25 Beyoncé Was Raised Methodist Christian
Born and raised in Houston Texas, Bey grew up in a Methodist Christian household with traditional values.
The name Destiny’s Child even came from the Bible, according to the Queen herself.
“The thing that keeps me grounded is knowing that I’m always protected and that God is in control of things,” Beyoncé said in an interview. Though she considers herself more spiritual than religious now, she still holds onto those core values that parents Matthew and Tina Knowles instilled in her.
24 Jessica Alba Pushed Back Against Her Catholic Upbringing
Jessica Alba grew up with strict Catholic parents who weren’t always happy with her choices. “My parents were very strict but I broke away from that at an early age. I was a feminist when I was five,” she explained, confessing that their rules provoked her to rebel against them. Even though Alba doesn’t share all her parents’ beliefs, she allows them to have their faith and still gets along with them. “These days, I am much more liberal-minded, but I still respect their beliefs.”
23 Lady Gaga Didn't Have An Easy Time At Catholic School
It may not come as a surprise that outspoken singer and activist Lady Gaga didn’t really fit in at her Catholic school in New York City.
Even back then, Gaga trusted her own instincts rather than doing what she was told.
She said “… we were told to pray to God and pray to Jesus, but I always prayed to women.” Gaga later used a lot of religious imagery in her music videos, provoking some criticism in the media world, but still has a good relationship with her Catholic family.
22 It Was The Severity Of A Religious Household That Kept Gwen Stefani In Line
Gwen Stefani believes that she’s been able to stay grounded during her years as a rock star and fashion icon because her strict Catholic parents set rules for her from a young age. Today, Stefani may not follow all the guidelines of the Catholic rulebook, but she does believe in God and she does believe in miracles. The star believes that her second pregnancy was a gift from above after her first child, Kingston, prayed for her to have another baby.
21 The Daughter Of Pastors, Katy Perry Grew Up With Strict Rules
Katy Perry didn’t just grow up in your average devout household; both her parents were actually pastors.
Trying to raise their daughter in accordance with their beliefs, they prohibited certain types of music and sayings from the house.
Perry admitted that as a child, she wasn’t allowed to say things like “deviled eggs," wasn’t allowed to read anything but the Bible, and mainly listened to gospel music. She even had plans of becoming a gospel singer before the pop scene called her.
20 Selena Gomez Made A Promise To Herself At Thirteen
Growing up in a Catholic household, Selena Gomez made a promise to herself when she was thirteen years old to follow the ideals her parents set out for her and honored it by wearing a ring. Today, Gomez still identifies as a Christian, but now falls under the Pentecostal denomination. She frequently attends the Hillsong Church, where she’s been spotted with ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber. She mentioned her faith in an open letter to herself, which she read at a Hillsong conference: “You are enough because you are a child of God who has been pursued from the very beginning.”
19 Pink Still Identifies As Jewish Today
Pink was raised by a Catholic father and Jewish mother in Pennsylvania but has confessed that she considers herself Jewish.
Her faith is still something she carries around with her today, and she does speak up in the face of adversity, supporting the Jewish community to which she belongs.
“It’s incredible to watch [these groups] march in 2017, while I, a Jewish woman, headline a show in Berlin …” the singer tweeted after the 2017 events that unfolded in Charlottesville.
18 Kathy Griffin Was Sent To Parochial School As A Child
Like many Americans of Irish heritage, Kathy Griffin grew up in a Catholic household. But the severe rules her religious parents imposed on her didn’t really stick. “My parents sent me to Catholic school, which only made me the vehement militant atheist that I am today,” she said in a 2005 interview. “The nuns called me 'boy crazy'; don't you love that?” Today, Griffin makes her feelings about the Catholic church clear and includes them in her comedic shows and material.
17 Brad Pitt’s Southern Baptist Father Was “Very, Very Tough”
Now a household name, Brad Pitt was born into humble beginnings. His parents were Southern Baptists and his father, in particular, was “very, very tough” on him. Pitt admitted that he and his siblings were molded to have “all the Christian guilt about what you should and shouldn’t do.”
His father’s approach didn’t have a lot of influence on his own parenting style, though.
Rather, Pitt believes in helping his kids find themselves, only pulling them back when they get out of line.
16 Before Hollywood, Rose McGowan Was Raised By A Religious Community
Well-known for playing Paige Matthews on the original series of Charmed, Rose McGowan grew up in a household that was involved with the Children of God community. She was born in Italy, where her father was the head of the local chapter. Today, McGowan is open about her experience living in the Children of God community and her current beliefs as an adult woman. Her father moved the family away from the Children of God community when McGowan turned nine.
15 Kris Jenner Still Sends Her Family A Bible Verse Every Day
The Kardashian-Jenner household that we see on television may not seem overly devout, but Kim K maintains that the family is very serious about their faith.
“We don’t share it much, but we’re really religious,” Kim said in an interview with Vogue.
“We start our day with a group chat with a Bible verse from my mom, and everyone chimes in on the meaning of it.” But that's not all: Kim and husband Kanye West even baptized daughter North West in Jerusalem.
14 Jessica Simpson Nearly Became A Gospel Singer
Before she turned her attention to mainstream music, movies, and reality television, Jessica Simpson seriously considered becoming a gospel singer. Her father Joseph was a Baptist youth minister in Dallas, where she grew up, and would take in unwed mothers and provide them shelter. He also gave Simpson a religious ring when she was twelve years old that reminded her to keep her faith. She was noticed by the head of a Christian music label but was ultimately dropped from the label because of her appearance.
13 Michael Jackson Was Excommunicated From The JW Church
It’s common knowledge that Michael Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, was incredibly hard on all his kids, especially the young Michael.
