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Friday, September 23, 2011

Ten Most Notable Celebrity Religious Conversions

 According to them, in the world of entertainment, religion is the new black. Renounce worldly goods, wear a robe and take up chanting, and your celebrity star rating will soar. In today’s multi-faith society, you'll gonna have a hard time to choose which religion has the most pros than cons. We take a look at ten famous notable celebrity religious conversions of our celebrity figures who have felt the pressure of choice and made dramatic conversions from one faith to another.

1.) Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes: from Christian (Catholicism) to Church of Scientology

Introduced to the Church of Scientology by his first wife, Mimi Rogers in 1990, Tom Cruise has been a staunch advocate ever since. Cruise and his second wife Katie Holmes, who converted away from Catholicism and into Scientology shortly after meeting Cruise, are now the most prominent celebrity advocates of Scientology.

2.) George Harrison: from Christianity to Hinduism

Encouraged by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to swap LSD for meditation when he visited India in the 1960's, the late George Harrison soon became an advocate of the Hare Krishna tradition. Choosing to remain in normal dress, the Beatles star was a 'closet Krishna' until the end of his life in 2001. Among his Hare Krishna-inspired works, Harrison set up a Hare Krishna temple in Watford, Bhaktivedanta Manor.

3.) Elizabeth Taylor: from Christianity to Judaism

Famous for her somewhat fickle lovelife, involving a tally of eight husbands to seven different men (marrying and divorcing Richard Burton twice over for good measure), Taylor is also famously changeable when it comes to her religious beliefs. Formerly a Christian, she converted to Judaism before marrying her second husband Eddie Fisher, explaining later in her autobiography: "As a kid I had a Walter Mitty dream about being Jewish and wished I was." She has since joined Madonna in becoming Kabbalah, and wore a red bracelet in support of Michael Jackson during his 2005 child molestation trial. He later wrote a song entitled 'Elizabeth, I love you' which was performed at her 65th birthday celebration.

4.) Malcolm Little/ Malcolm X: from Christianity to Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam

Born Malcolm Little, the infamous black activist, writer and speaker converted from Christianity to Islam whilst in prison in the 1950's. Rejecting his surname - like many members of the Nation of Islam he saw it as a symbol of the slavery of his forefathers - Malcolm X became the public face of the Nation of the Islam and preached black supremacy, racial segregation and the return of African Americans to Africa. After falling out with Elijah Muhammed in the early 1960's, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam and became a Sunni Muslim, later going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. He was assassinated in 1965.

5.) Madonna: from Catholicism to Kabbalah Judaism

Following her staunch Catholic upbringing and faith in her early career, frequently referred to in her songs, Madonna shocked the celebrity world by converting to the mystical Jewish belief system Kabbalah in 1997. Introduced to Kabbalah by her fellow celebrity friend Sarah Bernhard, Madonna adopted the Hebrew name 'Esther' and began to wear a red bracelet round her wrist - believed by the Kabbalah to ward off the 'evil eye'. The Kaballah sect, which is made up of a mixture of orthodox Judaism and positive thinking and involves the drinking of £4 a bottle holy water, has since received millions of pounds from Madonna/ Esther. However, controversy abounded a few years back when rumours emerged that Madonna may be growing weary of her Kabbalah leanings.

6.) Cat Stevens/ Yusuf Islam: from Christianity to Islam

Singer songwriter Cat Stevens converted to Islam in 1977, apparently inspired by the sound of the call to prayer when he was holidaying in Marrakech. He has since been known as 'Yusuf Islam'. He then gave up music and devoted his life to educational and philanthropic Islamic causes, winning many prizes for his work in the promotion of peace. He caused huge controversy in 1989 when he appeared to support the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, though he has strongly refuted this ever since and claims it was due to improper editing on the television programme on which he was interviewed. He returned to music in 2006, releasing his first album in 28 years, 'An Other Cup' and now goes by the stage name 'Yusuf'.

7.) Alexander Litvinenko: from Russian Orthodox to Islam

The Russian spy, dissident and writer was Russian Orthodox Christian for most of his life, but converted to Islam on his deathbed, apparently due to his increasing disenchantment with his former religion. His death from polonium-210 in Britain three years ago caused a huge controversy, and the refusal of Russia to hand over the suspected assassin Andrey Lugovoy significantly weakened Anglo-Russian relations. Having announced his conversion to Islam to his father just days before his death, traditional Muslim funeral rites were performed on the body, in spite of his widow's alleged explicit wishes to the contrary.

8.) Tony Blair: from Anglican to Catholicism

Just months after retiring from no. 10, the former PM converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, his wife Cherie's faith. Having been openly religious throughout his political career, famously telling ITV's Michael Parkinson that he had prayed to God for advice on Iraq, the conversion didn't come as a huge surprise. He was welcomed by prominent members of the Catholic church, and wished well by the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, but some were suspicious about what his conversion implied with regards to his former policies. Anne Widdecombe, who herself converted to Catholicism in 1993, remarked "If you look at Tony Blair's voting record in the House of Commons, he's gone against Church teaching on more than one occasion. On things, for example, like abortion... my question would be, has he changed his mind on that?

9.)Michael Jackson: from Jehovah's Witness to Nation of Islam... perhaps

There were claims in 2008 that the King of Pop had converted to Islam and changed his name to Mikaeel, though these claims have never been fully substantiated. His brother Jermaine, himself a Muslim, apparently encouraged Michael in his Islamic faith, though both were born Jehovah's Witnesses as this was the faith of their parents. For a time Michael also wore the red bracelet of the Kabbalah. Jehovah's Witness, Muslim, Kabbalah ? like so much in the colourful and controversial legend's life, the jury is still out on this one.

10.) Cassius Clay/ Muhammed Ali: from Baptist to Nation of Islam

The former heavyweight in champion, crowned 'Sports personality of the century' by the BBC in 1999, converted from the Baptist church to the Nation of Islam in 1964. Formerly Cassius Clay, the boxer refused to enter the US military in 1967 on account of his Islamic religious beliefs, and was consequently banned from boxing and taken to court, winning an appeal only years later. More recently he has apparently flirted with both Sunni Islam and Sufism.

Source: Thanks to "The Independent"


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