But it’s less known that the Jackson family were actually part of the Church of JW.
One of the most recognizable traits of this religion is the missionary work they do. Even after he launched his career, Jackson spent many Sundays doing missionary work where he would go door to door in the suburbs of Southern California, distributing JW magazines.
12 As A Child, Glenn Close Was Raised By The Moral Re-Armament Family
Legendary actress Glenn Close’s childhood was heavily influenced by the Moral Re-Armament group, otherwise known as MRA. They were intended to be an anti-war movement and focused on the qualities of honesty, love, and unselfishness. However, Close has since revealed that life under the MRA regime was strict, and there were many things she wasn’t allowed to do. Eventually, the actress left MRA when she was 22 years old. Today she is honest about her time with the MRA as a child and teenager.
11 Denzel Washington Is The Son Of A Minister
Denzel Washington’s father was a Pentecostal minister and demanded that his son live his life a certain way while growing up. Washington had to attend church every Sunday and was required to read from the Bible every day.
If things had been different, Washington might have ended up becoming a minister like his father.
But when his parents divorced, he left his hometown for the first time and went to boarding school, which catapulted him down a completely different path.
10 Winona Ryder Grew Up On California’s Rainbow Commune
When she was just seven years old, Winona Ryder relocated to the Rainbow commune in California, where her family lived a life of religious seclusion with seven other families. While living on the commune, Ryder had no electricity, and under the orders of her parents was supposed to meditate, pray, and observe silence in order to encourage peace. She spent a lot of time using her imagination to entertain herself, which may have helped to cultivate her acting talents in the end!
9 Katherine Heigl Still Maintains Some Mormon Values
Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl grew up in a Mormon household.
And while she no longer identifies as a Mormon or practices the religion, there are some beliefs that she has maintained through adulthood.
“I had a childhood that was a childhood. I listened to my parents. I respected the rules,” she said about her earlier years in an interview with Good Housekeeping in 2014. Due to her religious upbringing, Heigl also chose not to live with current husband Josh Kelley until they were officially married.
8 Halloween Was Not Allowed In Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Household
Cuba Gooding Jr.’s parents were such strict Christians that they refused to take part in non-religious holidays. The actor was allowed to celebrate Halloween to an extent, but it had to be on his mom’s terms. That included calling it Hallelujah Day instead of Halloween, and dressing up as angels rather than as anything from the dark world, since she didn’t believe in “goblins and stuff." When he didn’t follow the rules set out for him, Gooding faced the wrath of his mother.
7 Ryan Gosling Was Raised In A Mormon Household
Mormonism was a big part of Ryan Gosling’s childhood, to the point where his mom confessed to The Guardian in 2007 that her son was raised by a “religious zealot."
Everything Gosling did as a child came down to being Mormon, and although he doesn’t identify with the religion today, he attributes a lot of skills he has today to the faith.
About his childhood, he said, “You have to pray in public, shake a lot of hands, talk in public, sing in church, stuff like that.”
6 George Clooney Regularly Repented His Sins In His Childhood
Another celebrity who was born to Catholic parents is George Clooney, who was required to regularly attend mass and was absolved of his sins. But the lessons he learned from the church haven’t left the intended impact: today, the actor is a loud and proud atheist. Though he doesn’t identify as a Catholic, Clooney respects the beliefs of others: “Whatever anybody believes as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, it’s fair enough, and works, and I think, is real and matters.”
5 Martin Scorsese Was Actually Going To Be A Priest
Now he’s iconic for directing some of the most extreme movies out there, but there was a time when Martin Scorsese was considering becoming a priest in the Catholic church.
Born to religious parents, Scorsese attended Catholic school and even spent a year in a seminary.
At that point, his life was completely and utterly devoted to the gospel. It wasn’t to be, though. Scorsese went on to pursue film and became one of the most renowned directors of the age.
4 Anne Hathaway Almost Became A Nun
At the age of eleven, Anne Hathaway truly believed that God had called her out to be a nun. She was growing up in a Catholic household at the time and spent the next four years planning on becoming a nun. The course of her family’s faith changed, however, when her brother Michael revealed something about himself that the Church didn't approve of. “The whole family converted to Episcopalianism after ...” the actress said. “Why should I support an organization that has a limited view of my beloved brother?
3 Ginnifer Goodwin Was Raised To Be Both Christian And Jewish
Ginnifer Goodwin’s childhood household was interesting in that she was raised using elements of both Christianity from her father and Judaism from her mother. Saturdays were for synagogue and Sundays were for church.
The actress was baptized and also had a bat mitzvah.
Goodwin left Judaism completely for ten years after growing up and finding herself but reaffirmed her background and beliefs in 2013. “I was a Jew by birth, and now I’m a Jew by choice,” the actress explained.
2 David & Patricia Arquette Grew Up On The Skymont Subud Commune
Famous siblings David and Patricia Arquette had parents who took devout to a whole new level. They began the Skymont Subud commune in Virginia, where their children lived with them until the late 1970s. “[My parents] started it with a bunch of their friends, and they wanted to kind of build this utopian society,” Patricia said to Oprah. Their parents believed secluded life dedicated to religion would benefit their family. Today, the siblings are open about their experiences on the commune.
1 Elisabeth Moss Rarely Talks About Her Roots
Many celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, join religions that are popular in Hollywood after they become famous. But Elisabeth Moss is one star who grew up with a typically Hollywood religion and remains part of it today.
She’s never been encouraged to speak openly about it, so Moss doesn’t mention it often in interviews.
She did, however, compare her religious beliefs to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Fans criticized her for the comparison, which she made after playing Offred on the Hulu adaptation.
Sources: Marie Claire, This Is Insider